Hard Liquor Basics
A basic primer for the more popular hard liquor types will necessary include popular liquors like brandy, tequila, gin, rum, vodka and the various whiskies like, bourbon, Canadian, Irish and Scotch. Liquor is the result of a distillation process that uses water, yeast and sugar in some form, and is the result of fermentation of grain, or sugar cane, fruits, vegetables or other things. Our belief is that the brands suggested below have the best results for the price paid for them. We however, need to appreciate that marketing concepts and brands are always in the process of change.
In North America, men and women use vodka as a mixer and its popularity can come from its being a neutral spirit that is absolutely clear. Vodka originated in the Baltic countries, Poland Russia, and here it is served in small glasses and drunk, chilled and straight, without any addition of other substances. In most other parts of the world, vodka is preferred as one of the elements of a cocktail. Its popularity stems from the reason that it has a slight flavor, is neutral and mixes easily with just about anything. You will find vodka being made from grapes, beets, grains, barley, wheat, corn, rye and even potatoes. Once, the sugars are produced through the fermentation of the grains, the mash is distilled till it contains 95% alcohol, which is considered a high proof of 190. This results in eliminating all distinctive flavors, while other liquors, considered for liquor comparison, are distilled to a lower proof that will retain flavors. The vodka then gets purified through it being treated by charcoal. Water makes up for more than half of Vodka and the quality of water will determine the quality of the finished Vodka, which can also be influenced by the the number of distillations, their method, charcoal used for purification and the equipment that is used for entire process.
Your liquor comparison has to consider the popularity of vodka and its use in many popular drinks that contain this liquor. These are Woo Woo, White Russian, Vodka-Soda, Vodka-Seven, Vodka and Tonic, Shot, Sex on the Beach, Sea Breeze, Screwdriver, Salty Dog, Madras, Martini,Kamikaze, John Collins or Vodka Collins, Hairy Navel, Greyhound, Gibson, Cosmopolitan, Colorado Bulldog, Cape Cod, Bloody Mary, Black Russian, Bay Breeze and Apple Martini among others.
Whiskey(or Whisky). Geography separates the four basic types of whiskies, as American, Canadian, Irish and Scotch, when you consider liquor comparison. Bourbon is the most common and therefore the most important of American whiskies, when you consider any liquor comparison. The general styles of each of these whiskies from these areas is distinct. You can find whiskeys for liquor comparison, that are produced in other places, like Australia or Japan, but this is only of importance, when you visit these places.
Whisky is also spelled as whiskey and both spellings are considered correct for any liquor comparison. Irish and American producers call their product whiskey, while Scottish and Canadian distillers prefer the spelling whisky.The plural of the word is the same for both versions of the word, and the origin of this change in spelling is not known ,and has taken place over years. When you look at liquor comparison, the actual spelling of the word has had no effect on the quality of the products produced.
Mature drinkers have a preference for Scotch whiskies, though this is an acquired taste. This whiskey has a smoky flavor, that comes from the drying of the malted barley used to make this whiskey, being dried over peat fires. It is further divided into two types which are single malts and blends. When you call a whiskey, a single malt, you are emphasizing that the whiskey has been made at only one distillery and not been blended with any other, while the only fermentable material used has been the grain barley malt. This criteria is met by all single malt Scotch whiskey, while for liquor comparison, you will find that all other Scotch whiskies are blended. You will find the best blends of Scotch liquor, when for liquor comparison you find that the blends have not used any other liquor other than other Scotch whiskies. You will find in this liquor comparison that cheap blends are made from whiskies made from single malt that has used neutral grains and make for liquors that have less flavor.
Single malts became very popular in the 1990s and their numbers increased greatly, resulting in their becoming the premium whiskey of choice for people who took their drinking seriously. The flavors in single malts are very pronounced, and point to smoke and peat, while other blended Scotch whiskies are smoother. For liquor comparison, you will find the most popular of blended Scotch whiskies in the brands Cutty Sark, Dewar’s and Johnny Walker. Single malts and blends can both be very good, and get this benefit from the aging process they undergo in wooden barrels. The longer the aging, the better the Scotch, and this can process can take from anything to 10, 12, 18 or more years.
When you go in for liquor comparison, you will find that every single malt is distinct from the next single malt, just as they are different from blends. Peat is a material found in bogs and is vegetable material that has partially carbonized, and this is the fuel that is used to turn barley to malt. This peat gives a number of single malts a predominant flavor. Each region in Scotland producing single malts has its own characteristics, depending on whether it is in Islay, Campbeltown the Highlands or the Lowlands.
Whiskies from areas south of Edinburgh and Glasgow are Lowland whiskies and taste more of malt than peat, which you will find more prominent in other coastal regions that have brine and seaweed. Single malts from the Lowlands are those that are the most accessible. The biggest producing region of Scotch whiskies is the Highlands and their tastes vary widely depending on whether they come from unofficial areas of Speyside, or the east, north and west of the Highlands. You will find hints of peatiness in the whiskies produced in Highlands western parts, while the whiskies are also dry and firm. When you go to the northern part of the Highlands, you will find during your liquor comparison, that the whiskey produced there is spicy, as far as whiskies go. East Highlands and its more temperate parts produce whiskey that by liquor comparison, is fruity.The whiskies produced in Speyside are elegant and complex and have two variations from the sherry flavored and robust whiskies like Glenfarclas and Macallan to Glenmorangie and Glenlivet which are subtle and lighter. The smallest of the whiskey producing regions, Campbeltown, has just three whiskies and each of them has different levels of peatiness and brine flavors, when you go in for liquor comparison.The region of Islay, or eye-luh as it is pronounced, is an island southwest of the mainland and the whiskies produced here have smoky, peaty flavors, and full bodied whiskey that hints at seaweed.
