Neutral grain alcohol, which is also known as grain neutral spirit (GNS) or pure grain alcohol (PGA), is a flammable, colorless and clear liquid which has been distilled from mash that is grain-based to where it holds a high content of ethanol. It is described as neutral because the spirit lacks flavor which is usually present when the mash ingredients are distilled to the point when the alcohol purity is lower; in addition it does not have any added flavor after it has been distilled, which is usually done with gin. Other spirits, including whisky, are distilled for lower alcohol percentage to preserve the mash’s flavor.
Neutral grain alcohol can be produced from mash comprised of any mixture or type of grain cereals.
According to U.S. law, “neutral alcohol” or “neutral spirits” are defined as distilled spirits which are produced from any raw material at 95% alcohol by volume or above. Any such product made from grain is called neutral grain alcohol and if it is made from grapes, it is then called “grape neutral spirit,” etc. However, informally, neutral alcohol refers to any distilled spirit that contains high alcohol purity of 170 proof or higher, and does not contain any added flavoring.
Neutral grain alcohol has limitations which dictate that its purity is limited to 190 proof because as water and ethanol mix, the water changes to an azeotrope at 95.6% ABV to 191.2 proof.
Neutral grain alcohol, also called neutral alcohol, is one type of neutral spirit. It can also be distilled from sugarcane, grapes, sugar beets in addition to other fermented plant materials. In addition, a large quantity of neutral alcohol is distilled from wine, which is also called vinous alcohol.
Neutral grain alcohol is utilized to produce selected liqueurs, cut brandy, blended whiskey and selected bitters. It is a consumer good and is, in most cases, mixed with various beverages to create a variety of drinks such as punches and cocktails, or to create homemade liqueurs.