Brewing is the process of sugars being exposed to yeast that produces alcohol, with the sugars coming from either cereals or fruits. Distilling is a secondary process during which the alcoholic liquid is boiled in a still, with the steam being syphoned off to turn into the new concentrated liquid that is known as a spirit.
Whisky is produced around the world and comes from a fermented grain mash. This process releases alcohol as yeast is added to the solution containing water and barley. The strength is weak until the liquid is transferred into a still, and at this stage, a beer could be produced. The boiling of this liquid separates the whiskey from the solution.
The stills have copper insides as this removes the impurities and the whisky is then stored in casks where the maturing process takes place. Whisky will pick up flavors from the cask and the length of time the drink remains in the cask will only improve its taste.
Once the Whisky is bottled, the taste remains the same and will not change regardless of how long the bottle remains un-opened. The tastes does differ from area to area as a result of the local water and the contents of the fermented grain mash.
Gin is produced by taking the fermented grain mash and distilling it, with juniper added to produce the taste. This is done in a pot still and after the gin is made, it is then bottled. Sometimes other fruits are added, but the definition of gin includes the dominant flavor being juniper.
Vodka is produced around the world and during the distillation there is no addition of flavors. Often the alcohol content is so high that water is often added to complete the final drink. The favored way is for the vodka to be produced from grains, but the drink can also be made from potatoes and soybeans.
Rum is a popular drink in areas where sugar rich crops dominate. After distillation of sugar cane and molasses, a clear liquid is produced. It is then stored in bourbon casks for at least one year and sometimes the rum is served directly from the cask. Dark Rum is also popular, and it is made by adding caramel at the end of the process.
One of the stronger spirits is brandy and this is produced by the distilling of wine. The brandy is then stored in oak casks and, in some cases, caramel is added. The regions of the world where wines are produced are also famous for their brandies.
One of the world’s most famous brandies is Cognac and this is named after a town in France. The area is a home to a huge wine growing region and the grapes from these yards have been used to produce brandy for centuries. The bandy is twice distilled and must remained stored for at least two years before it can be bottled.
The basic difference between distillation and brewing is that it produces a liquid with a far higher alcoholic content. The end product will depend on what local produce is predominantly grown and this will influence the type of spirits that will emerge.