Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Biological: Behavioural genetics · Evolutionary psychology · Neuroanatomy · Neurochemistry · Neuroendocrinology · Neuroscience · Psychoneuroimmunology · Physiological Psychology · Psychopharmacology (Index, Outline)

Alcoholic beverages.

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol, commonly known as alcohol, although the chemical definition of alcohol includes many other compounds.

Ethanol is a centrally-acting drug with a depressant effect, and many societies regulate or restrict its sale and consumption. Countries place various legal restrictions on the sale of alcoholic drinks to young people. The manufacture and consumption of alcohol is found to some degree in most cultures and societies around the world, from hunter-gatherer tribes to organized nation-states. The consumption of alcohol is often important at social events in such societies and may be an important aspect of a community's culture.

Ethanol is only slightly toxic compared to other alcohols, but has significant psychoactive effects at sublethal doses. A significant blood alcohol content is considered legal drunkenness as it reduces attention, lengthens reaction time and lowers inhibitions. Alcoholic beverages are addictive when consumed repeatedly or in high doses and the state of addiction to ethanol is known as alcoholism.

Chemistry and toxicology

Main article: ethanol

Ethanol (CH3CH2OH), the active ingredient in alcoholic drinks, for consumption purposes is almost always produced by fermentation–the metabolism of carbohydrates by certain species of yeast in the absence of oxygen. The process of culturing yeast under alcohol-producing conditions is referred to as brewing. The same process produces carbon dioxide in situ, and may be used to carbonate the drink in home brewing. However, this method leaves yeast residues and on the industrial scale, carbonation is done separately.

Drinks with a concentration of more than 50% ethanol by volume (100 proof) are flammable liquids and easily ignited. Some exotic ones gain their distinctive flavors through intentional ignition of the drink, such as the Flaming Dr. Pepper. Spirits with a higher proof (ABV in UK is roughly half of proof number) can be ignited with ease by heating slightly, e.g. adding the spirit to a warmed shot glass.

Alcohol psychology
Brain animated color nevit.gif

Alcohol use
Alcohol abuse
Alcohol consumption and health
Treatment of alcohol problems

In chemistry, alcohol is a general term for any organic compound in which a hydroxyl group (-OH) is bound to a carbon atom, which in turn may be bound to other carbon atoms and further hydrogens. Other alcohols such as propylene glycol and the sugar alcohols may appear in food or beverages regularly, but these alcohols do not make them "alcoholic". Methanol (one carbon), the propanols (three carbons giving two isomers), and the butanols (four carbons, three isomers) are all commonly found alcohols, and none of these three should ever be consumed in any form. Alcohols are toxicated into the corresponding aldehydes and then into the corresponding carboxylic acids. These metabolic products cause a poisoning and acidosis. In the case of other alcohols than ethanol, the aldehydes are poisonous and the acidosis can be lethal. In contrast, fatalities from ethanol are mainly found in extreme doses and related to induction of unconsciousness or chronic addiction (alcoholism).

When compared to other alcohols, ethanol is only slightly toxic, with a lowest known lethal dose in humans of 1400 mg/kg, and a LD50 of 9000 mg/kg (oral, rat). A blood alcohol concentration of 50 to 100 mg/dL is considered legal drunkenness. The threshold of effects is at 22 mg/dL[1]. Nevertheless, accidental overdosing of alcoholic drinks, especially those of concentrated variety, is a risk for lightweight persons and children.

It has been suggested that alcoholic impurities (congeners) are the cause of hangovers[2]. However, it is more likely that they are caused by acetaldehyde , a toxic breakdown intermediate naturally produced by the liver as the alcohol is metabolized.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Alcoholic content

The concentration of alcohol in a drink may be specified in percent alcohol by volume (ABV), in percentage by weight (sometimes abbreviated w/w for weight for weight), or in proof. In the USA, the 'proof' measurement roughly corresponds in a 2:1 ratio to percent alcoholic content by volume (80 proof ≈ 40% ABV). Degrees proof were formerly used in the UK where 40% ABV was approximately 70 degrees proof. Common distillation cannot exceed 191.2 proof (USA) because at that point ethanol is an azeotrope with water. Alcohols of this purity are commonly referred to as grain alcohol and are not meant for human consumption, with the notable exception of neutral grain spirits.

