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Spirits

"The distillation of alcohol can be traced back to China, Central Asia and the Middle East. In particular, Muslim chemists were the first to produce fully purified distilled alcohol. It later spread to Europe in the mid-12th century, and by the early 14th century it had spread throughout the continent. It also spread eastward, mainly due to the Mongols, and began in China no later than the 14th century. However, recent archaeological evidence suggests that in China the practice of distillation may date back to 5000 BC. Paracelsus gave alcohol its modern name, taking it from the Arabic word which means "finely divided", a reference to distillation."

Brandy

"The word Brandy comes from the Dutch word brandewijn, ("burnt wine"), which is how the straightforward Dutch traders who introduced it to Northern Europe from Southern France and Spain in the 16th century described wine that had been "burnt," or boiled, in order to distill it. The origins of Brandy can be traced back to the expanding Moslem Mediterranean states in the 7th and 8th centuries. Arab alchemists experimented with distilling grapes and other fruits in order to make medicinal spirits. Their knowledge and techniques soon spread beyond the borders of Islam, with grape Brandy production appearing in Spain and probably Ireland (via missionary monks) by the end of the 8th century. Brandy, in its broadest definition, is a spirit made from fruit juice or fruit pulp and skin."

Gin

"Gin is a spirit flavoured with juniper berries. Distilled gin is made by redistilling white grain spirit which has been flavoured with juniper berries. Compound gin is made by flavouring neutral grain spirit with juniper berries without redistilling and can be considered a flavoured vodka."

Liqueurs

"A liqueur is a sweet alcoholic beverage, often flavored with fruits, herbs, spices, flowers, seeds, roots, plants, barks, and sometimes cream. The word liqueur comes from the Latin word liquifacere which means "to dissolve." This refers to the dissolving of the flavorings used to make the liqueur. Liqueurs are not usually aged for long periods, but may have resting periods during their production to allow flavors to marry."

Rum

"Rum is a distilled beverage made from sugarcane byproducts such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak and other barrels. The majority of rum production occurs in and around the Caribbean and along the Demerara River, Guyana in South America, though there are rum producers in places such as Australia, India, Reunion Island, Mauritius, and elsewhere around the world."

Canadian Rye

"Canadian whisky is whisky made in Canada; by law it must be aged there at least three years in a wooden barrel of not greater than 700 L capacity. Most Canadian whiskies are blended multi-grain whiskies and are usually lighter and smoother than other whiskey styles. These are also called "rye whisky" in Canada, though the American definition of "Rye Whiskey" prevents them from being so labeled in the USA. Although rye is often a primary component in Canadian whiskies, the use of rye is not dictated by legal standards. Canadian whisky featured prominently in illegal imports (known as bootlegging) into the U.S. during Prohibition in the 1920s. Hiram Walker had a distillery in Windsor, Ontario across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan that easily served small, fast smuggling boats. There are other types of whiskies made in Canada, such as the "single malt" and "Quebec Maple" whiskies described below; but these are more boutique whiskies and would not be included in the general category of "Canadian Whisky"."

Scotch Single Malt

"Single Malt Scotch is a type of single malt whisky, distilled by a single distillery in a pot still, using malted barley as the only grain ingredient in Scotland. As with any Scotch whisky, a Single Malt Scotch must be distilled in Scotland and matured in oak casks in Scotland for at least three years (most single malts are matured for longer). "Malt" indicates that the whisky is distilled from a single "malted" grain. Not all grains can be malted - (rye is another grain which can be malted) - but in the case of single malt Scotch, barley is always the grain used. "Single" indicates that all the malts in the bottle come from a single distillery. Multi-distillery malts are usually called "blended malt", "vatted malt" or (deliberately confusing, perhaps) "pure malt"."

Tequila

"Tequila is a spirit made primarily in the area surrounding Tequila, a town in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, 65 km northwest of Guadalajara and in the highlands of Jalisco, 65 km east of Guadalajara. It is made from the blue agave (also known as Agave tequilana azul, Weber's blue agave, and also called Maguey by the local people), part of the lily and amaryllis families, which is native to Mexico. Tequila is most often made at a 38-40% alcohol content (76-80 proof), but there are also several varieties of Tequila produced with 43-46% alcohol content (86-92 proof)."

Vodka

"Vodka is one of the world's most popular distilled beverages. It is a clear liquid containing water, ethanol purified by distillation from a fermented substance such as potatoes, grain or sugar beet molasses, and an insignificant amount of other substances: impurities and possibly flavorings. Except for various types of flavorings, vodka is a colourless liquid. Vodka usually has an alcohol content of 35% to 50% by volume. The classic Russian, Lithuanian and Polish vodka is 40% (80 proof). This can be attributed to the Russian standards for vodka production introduced in 1894 by Alexander III from research undertaken by the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev. According to the Vodka Museum in Moscow, Mendeleev found the perfect percentage to be 38. However, since spirits in his time were taxed on their strength, the percentage was rounded up to 40 to simplify the tax computation. At strengths less than this, vodka drunk neat (not mixed with other liquids) can taste "watery": above this strength, the taste of vodka can have more "burn". Some governments set a minimum alcohol content for a spirit to be called "vodka". For example, the European Union sets a minimum of 37.5% alcohol by volume. Although vodka is traditionally drunk neat in Eastern European and Nordic countries of the "Vodka Belt", its popularity elsewhere owes much to its usefulness in cocktails and other mixed drinks, such as the Bloody Mary, the Screwdriver, the vodka tonic, and the vodka martini."

Whiskey

"Whisky (Scottish Gaelic: uisge-beatha), or whiskey (Irish: uisce beatha or fuisce), refers to a broad category of alcoholic beverages that are distilled from fermented grain mash and aged in wooden casks (generally oak). Different grains are used for different varieties, including: barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Whisky derives from the Gaelic word for "water" (uisce or uisge), and is called in full uisge-beatha (in Scotland) or uisce beatha (Ireland), meaning "Water of Life". It is related to the Latin aqua vitae, also meaning "water of life".[1] It is always Scotch whisky, and Irish whiskey. The first written record of whisky comes from 1405 in Ireland, where it was distilled by monks. It is also mentioned in Scotland in 1496. However it is thought that whisky had already been around for at least several hundred years prior. When or where whisky was first distilled is unknown and the local, undocumented beverage production during the period makes identification of the drink's origin difficult. Additionally, it is possible that different groups discovered processes of distillation completely independently of one another. Some scholars believe distilled spirits were first produced between the 8th century AD and 9th century AD in the Middle East[4] with the art of distillation being brought to Ireland and Britain by Christian monks. A popular legend is that St. Patrick introduced distillation to Ireland and Britain, however it is likely he lived around the 5th century AD. It is also possible that the distillation process was discovered in Ireland and possibly Britain (either independently or in precursor to Arabian distillation) by farmers as a way of making use of excess grain after harvest."