Liquor

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An old whiskey still Liquor Still Frankfort 489226997.jpg
An old whiskey still
A display of various liquors in a supermarket Spirituosen-im-supermarkt.jpg
A display of various liquors in a supermarket
Some single-drink liquor bottles available in Germany 17-05-06-Miniaturen RR79033.jpg
Some single-drink liquor bottles available in Germany

Liquor ( /ˈlɪkər/ LIK-ər) is an alcoholic drink produced by the distillation of grains, fruits, vegetables, or sugar that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. Other terms for liquor include: spirit, distilled beverage, booze, spirituous liquor or hard liquor. The distillation process concentrates the liquid to increase its alcohol by volume. [1] As liquors contain significantly more alcohol (ethanol) than other alcoholic drinks, they are considered "harder." In North America, the term hard liquor is sometimes used to distinguish distilled alcoholic drinks from non-distilled ones, whereas the term spirits is more commonly used in the UK. Some examples of liquors include vodka, rum, gin, and tequila. Liquors are often aged in barrels, such as for the production of brandy and whiskey, or are infused with flavorings to form flavored liquors, such as absinthe.

Contents

While the word liquor ordinarily refers to distilled alcoholic spirits rather than beverages produced by fermentation alone, [2] it can sometimes be used more broadly to refer to any alcoholic beverage (or even non-alcoholic products of distillation or various other liquids). [3]

Like other alcoholic drinks, liquor is typically consumed for the psychoactive effects of alcohol. Liquor may be consumed on its own ("neat"), typically in amounts of around 50 millilitres (1.7 US fluid ounces) per served drink. In an undiluted form, distilled beverages are often slightly sweet and bitter and typically impart a burning mouthfeel with an odor derived from the alcohol and the production and aging processes; the exact flavor varies between different varieties of liquor and the different impurities they impart. Liquor is also frequently mixed with other ingredients to form a cocktail.

Rapid consumption of a large amount of liquor can cause severe alcohol intoxication or alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. Consistent consumption of liquor over time correlates with higher mortality and other harmful health effects, even when compared to other alcoholic beverages. [4] [5]

Nomenclature

The term "spirit" (singular and used without the additional term "drink") refers to liquor that should not contain added sugar [6] and is usually 35–40% alcohol by volume (ABV). [7] Fruit brandy, for example, is also known as 'fruit spirit'.

Liquor bottled with added sugar and flavorings, such as Grand Marnier, amaretto, and American schnapps, are known instead as liqueurs. [8]

Liquor generally has an alcohol concentration higher than 30% when bottled, and before being diluted for bottling, it typically has a concentration over 50%. Beer and wine, which are not distilled, typically have a maximum alcohol content of about 15% ABV, as most yeasts cannot metabolize when the concentration of alcohol is above this level; as a consequence, fermentation ceases at that point.

Etymology

The origin of liquor and its close relative liquid is the Latin verb liquere, meaning 'to be fluid'. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), an early use of the word in the English language, meaning simply "a liquid", can be dated to 1225. The first use documented in the OED defined as "a liquid for drinking" occurred in the 14th century. Its use as a term for "an intoxicating alcoholic drink" appeared in the 16th century.

European Union

In accordance with the regulation (EU) 2019/787 of the European Parliament and of the Council of April 17, 2019, [9] a spirit drink is an alcoholic beverage that has been produced:

Spirit drinks must contain at least 15% ABV (except in the case of egg liqueur, which must contain a minimum of 14% ABV). [9] [10]

Distillate of agricultural origin

Regulation makes a difference between "ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin" and a "distillate of agricultural origin". Distillate of agricultural origin is defined as an alcoholic liquid that is the result of the distillation, after alcoholic fermentation, of agricultural products which does not have the properties of ethyl alcohol and which retain the aroma and taste of the raw materials used. [11]

Categories

Viru Valge, an Estonian vodka Viru Valge 1L.jpg
Viru Valge, an Estonian vodka

Annex 1 to the regulation lists 44 categories of spirit drinks and their legal requirements. [12]

Some spirit drinks can fall into more than one category. Specific production requirements distinguish one category from another (London gin falls into the Gin category but any gin cannot be considered as London gin).