Most yeasts cannot grow when the concentration of alcohol is higher than about 18% by volume, so that is a practical limit for the strength of fermented beverages such as wine, beer, and sake. Strains of yeast have been developed that can survive in solutions of up to 25% alcohol by volume, but these were bred for ethanol fuel production, not beverage production. Spirits are produced by distillation of a fermented product, concentrating the alcohol and eliminating some of the by-products. Fortified wines are produced by adding brandy or other distilled spirits to achieve higher ABV than is easily reached using fermentation alone.


Ethanol is a moderately good solvent for many fatty substances and essential oils, and thus facilitates the inclusion of several colouring, flavoring and/or aromatic compounds to alcoholic beverages, especially to distilled ones. These flavoring ingredients may be naturally present in the starting material, or may be added before fermentation, before distillation, during distillation (gin) or before bottling the distilled product. Sometimes the flavor is obtained by allowing the beverage to stand for months or years in oak barrels, normally American or french oak, sometimes charred (bourbon), sometimes already used for aging a different spirit, wine or fortified wine. Occasionally, in the bottle herbs or fruits have been inserted to flavor the final product.


Main article: History of alcohol

Alcohol has been widely consumed since prehistoric times by people around the world, as a component of the standard diet, for hygienic or medical reasons, for its relaxant and euphoric effects, for recreational purposes, for artistic inspiration, as aphrodisiacs, and for other reasons. Some drinks have been invested with symbolic or religious significance suggesting the mystical use of alcohol, e.g. by Greco-Roman religion in the ecstatic rituals of Dionysus (also called Bacchus), god of wine and revelry; in the Christian Eucharist; and on the Jewish Shabbat and festivals (particularly Passover).

Fermented beverages

Chemical analysis of traces absorbed and preserved in pottery jars from the Neolithic village of Jiahu, in Henan province, Northern China, have revealed that a mixed fermented beverage of rice, honey, and fruit was being produced as early as 9,000 years ago. This is approximately the same time that barley beer and grape wine were beginning to be made in the Middle East. Recipes have been found on clay tablets and art in Mesopotamia that show individuals using straws to drink beer from large vats and pots.

The Hindu Ayurvedic texts describe both the beneficent uses of alcoholic beverages and the consequences of intoxication and alcoholic diseases. Most of the peoples in India and China, have continued, throughout, to ferment a portion of their crops and nourish themselves with the alcoholic product. However, devout adherents of Buddhism, which arose in India in the 5th and 6th centuries BC and spread over southern and eastern Asia, abstain to this day, as do devout Hindus and Sikhs. In Mesopotamia and Egypt, the birthplace of beer and wine, Islam is now the predominant religion, and it also prohibits the drinking and even the handling of alcoholic beverages.

Wine was consumed in Classical Greece at breakfast or at symposia, and in the 1st century BC it was part of the diet of most Roman citizens. However, both Greeks and Romans generally consumed their wine watered (from 1 part of wine to 1 part of water, to 1 part of wine to 4 parts of water). The transformation of water into wine at a wedding feast is the first of the miracles attributed to Jesus in the New Testament, and his use of wine in the Last Supper led to it becoming an essential part of the Eucharist rite in most Christian traditions.

In Europe during the Middle Ages, beer was consumed by the whole family, thanks to a triple fermentation process — the men had the strongest, then women, then children. A document of the times mentions nuns having an allowance of six pints of ale a day. Cider and pomace wine were also widely available, while grape wine was the prerogative of the higher classes. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, wine production in Europe appears to have been sustained chiefly by monasteries.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

By the time the Europeans reached the Americas in the 15th century, several native civilizations had developed alcoholic beverages. According to a post-Conquest Aztec document, consumption of the local "wine" (pulque) was generally restricted to religious ceremonies, but freely allowed to those over 70 years old. The natives of South America manufactured a beer-like product from cassava or maize (cauim, chicha), which had to be chewed before fermentation in order to turn the starch into sugars. This chewing technique was also used in ancient Japan to make sake from rice and other starchy crops.

The medicinal use of alcohol was mentioned in Sumerian and Egyptian texts dated from 2100 BC or earlier. The Hebrew Bible recommends giving alcoholic drinks to those who are dying or depressed, so that they can forget their misery (Proverbs 31:6-7).

Distilled beverages

Main article: Distilled beverages

Though the distillation of alcohol can be traced back earlier to China, Central Asia and the Middle East, distilled alcoholic beverages began in 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.


In many countries, alcoholic beverages are commonly consumed at the major daily meals (lunch and dinner). Most early beers were in fact highly nutritious and served as a means of calorie distribution [How to reference and link to summary or text]. Beer can be stored longer than grain or bread without fear of pest infestation or rotting, and drinking beer avoided the tooth-destroying grit that was present in hand-ground or early mill-ground flours[How to reference and link to summary or text].

