You don’t have to be a connoisseur of spirits and mixology to appreciate fine liquor. Regardless of whether you prefer a martini, old-fashioned, or whisky sour, it’s important to know the different types of spirits that are out there and how they can best be enjoyed.
In this post, we introduce liquor 101 with three basic categories of drinks: distilled spirits, fortified wines and liqueur.
Distilled spirits, or hard liquor, are alcohol produced by distillation. This process involves heating fermented grain (or other plant material) and condensing the vapour to create a liquid with a higher concentration of alcohol.
Distilled spirits include vodka, whiskey, gin, tequila, rum and brandy. While the recipes and ingredients used to make distilled spirits vary greatly between brands and countries, they all share the same distillation process.
When it comes to choosing a quality spirit, look for labels that reveal information about where the product was made (country of origin, state, or region) and what ingredients were used. For whiskey and other aged spirits, look for the age statement (how long it was aged) on the label.
This will give you an indication of the flavour profile and quality of the spirit. In addition to their alcohol content, distilled spirits have a unique flavour that comes from the ingredients and the distillation process.
This is why they are often enjoyed neat (without mixers) or in a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned, Gibson, Manhattan, Martini or Negroni. Because of their high alcohol content, distilled spirits should always be consumed responsibly and in moderation.
The world of distilled spirits offers something for everyone, so be sure to research and find a spirit that fits your taste. Whether you are new to distilled spirits or have been enjoying them for years, it’s always important to drink responsibly and stay informed.
Fortified wines offer a unique flavour profile that can be enjoyed by both wine connoisseurs and casual drinkers. They are usually made with an added spirit, such as brandy or sherry, which increases their alcohol content and gives them a distinct sweetness.
These wines come in many varieties depending on the type of fortification used and can be served as an aperitif, dessert wine, or even enjoyed on its own. Fortified wines have been around for centuries and can be found in many different regions.
For example, sherry is a fortified wine that originated in Spain and is made with the addition of brandy which gives it an intense flavour. Port is another type of fortified wine made with grapes from Portugal and fortified with brandy or other spirits. It has a sweet taste and is often served as a dessert wine.
Madeira, another type of fortified wine, originates in the Portuguese island of Madeira and features a unique flavour profile due to its oxidation process during aging. Fortified wines are an interesting and complex type of wine that can add a unique element to any occasion.
They pair well with many different types of food, making them the perfect accompaniment for meals or as a dessert. These wines are also known for their health benefits, as they contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health.
Liqueurs are alcoholic beverages with a high sugar content, ranging from 15-55% alcohol by volume. They’re typically flavoured with herbs, spices, fruits and nuts, as well as other flavourings. “Liqueur” is derived from the Latin word for sweet and tasty.
These drinks have been around since at least the 16th century when they were made by monks and other religious orders in Europe. Liqueurs can be enjoyed neat, over ice, or as part of a cocktail.
They usually have an aromatic taste and are often used to bring out the flavours in other ingredients. They come in many colours and styles, from light and sweet to dark and bitter.
For example, popular liqueurs such as amaretto, crème de menthe, and triple sec are used in many famous cocktails. Liqueurs are also used for cooking and baking because they add sweetness and flavour.
They can be used to make glazes or sauces for desserts and savoury dishes or candies and jellied fruits. Liqueurs usually have a lower alcohol content than other spirits, such as rum and whiskey. However, they can still produce an intoxicating effect if consumed in excess.
Overall, liqueurs are an enjoyable and flavorful way to enjoy a drink. Whether enjoyed neat or as part of a cocktail, they can add complexity and sweetness to any night out or dinner party. With so many varieties to choose from, there is sure to be something for everyone.
Now that you have a basic understanding of the three types of spirits, it’s time to get out there and experiment! Try different cocktails made with each type of liquor and find your new favourite drink.
Don’t be afraid to ask a friendly staff member at your local Sessions for recommendations – they’re always happy to help. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new spirit you love. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and start drinking!