Spirit drinks that are not produced within the EU, such as tequila or baijiu, are not listed in the 44 categories.

  1. Rum
  2. Whisky or Whiskey
  3. Grain spirit
  4. Wine spirit
  5. Brandy or Weinbrand
  6. Grape marc spirit or grape marc
  7. Fruit marc spirit
  8. Raisin spirit or raisin brandy
  9. Fruit spirit
  10. Cider spirit, perry spirit and cider and perry spirit
  11. Honey spirit
  12. Hefebrand or lees spirit
  13. Bierbrand , or beer spirit
  14. Topinambur or Jerusalem artichoke spirit
  15. Vodka
  16. Spirit (supplemented by the name of the fruit, berries or nuts) obtained by maceration and distillation
  17. Geist (supplemented by the name of the fruit or the raw materials used)
  18. Gentian
  19. Juniper-flavored spirit drink
  20. Gin
  21. Distilled gin
  22. London gin
  23. Caraway-flavored spirit drink or Kümmel
  24. Akvavit or aquavit
  25. Aniseed-flavored spirit drink (e.g. Rakı, ouzo)
  26. Pastis
  27. Pastis de Marseille
  28. Anis or janeževec
  29. Distilled anis
  30. Bitter-tasting spirit drink or bitters
  31. Flavored vodka
  32. Sloe-aromatized spirit drink or pacharán
  33. Liqueur
  34. Crème de (supplemented by the name of a fruit or other raw material used)
  35. Sloe gin
  36. Sambuca
  37. Maraschino , marrasquino or maraskino
  38. Nocino ou orehovec
  39. Egg liqueur or advocaat , avocat or advokat
  40. Liqueur with egg
  41. Mistrà
  42. Väkevä glögi or spritglögg
  43. Berenburg or Beerenburg
  44. Honey nectar or mead nectar

History of distillation

Early history

Distillation equipment used by the 3rd century alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis, from the Byzantine Greek manuscript Parisinus graecus 2327. Zosimos distillation equipment.jpg
Distillation equipment used by the 3rd century alchemist Zosimos of Panopolis, from the Byzantine Greek manuscript Parisinus graecus 2327.

Early evidence of distillation comes from Akkadian tablets dated c.1200 BC describing perfumery operations, providing textual evidence that an early, primitive form of distillation was known to the Babylonians of ancient Mesopotamia. [16] Early evidence of distillation also comes from alchemists working in Alexandria, Roman Egypt, in the 1st century. [17] Distilled water was described in the 2nd century AD by Alexander of Aphrodisias. [18] Alchemists in Roman Egypt were using a distillation alembic or still device in the 3rd century.

Distillation was known in the ancient Indian subcontinent, evident from baked clay retorts and receivers found at Taxila and Charsadda in Pakistan and Rang Mahal in India dating to the early centuries of the Common Era. [19] [20] [21] Frank Raymond Allchin says these terracotta distill tubes were "made to imitate bamboo". [22] These "Gandhara stills" were capable of producing only very weak liquor, as there was no efficient means of collecting the vapors at low heat. [23]

Distillation in China could have begun during the Eastern Han dynasty (1st–2nd centuries), but the distillation of beverages began in the Jin (12th–13th centuries) and Southern Song (10th–13th centuries) dynasties according to archaeological evidence. [24]

Freeze distillation involves freezing the alcoholic beverage and then removing the ice. The freezing technique had limitations in geography and implementation limiting how widely this method was put to use.