In places and eras with poor public sanitation, such as Medieval Europe, consumption of alcoholic drinks (particularly weak or "small" beer) was one method of avoiding water-borne diseases such as cholera. Though alcohol kills bacteria, the low concentration in beer or even wine will have only a limited effect. Probably the boiling of water, which is required for the brewing of beer, and the growth of yeast, which would tend to crowd out other micro-organisms, were more important than the alcohol itself. In any case, the ethanol (and possibly other ingredients) of alcoholic beverages allows them to be stored for months or years in simple wood or clay containers without spoiling, which was certainly a major factor in their popularity.

In colder climates, strong alcoholic beverages such as vodka are popularly seen as a way to "warm up" the body, possibly because ethanol is a quickly absorbed source of food energy and dilates peripheral blood vessels (Peripherovascular dilation). This however is a dangerous misconception, and people experiencing hypothermia should avoid alcohol - although it makes you feel warmer, the body loses heat and body temperature decreases, which may increase the effects of hypothermia, and eventually cause death. This is because of the dilation of blood vessels not in the core of the body; because of this increased bloodflow, the body loses its heat out of its less protected outer extremities.

In many cultures, both contemporary and historical, alcoholic beverages — mostly because of their neurological effects — have also played an important role in various kinds of social interaction, providing a form of "liquid courage" (those who consume it typically gain confidence and lose discretion). While other psychoactive drugs (such as opium, coca, khat, cannabis, kava-kava, etc.) also have millennial traditions of social use, only coffee, tea, betel, and tobacco are currently as universally used and accepted as ethanol.

Alcohol consumption and health

Main article: Alcohol consumption and health

In moderation, alcohol consumption has significant health benefits. These include a lower risk of heart attack [1], lower risk of diabetes [2], lower risk of Alzheimer's disease [3], reduced risk of stroke [4], and an increase in overall longevity [5]. It is important to note however that excessive consumption of alcohol has serious detrimental effects to a person's health.

A 2001 report estimates that medium and high consumption of alcohol led to 75,754 deaths in the USA. Low consumption has some beneficial effects so a net 59,180 deaths were attributed to alcohol. [3] Alcohol has also been linked to cancer. "3.6% of all cancer cases worldwide are related to alcohol drinking, resulting in 3.5% of all cancer deaths." (See Alcohol and cancer for details) [4] Alcohol is also a potentially addictive substance to a large percentage of people.

Alcohol addiction can also lead to malnutrition because it can alter digestion and metabolism of most nutrients. Severe thiamine deficiency is very common due to deficiency of folate, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and selenium. Muscle cramps, nausea, appetite loss, nerve disorders and depression are some common symptoms. It can also lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures due to vitamin D deficiency (Vitamin D helps in calcium absorption). Alcohol stimulates insulin production which speeds up the glucose metabolism and can result in low blood sugar.

Alcohol affects the brain, causing slurred speech, clumsiness, slow reflexes, and a loss of inhibition. The consumption of alcohol does not kill brain cells but rather damages dendrites, the branched ends of nerve cells that bring messages into the cell.

Alcohol dilates the channels in the cellular structure that regulates the flow of calcium, causing more calcium than normal to flow into the cells and stimulating increased activity. This does not kill the whole cell, but causes a loss of the end segments, leading to the loss of incoming signals and therefore a change in brain function.

Most of this damage is temporary, but the recovery process changes nerve-cell structure permanently.[5]

Alcohol and religion

Main article: Islam and alcohol

Some religions — most notably Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, the Bahá'í Faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Seventh Day Adventists, the Nikaya and most Mahayana schools of Buddhism and some Protestant sects of Fundamentalist Christianity — forbid, discourage, or restrict the consumption of alcoholic beverages for various reasons.

In the early Islamic period drinking was considered to be one of the two offences against God, the other being illicit sex. Even now according to Islam several Qur'anic verses are commonly understood to prohibit the use of alcohol. The Qu'ran says that although there are some profits in alcohol, the sins are greater than the profit (

  1. REDIRECT: Template:Cite quran

). Only the use of alcohol for medical purposes is allowed.

