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Distilled Spirits

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine

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Distilled Spirits

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
Distilled spirits are defined as Alcohol beverages which have an alcohol content of at least 20% and do not contain added sugars. Distilled Alcohol beverages which have added flavors and sugars are defined as liqueurs; however, the term "spirits" is commonly used to include liqueurs and therefore to encompass all Alcohol beverages other than wine, beer and ciders. In the U.S., the term "hard liquor" is often used to describe true distilled spirits, and is a reference to the higher alcohol content of these beverages.

Distilled spirits are made by using a method of distillation, such as a still, to concentrate the alcohol from a base of fermented material--typically fruit or grain. A pot still is the most basic type of still, which is a device that extracts the alcohol from the fermented base liquid by boiling it and condensing the alcohol vapors. Pot stills are usually made from copper, and are common in the production of brandy and whiskey. A column still or continuous still extracts a higher concentration of alcohol than a pot still, and is better for the production of vodka and other neutral spirits. The pot still was used as far back as the 8^th century, and remained the main method of distilling until the continuous still was invented in the 19^th century. Freeze distillation, a method in which the water from the fermented liquid base is frozen, leaving the alcohol in liquid form, is used more rarely. Freeze distillation, which was once called "jacking" is still used for the production of applejack, an American apple brandy.

Some of the most common distilled spirits include vodka, rum, whiskey, bourbon, tequila, brandy, and gin. Distilled spirits can be drunk neat, or straight, which means alone and at room temperature. They are commonly served "on the rocks," (over ice) or "straight up" (shaken or stirred with ice and then strained into a stemmed glass, such as a martini glass). When one distilled spirit is mixed with a carbonated beverage it is generally referred to a highball (gin and tonic, vodka and soda). A cocktail is usually one or more distilled spirits mixed with one or more ingredients, including fruit juices, liqueurs, or sodas.

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