Distillation of wine

An illustration of brewing and distilling industry methods in England, 1858 Brewing and distillation industries. ( 1858- ).jpg
An illustration of brewing and distilling industry methods in England, 1858

The flammable nature of the exhalations of wine was already known to ancient natural philosophers such as Aristotle (384–322 BCE), Theophrastus (c.371 – c.287 BCE), and Pliny the Elder (23/24–79 CE). [25] This did not immediately lead to the isolation of alcohol, however, despite the development of more advanced distillation techniques in second- and third-century Roman Egypt. [26] An important recognition, first found in one of the writings attributed to Jābir ibn Ḥayyān (ninth century CE), was that by adding salt to boiling wine, which increases the wine's relative volatility, the flammability of the resulting vapors may be enhanced. [27] The distillation of wine is attested in Arabic works attributed to al-Kindī (c. 801–873 CE) and to al-Fārābī (c. 872–950), and in the 28th book of al-Zahrāwī's (Latin: Abulcasis, 936–1013) Kitāb al-Taṣrīf (later translated into Latin as Liber servatoris). [28] In the twelfth century, recipes for the production of aqua ardens ("burning water", i.e., alcohol) by distilling wine with salt started to appear in a number of Latin works, and by the end of the thirteenth century, it had become a widely known substance among Western European chemists. [29] Its medicinal properties were studied by Arnald of Villanova (1240–1311 CE) and John of Rupescissa (c. 1310–1366), the latter of whom regarded it as a life-preserving substance able to prevent all diseases (the aqua vitae or "water of life", also called by John the quintessence of wine). [30]

In China, archaeological evidence indicates that the true distillation of alcohol began during the 12th century Jin or Southern Song dynasties. [24] A still has been found at an archaeological site in Qinglong, Hebei, dating to the 12th century. [24]

In India, the true distillation of alcohol was introduced from the Middle East and was in wide use in the Delhi Sultanate by the 14th century. [23] [31]

The works of Taddeo Alderotti (1223–1296) describe a method for concentrating alcohol involving repeated fractional distillation through a water-cooled still, by which an alcohol purity of 90% could be obtained. [32]

In 1437, "burned water" (brandy) was mentioned in the records of the County of Katzenelnbogen in Germany. [33]

Government regulation

Production

It is legal to distill beverage alcohol as a hobby for personal use in some countries, including New Zealand [34] and the Netherlands. [note 1]

In the United States, it is illegal to distill beverage alcohol without a license, and the licensing process is too arduous for hobbyist-scale production. In some parts of the U.S., it is also illegal to sell a still without a license. Nonetheless, all states allow unlicensed individuals to make their own beer, and some also allow unlicensed individuals to make their own wine (although making beer and wine is also prohibited in some local jurisdictions).[ citation needed ]

Sale

Some countries and sub-national jurisdictions limit or prohibit the sale of certain high-percentage alcohol, commonly known as neutral spirit. Due to its flammability (see below) alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content above 70% by volume are not permitted to be transported in aircraft. [35]

Microdistilling

Microdistilling (also known as craft distilling) began to re-emerge as a trend in the United States following the microbrewing and craft beer movement in the last decades of the 20th century.

Flammability

These flaming cocktails illustrate that some liquors will readily catch fire and burn. Flaming cocktails.jpg
These flaming cocktails illustrate that some liquors will readily catch fire and burn.

Liquor that contains 40% ABV (80 US proof) will catch fire if heated to about 26 °C (79 °F) and if an ignition source is applied to it. This temperature is called its flash point. [36] The flash point of pure alcohol is 16.6 °C (61.9 °F), less than average room temperature. [37]

The flammability of liquor is applied in the cooking technique flambé.

The flash points of alcohol concentrations from 10% to 96% by weight are: [38]

Serving

A row of alcoholic beverages - in this case, spirits - in a bar Bar Hard Rock Cafe Prague.png
A row of alcoholic beverages – in this case, spirits – in a bar

Liquor can be served:

Alcohol consumption by country

Map of Europe with individual countries grouped by preferred type of alcoholic drink, based on recorded alcohol consumption per capita (age 15+) (in liters of pure alcohol) in 2016.
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Wine
Beer
Spirits Alcohol belts of Europe (actual consumption in 2016).svg
Map of Europe with individual countries grouped by preferred type of alcoholic drink, based on recorded alcohol consumption per capita (age 15+) (in liters of pure alcohol) in 2016.
  Wine
  Beer
  Spirits

The World Health Organization (WHO) measures and publishes alcohol consumption patterns in different countries. The WHO measures alcohol consumed by persons 15 years of age or older and reports it on the basis of liters of pure alcohol consumed per capita in a given year in a country. [42]

In Europe, spirits (especially vodka) are more popular in the north and east of the continent.