Many Christian denominations use wine in the Eucharist and permit the use of alcohol in moderation, while others use unfermented grape juice in the Eucharist and abstain from alcohol by choice or prohibit it outright. According to the Roman Catholic Church, there is no sin in drinking itself, but drunkenness is a mortal sin.[6]

The Jewish religion uses wine on Shabbat for Kiddush as well as in the Passover ceremony and in other religious ceremonies, including Purim, and allows the moderate use of alcohol, such as kosher wine.

Buddhist texts recommend refraining from drugs and alcohol, because they may inhibit mindfulness.

  1. REDIRECT template:sectstub

Legal considerations

Alcohol restriction in Victoria, Australia.

Most countries have rules prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages to minors. European countries typically have a legal drinking age of 16 or 18. For example, in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, one has to be 16 to buy beer or wine and 18 to buy distilled alcoholic beverages. Denmark however allows purchasing of all types of alcohol after the age of 16. Germany's law is directed toward sellers of alcoholic beverages, not toward minors themselves; German law puts control concerning the consumption of alcoholic beverage in the hands of custodial persons and persons with parental power.[7] In the United Kingdom, the minimum age for purchasing alcohol is 18, although minors are legally allowed to consume alcohol in the home from the age of five; in addition, shop workers under 18 may not legally sell alcohol by themselves. In France, people must be 14 to buy beer, 16 for wine and 18 to buy distilled alcoholic beverages. In Australia, the age for the purchase and possession of alcohol is 18, but it may be consumed in the home or under adult supervision at any age.[How to reference and link to summary or text] In the United States, the legal age for purchase or possession (but not necessarily consumption) in every state has been 21 since the passage of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act in 1984, which tied federal highway funds to states' raising their minimum drinking age to 21. Forty states[specify]

specifically permit consumption under the age of 21 for religious or health reasons or with parental approval:
  • Iowa (123.47 (2)) — in private home and with parental "knowledge, presence, and consent"

In Canada the legal drinking age is 18 in the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec, and 19 elsewhere. In Iceland, one has to be twenty to legally buy or possess alcoholic beverages, although one can drink them from the age of eighteen.

In law, sometimes the term "intoxicating agent" is used for a category of substances which includes alcoholic beverages and some other drugs. Giving any of these substances to a person to create an abnormal condition of the mind (such as drunkenness), in order to facilitate committing a crime (e.g., rape), may be an additional crime.

A number of countries forbid the commerce, consumption or advertising of alcoholic beverages, or restrict them in various ways. During the period known as Prohibition, from 1919 to 1933, it was illegal to manufacture, transport, import, export, or sell alcoholic beverages in the United States. Some communities in the United States (known as dry counties) still ban alcohol sales. Many Muslim countries, such as Saudi Arabia, prohibit alcohol for religious reasons. Drinking alcohol in public places, such as streets and parks, is against the law in most of the United States and in some European countries, but legal in others such as Belgium, United Kingdom and Germany.

In each of the Nordic countries except Denmark, there is a government monopoly on the selling of hard alcohol in stores. In Sweden, beers with a lower alcohol content, called folköl (more than 2.25% and up to 3.5% alcohol), can be sold in regular stores to anyone older than 18, but drinks with a high content of alcohol can only be sold in the official government-run vendors by people older than 20, or in licenced facilities such as restaurants and bars, where the age limit is 18. The law states that alcoholic drinks bought at these licensed facilities must be consumed on the premises, and it is not allowed to consume alcoholic drinks bought elsewhere. For non-alcoholic drinks there is no such legal requirement, but individual facilities may still set their own restrictions.

The state-run vendor is called Systembolaget in Sweden, Vinmonopolet in Norway, Alko in Finland, and ÁTVR in Iceland. The governments claim that the purpose of this system is to cut down on the consumption of alcohol in these countries where binge drinking is an ancient tradition. The first such monopoly was in Falun in the 19th century. In the early 20th century, Sweden had a brief prohibition of strong alcoholic drinks, followed by strict rationing, and then more lax regulation, including being open on Saturdays. These measures have had success in the past, but since joining the European Union it has been harder to curb importation, legal or illegal, from other EU countries, making these measures less effective. There is an ongoing debate over whether or not to maintain the state-run alcohol monopolies.

Most countries have laws against drunk driving, driving with a certain concentration of ethanol in the blood. Punishments usually include fines, temporary loss of driving license, and imprisonment. The legal threshold of blood alcohol content ranges from 0.0% to 0.08%, according to local law. Similar prohibitions exist for drunk sailing.

