Wine is made from fermented grapes. Green grapes make white wine, and red grapes make red wine! Brandy is most commonly made from wine, so it’s technically from grapes. However, it can also be made from other fruits and it would be called a fruit brandy or “eau de vie” in French.
Whisky is commonly made from malt barley, and they are called malt whisky. There are other types of whisky that are made from grain, corn, rye and wheat. Some blended whiskies have a combination of these products, as some are cheaper than malt. However, you also can get high quality whisky from any one of these ingredients.
Vodka is made from grains like corn, rye or wheat. There is even potato vodka!
Rum is made from sugarcane, or more accurately molasses. Molasses is the residue remaining from sugarcane juice. However, there are some rums that are also made from sugarcane juice.
Tequila is made from the blue agave plant in Mexico. There are several hundred species of the plant and the leaves can also be eaten. It is NOT a cactus; however, it is in the same family as the cactus, classified as succulents. It’s called blue because of its blue/greenish leaves.
Gin is actually made from the redistillation of a neutral (grain-based) spirit, basically ethanol, with juniper berries or other botanicals added that provide flavour and aroma.
Sake is made from fermentation of rice. The process of fermentation is more similar to that of beer than wine. But between beer and sake, beer is done in two steps; starch to sugar, and then from sugar to alcohol. For sake, the conversion is done simultaneously. The alcohol percentage of sake is generally from 18-20% and it can be served hot or cold.
Although beer is not a spirit, we’ve added it to the list. Beer is commonly made from hops, malted barley, yeast and water. Grains, fruits and spices can also be added for flavour. They say beer is nature's greatest contribution to the human race. We say, Amen!
There are so many different types of liqueurs that we have a separate page for it. Click here to learn more about liqueurs.