Abandoned 19th-century vodka distillery in Estonia Vodka distillery Matsalu 2021.jpg
Abandoned 19th-century vodka distillery in Estonia

Alcohol and health

Distilled spirits contain ethyl alcohol, the same chemical that is present in beer and wine, and as such, spirit consumption has short-term psychological and physiological effects on the user. Different concentrations of alcohol in the human body have different effects on a person. The effects of alcohol depend on the amount an individual has drunk, the percentage of alcohol in the spirits and the timespan that the consumption took place. [43]

The short-term effects of alcohol consumption range from a decrease in anxiety and motor skills and euphoria at lower doses to intoxication (drunkenness), to stupor, unconsciousness, anterograde amnesia (memory "blackouts"), and central nervous system depression at higher doses. Cell membranes are highly permeable to alcohol, so once it is in the bloodstream, it can diffuse into nearly every cell in the body. Alcohol can greatly exacerbate sleep problems. During abstinence, residual disruptions in sleep regularity and sleep patterns are the greatest predictors of relapse. [43]

Drinking more than 1–2 drinks a day increases the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, and stroke. [44] The risk is greater in younger people due to binge drinking, which may result in violence or accidents. [44] About 3.3 million deaths (5.9% of all deaths) are due to alcohol each year. [45] Unlike wine and perhaps beer, there is no evidence for a J-shaped health effect for the consumption of distilled alcohol. [4] Long-term use can lead to an alcohol use disorder, an increased risk of developing physical dependence. cardiovascular disease and several types of cancer. [43]

Alcoholism, also known as "alcohol use disorder", is a broad term for any drinking of alcohol that results in problems. [46] Alcoholism reduces a person's life expectancy by around ten years [47] and alcohol use is the third-leading cause of early death in the United States. [44]

Consumption of alcohol in any quantity can cause cancer. Alcohol causes breast cancer, colorectal cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, and head-and-neck cancers. The more alcohol is consumed, the higher the cancer risk. [48]

See also

Notes

  1. In the Netherlands, the ABV of the distilled drink must be under 15% ABV without a license.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gin</span> Distilled alcoholic drink flavoured with juniper

Gin is a distilled alcoholic drink flavoured with juniper berries and other botanical ingredients.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Liqueur</span> Alcoholic beverage

A liqueur is an alcoholic drink composed of spirits and additional flavorings such as sugar, fruits, herbs, and spices. Often served with or after dessert, they are typically heavily sweetened and un-aged beyond a resting period during production, when necessary, for their flavors to mingle.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vodka</span> Clear distilled alcoholic beverage

Vodka is a clear distilled alcoholic beverage. Different varieties originated in Poland, Russia, and Sweden. Vodka is composed mainly of water and ethanol but sometimes with traces of impurities and flavourings. Traditionally, it is made by distilling liquid from fermented cereal grains, and potatoes since introduced in Europe in the 1700s. Some modern brands use corn, sugar cane, fruits, honey, and maple sap as the base.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brandy</span> Spirit produced by distilling wine

Brandy is a liquor produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35–60% alcohol by volume and is typically consumed as an after-dinner digestif. Some brandies are aged in wooden casks. Others are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of ageing, and some are produced using a combination of ageing and colouring. Varieties of wine brandy can be found across the winemaking world. Among the most renowned are Cognac and Armagnac from south-western France.

Schnapps or schnaps is a type of alcoholic beverage that may take several forms, including distilled fruit brandies, herbal liqueurs, infusions, and "flavored liqueurs" made by adding fruit syrups, spices, or artificial flavorings to neutral grain spirits.

Ouzo is a dry anise-flavored aperitif that is widely consumed in Greece. It is made from rectified spirits that have undergone a process of distillation and flavoring. Its taste is similar to other anise liquors like pastis, sambuca, rakı and arak.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tsipouro</span> Alcoholic beverage from Greece

Tsipouro is an un-aged brandy from Greece and in particular Thessaly, Epirus, Macedonia, and the island of Crete. Tsipouro is a strong distilled spirit containing 40–45% alcohol by volume and is produced from either the pomace or from the wine after the grapes and juice have been separated. It comes in two types, pure and anise-flavoured, and is usually not aged in barrels, although barrel aged versions do exist.