In many countries, production of alcoholic beverages requires a license, and alcohol production is taxed. In the United States, individuals may freely produce wine and beer for personal or family consumption (but not for sale), while all production of distilled beverages is regulated and taxed.[8] The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (formerly one organization known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) enforce federal laws and regulations related to alcohol, though most regulations regarding serving and selling alcoholic beverages are made by the individual states. There also exist intrastate regulatory differences, as between Montgomery County, Maryland and the rest of the state. In the UK the Customs and Excise department issues distilling licenses.

In the United States, all alcoholic product packaging must contain a health warning from the Surgeon General.

Common state regulations in the United States are:

  • Many U.S. states require that distilled liquor be sold only in dedicated liquor stores. For example: In Washington, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Utah, liquor stores are run by the state, ostensibly to prevent young cashiers from allowing sales to underage friends, while pretending to verify their age. In Oklahoma, liquor stores may not refrigerate any beverages. Often, liquor sales are prohibited on Sunday by a Blue law. Other laws, governing a variety of issues, vary regionally.
  • Most U.S. states follow a three-tier (alcohol distribution) system where producers cannot sell directly to retailers, but must instead sell to distributors, who in turn sell to retailers.
  • Most U.S. states do not allow open containers of alcohol inside of moving vehicles.
  • Some U.S. states offer relaxed rules for beer at or below 3.2% alcohol. For example, in Colorado and Utah, beer with 3.2% alcohol or less may be sold in grocery stores while stronger beverages are restricted to liquor stores.
  • Many cities and counties ban drinking alcoholic beverages in public; that is, on the street or sidewalk.
  • Often bars serving distilled liquor are exempted from smoking bans.

In New Zealand it is legal to produce any form of alcohol for personal use, including spirits. This has made the sale and use of home distillation equipment popular.

In Denmark, people can buy all kinds of alcoholic beverages from grocery stores. The Legal age of purchasing alcohol is 16 in shops, and 18 in bars and restaurants. Until 1998 there was no age limit to buy alcohol in shops. It is generally legal to drink alcoholic beverages in the street, but restrictions are sometimes applied by local authorities in problem areas. In trains, buses etc. it is generally allowed to drink alcohol, but not to act heavily intoxicated, a rule enforced less strictly than in neighbouring Scandinavian countries. Home production of wine and beer is not regulated. Home distillation of spirits is legal, however not common since it is subject to the same taxation as spirits sold commercially. Bootlegging is rarely heard of, in contrast to rural Sweden and Norway. Danish alcohol taxes are significantly lower than in Sweden and Norway, but higher than in most other European countries.

Japan has similar laws, except that the legal age of purchasing and consuming alcohol is 20.

See also: Teetotalism, Temperance movement, Legal drinking age

Types of alcoholic beverages

Main article: List of alcoholic beverages

Low-alcohol-content drinks are produced by fermentation of sugar- or starch-containing products, and high-alcohol ones are produced by distillation of these. Sometimes, the alcohol content is increased by adding distilled products, particularly in the case of wines. Such fortified wines include Port and Sherry.

The process involved (as well as the resulting alcohol content) defines the finished product. Beer involves a relatively short (incomplete) fermentation process and an equally short aging process (a week or two) resulting in an alcohol content generally between 3-8%, as well as natural carbonation. Wine involves a longer (complete) fermentation process, and a relatively long aging process (months or years -- sometimes decades) resulting in an alcohol content between 7-18%. Sparkling wine is generally made by adding a small amount of sugar before bottling, which causes a secondary fermentation to continue in the bottle. Distilled products are generally not made from a "beer" that would normally be palatable as fermentation is normally completed, but no aging is involved until after distillation. Most are 30% or greater alcohol by volume. Liqueurs are characterized by the way in which their flavors are infused and typically have high sugar content. Spirits typically contain 37.5% alcohol or greater and are not infused with flavors during the distilling process, however some modern spirits are infused with flavors after distilling (the Swedish vodka Absolut, for instance).

Standard alcoholic drinks in the United States all contain the same amount of alcohol, about 0.6 fl. oz. (American) each (17.75ml). A U.S. standard drink is a 12 ounce can or bottle of beer, a five ounce glass of dinner wine, or a 1.5 ounce drink of 40% distilled spirits (either straight or in a mixed drink).

In the UK, alcohol content is measured in units. One unit equates to 10ml of pure ethanol (approx. ⅓ fl. oz. American). A typical large glass or pint of beer contains approximately 2 units. A shot (25ml) of 40% spirit contains exactly 1 unit.

