The most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world is beer (the America’s, Australia, Europe); the second is wine (South America, most of Europe); and the third is spirits (Asia, Russia). This post looks at spirits from various regions spanning the globe — what they are made from and the countries they come from.
Comes from: Peru and Chile
Made from: Grape brandy
Cocktail namesake: The Pisco Sour. Click here for a traditional Peruvian Pisco Sour recipe from Cicciolina in Cusco, Peru.
Served: On the rocks or up.
Comes from: Japan
Made from: Rice
Interesting fact: The brewing process of saké is more like that of beer than wine (although it is often called “Rice Wine” in the west.) The more that the rice is polished before resting and fermentation — that is, the nearest it is to the core of an individual rice grain — the higher quality saké it will produce.
Served: Neat, chilled or warmed.
Comes From: Japan
Made from: Barley, sweet potatoes, or rice (the same components that make vodka), and sometimes from brown sugar, buckwheat or chestnut. It is usually about 40 proof — half of alcohol by volume (ABV) of regular potato, grain or grape vodka.
Served: Neat, on the rocks, chilled and with a variety of mixers – the Japanese favorite is oolong tea.
Comes from: Brazil
Made from: Cane sugar
Its claim to fame: The only liquor that can wield the famous caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. (Careful, the residual sugar in the liquor combined with sugar in the cocktail makes these things lethal!)
Comes from: Jamaica
Made from: Molasses and sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation.
Pick your poison: Overproof is 75% pure alcohol (or 150 proof = poison) and is usually used solely as a cocktail float. But not in Jamaica, here, brands such as Wray & Nephew White Overproof rum are cut in half with fresh island fruit juices.
Comes from: Portugal
Made from: Grapes from the premier growing region, Douro.
The secret ingredient: aguardente (also made from grapes) is added to stop the fermentation and increase the residual sugar content which then boosts the alcohol content.
Comes from: Northern Italy
Made from: The skins of grapes
A hand-me-down drink: grappa is a biproduct of the leftovers of wine production.
Comes from: Germany
Made from: distilled grains and fruit (apples, pears, plums, and cherries)
Comes from: Ireland/Scotland/America/Canada
Made from: Barley, rye, wheat and corn
For all things whisky related learn from one of our favorite experts, Ray Pearson, founder of WhiskeyTastings.com.
Comes from: Germany
Made from: Made with 56 herbs and spices, 70-proof (35% abv), a digestif.
History: Curt Mast, the original distiller of Jägermeister, was a hunter. Jägermeister translated means “hunting-master.”
Comes from: Russia, Poland
Made from: Water and ethanol
Alcohol content: Today, the standard alcohol by volume (ABV) is 40% or 80 proof and must be at least 37.5% ABV to be labeled as a “European vodka.” In the US, anything over 30% ABV is considered vodka, but is better known as Moonshine.
Made from: Corn and sugar
Comes from: The United States of America
Moonshine is often called “white lightning” because it is not aged and is usually very high proof. Home-distilling of Moonshine is illegal, but Moonshine-like products, such as Everclear, are available in some places in the U.S. Abandoned moonshine stills can be found throughout the Appalachian Mountains.
Comes from: India
Made from: Cashew and sometimes coconut
Fenny is made in Goa and is a strong liquor typically enjoyed on the beach.
Comes from: Switzerland
Made from: Pernod (French anise liquor) and steeped with psychedelic wormwood.
Although Absinthe originated in Switzerland in the late 18th century, it became wildly popular in France in the early 20th century among artists and writers. Social conservatives and prohibitionists loathed it which made it even more enticing to Ernest Hemingway, Charles Baudelaire, Amedeo Modigliani, Vincent van Gogh, and Oscar Wilde — all notable lovers of Absinthe.
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