<i>Aguardiente</i> Generic term for alcoholic beverages containing 29% to 60% alcohol by volume

Aguardente (Portuguese), or aguardiente (Spanish), is a type of distilled alcoholic spirit that contains between 29% and 60% alcohol by volume (ABV). It is a somewhat generic term that can refer to liquors made from various foods. It originates from and is typically consumed on the Iberian Peninsula and in Iberian America.

<i>Baijiu</i> Distilled alcoholic beverage from China

Baijiu, or shaojiu (烧酒/燒酒), is a colorless Chinese liquor typically coming in between 35% and 60% alcohol by volume (ABV). Each type of baijiu uses its own type of for fermentation to create a distinct and characteristic flavor profile.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pálinka</span> Central European alcohol

Pálinka is a traditional fruit spirit with origins in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, known under several names. Protected as a geographical indication of the European Union, only fruit spirits mashed, distilled, matured and bottled in Hungary and similar apricot spirits from four provinces of Austria can be called "pálinka", while "Tótpálinka" refers to wheat-derived beverages. Törkölypálinka, a different product in the legal sense, is a similarly protected pomace spirit that is commonly included with pálinka. While pálinka may be made of any locally grown fruit, the most common ones are plums, apricots, apples, pears, and cherries.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arrack</span> Distilled alcoholic drink typically produced in South and Southeast Asia

Arrack is a distilled alcoholic drink typically produced in India, Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers or sugarcane, and also with grain or fruit depending upon the country of origin. It is sometimes spelled arak, or simply referred to as 'rack or 'rak. It is not to be confused with the anise-flavored distilled spirit called arak or araq. In many parts of India arrack is colloquially known as "desi daru".

Rectified spirit, also known as neutral spirits, rectified alcohol or ethyl alcohol of agricultural origin, is highly concentrated ethanol that has been purified by means of repeated distillation in a process called rectification. In some countries, denatured alcohol or denatured rectified spirit may commonly be available as "rectified spirit", because in some countries the retail sale of rectified alcohol in its non-denatured form is prohibited.

Flavored liquors are liquors that have added flavoring and, in some cases, a small amount of added sugar. They are distinct from liqueurs in that liqueurs have a high sugar content and may also contain glycerine.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Korn (liquor)</span> German colorless grain spirit

Korn, also known as Kornbrand or Kornbranntwein, is a German colorless distilled beverage produced from fermented cereal grain seed. The production of Korn uses only five grains: most of the production is based on rye or wheat; barley is mainly used to obtain the required malt for the brewing process; oats and buckwheat are rarely used. The addition of food colorings, flavorings, or sweeteners is not permitted. Korn is distilled to lower alcoholic proofs and less rigorously filtered than vodka, which leaves more of the cereal grain flavor in the finished spirit.

Fruit brandy is a distilled beverage produced from mash, juice, wine or residues of edible fruits. The term covers a broad class of spirits produced across the world, and typically excludes beverages made from grapes, which are referred to as plain brandy or pomace brandy. Apples, pears, apricots, plums and cherries are the most commonly used fruits.

<i>Himbeergeist</i> Distilled beverage

Himbeergeist is a geist made from raspberries. It is produced mainly in Germany and the Alsace region of France.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alcoholic beverage</span> Drink with a substantial ethanol amount

An alcoholic beverage is a drink that contains ethanol, a type of alcohol and is produced by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. The consumption of alcoholic drinks, often referred to as "drinking", plays an important social role in many cultures. Alcoholic drinks are typically divided into three classes—beers, wines, and spirits—and typically their alcohol content is between 3% and 50%.

<i>Geist</i> (liquor) Distilled beverage

Geist is a distilled beverage obtained by maceration of unfermented fruit or other raw materials in neutral spirits, followed by distillation. This differs from fruit brandy, where the alcohol comes from fermenting the fruit's naturally occurring sugars. As such, geist can be made from a much wider range of materials, as it is not limited to fruits with sufficient fermentable sugars.

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