There are other smaller islands like Orkney and Skye , which produce Highland Park and Talisker, and both these whiskies have a typical Highland character if you are making any liquor comparison.
Drinks that feature Scotch are Scotch and Milk, Scotch and Soda, Rusty Nail, Rob Roy, On the Rocks and Neat.
Whiskies from Ireland are called Irish whiskey.These whiskeys are relatively inexpensive, but are still of a high quality, though not as complex as Scotch whiskies when you do any liquor comparison. This whiskey is made from a number of grains mainly malted barley, rye, corn and unmalted barleys, which go through a process of fermentation. These malted grains go through the drying process in closed kilns, unlike the open fires that use peat, and give Scotch whiskies their peaty and smoky flavors. The whiskey goes through distillation three times and is allowed to age for 3 to 9 years in oak casks that are constantly reused. This gives a product that is more accessible and has a flavor that is smooth and malty. In North America, for liquor comparison, the Irish whiskies that you will commonly find are Bushmills and Jameson. For some reason Jameson is called Catholic whiskey, while Bushmills is a Protestant whiskey. This difference has no longer any significance because both brands have the same owner. There has been a change in formula recently , and this has led to Jameson being tastier and sweeter than Bushmills when you make a liquor comparison.
Irish Coffee, On the Rocks, and Neat are the drinks that are popular with Irish whiskey drinkers.
Whisky that is distilled in Canada is called Canadian whisky. These whiskies are well made, but are much more affordable than Irish whiskies. There is a law in Canada that requires whisky to be blended from the fermentation of grains, like barley, rye, wheat or corn. Corn is the one that makes up the largest component of grain used for making whisky in Canada. You will find in liquor comparison, that most Canadian whiskies have been aged in casks made of oak for a minimum of three years, though most makers prefer aging of six to eight years. Whiskies are then blended and allowed to age for some more time. This gives a muted and smooth taste to Canadian whisky, which is also full bodied and sweet when you make a liquor comparison with Scotch or Irish whiskey. Canadian whiskies are better mixers than the whiskies produced in Scotland and Ireland.
Among the popular drinks made out of Canadian whisky, you will find, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Crown and Cola, On the Rocks and Neat.
Bourbon whiskies are considered the best American whiskies, when you go in for liquor comparison, and has close cousins in the whiskies made in Tennessee, where they follow a process that is slightly different. They are spirits that Americans are proud of. Bourbon is made from fermented corn mash of between 51 and 79 percent. It is straight whiskey that has not been blended and the only thing added in it after distillation is water. Most bourbons go through an aging process of at least two years, in white oak barrels that have been newly charred, and those that are sold as 80 proof have been aged for four years. Most discussions about bourbon, will use the term “sour mash” and this is a technique of fermentation that uses part of older distillation to make the fermenting mash for the current batch of bourbon. This ensures that the quality of subsequent batches is consistent.
Most bourbon in America comes from the state of Kentucky, though it can be distilled anywhere in the US of A. The reason behind continuing to use the same locations is said to be the quality of water available in them.The whisky made in Tennessee has an extra step in its production than the process used for bourbon. Impurities in it are removed through charcoal obtained from maple trees,before it is allowed to age. Some bourbon enthusiasts say this process removes the flavor, thought the liquor comparison says the whisky may become smoother. Tennessee has only two distilleries still producing whisky , and they are the boutique George Dickel and Jack Daniels. Besides Tennessee whiskey and bourbon, there is rye whiskey in which more than half of the grains that are fermented will be rye. This is a whiskey that is considered an original American product. It has a coarser and heavier taste that is different from bourbon, even though it is similar in color. Blended American whiskey is very similar to Canadian blended whiskey when you go in for liquor comparison. The most popular brand of this blend is Seagrams’s 7 and is very similar to Seagrams’s V.O which is made in Canada.
Popular drinks that are associated with American whiskey are Whiskey Sour,Whiskey and Cola, 7 and 7, Sazerac, Mint Julep,Kentucky Cooler, Hot Toddy, Bourbon Sour, Bourbon Old Fashioned, With a Splash of Water, On the Rocks and Neat.
Rum is a liquor that is an outcome of distillation of sugar cane or its molasses and makes for a wide range of drinks, of which Rum and Cola is the one that is immediately identifiable. It is a liquor mainly made in the tropical climate of the Caribbean. Rum can be flavored, dark or light. Light rums are made to a proof of 160 or higher in column stills. White rum is the lowest form of rum and spends a year in oak barrels. Amber or gold rum is aged for two years and has caramel added to it to give it color, and this makes it smoother and enables it to have more flavor. Anejo is rum that has been aged for at least four years and makes for a very flavorful rum. Full bodied rums are made by using on the middle part of the distillation column that has a proof that varies from 140 to 160. It is aged for at least five years in oak barrels ans makes for a highly flavored basic rum. Jamaican rums may be blended to give them consistency.