The names of some beverages are determined by the source of the material fermented:


Source Name of fermented beverage Name of distilled beverage
barley beer, ale, barley wine Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey
rye rye beer. kvass rye whiskey, roggenkorn (type of Korn, from Germany)
corn chicha, corn beer bourbon whiskey, vodka (only a few, like Tito's from Texas)
sorghum burukutu (Nigeria), pito (Ghana), merisa (southern Sudan), bilibili (Chad, Central African Republic, Cameroon) maotai, gaoliang, certain other types of baijiu (China).
wheat wheat beer wheat whisky, weizenkorn (type of Korn, from Germany)
rice huangjiu, choujiu (China), sake, sonti, makkoli, tuak, thwon rice baijiu (China), Shōchū and Awamori (Japan), soju (Korea),
millet millet beer (sub-saharan Africa), tongba (Tibet)

Juice of Fruits

Source Name of fermented beverage Name of distilled beverage
juice of grapes, wine brandy, Cognac (France), Armagnac (France), Branntwein (Germany), pisco (Chile & Perú), "Rakia" also Rakiya, Rakija, Rakı (The Balkans, Turkey), singani (Bolivia), pálinka (Hungary)
juice of apples ("hard") cider, apfelwein applejack (or apple brandy), calvados, cider, lambic
juice of pears perry, or pear cider; poire (France) pear brandy, Eau-de-Vie (France)
juice of sugarcane, or molasses basi, betsa-betsa (regional) rum (Caribbean), pinga or cachaça (Brasil), aguardiente, guaro, shōchū (Japan)
juice of agave pulque tequila, mezcal
juice of plums plum wine slivovitz, tzuica, palinca
juice of pineapples tepache (Mexico)
bananas or plantains urgwagwa (Uganda, Rwanda), mbege (with millet malt; Tanzania), kasikisi (with sorghum malt; Democratic Republic of the Congo)
gouqi gouqi jiu (China) gouqi jiu (China)


Source Name of fermented beverage Name of distilled beverage
juice of ginger root ginger beer (Botswana)
potato and/or grain potato beer vodka: potato mostly used in Poland and Germany, otherwise grain or potato. A strong drink called aquavit or brännvin in Sweden, akvavit in Denmark and akevitt in Norway, and brennivín in (Iceland) is made from potato or grain. Actually, vodka is Russian for "little water" and can be done out of almost anything. - In Ireland, Poitín (or poteen) is a recently legalised drink made from potatoes. shōchū (Japan)
beets pink vodka / woman's vodka / girlie vodka (Russia)
cassava/manioc nihamanchi (South America), kasiri (sub-saharan Africa)


Source Name of fermented beverage Name of distilled beverage
sap of palm coyol wine (Central America), tembo (sub-saharan Africa)
honey mead, teg (Ethiopia) distilled mead ("mead brandy" or "honey brandy")
pomace pomace wine Raki (Turkey) tsipouro, tsikoudia (Greece), grappa (Italy), Trester (Germany), marc (France), zivania (Cyprus), aguardente (Portugal)
milk kumis or kefir Araka

Note that in common speech, wine or brandy is made from grapes unless the fruit is specified: "plum wine" or "cherry brandy" for example, although in some cases grape-derived alcohol is added.

In the USA and Canada, cider often means unfermented apple juice (see the article on cider), while fermented cider is called hard cider. Unfermented cider is sometimes called sweet cider. Also, applejack was originally made by a freezing process described in the article on cider which was equivalent to distillation but more easily done in the cold climate of New England. In the UK, cider is always alcoholic, and in Australia it can be either.

Beer is generally made from barley, but can sometimes contain a mix of other grains. Whisky (or whiskey) is sometimes made from a blend of different grains, especially Irish whiskey which may contain several different grains. The style of whisk(e)y (Scotch, Rye, Bourbon, corn) generally determines the primary grain used, with additional grains usually added to the blend (most often barley, and sometimes oats). As far as American whiskey is concerned, Bourbon (corn), rye whiskey, must be at least 51% of respective constituent at fermentation, while corn whiskey (as opposed to bourbon) must be at least 81% - all by American law similar to the french A.O.P (L'Appellation d'origine controlle)

Two common distilled beverages are vodka and gin. Vodka can be distilled from any source of agricultural origin (grain and potatoes being the most common) but the main characteristic of vodka is that it is so thoroughly distilled as to exhibit less of the flavors derived from its source material. Distillers and experts however will disagree, potato vodkas display a creamy mouthfeel, whilst rye vodkas will have heavy nuances of rye (detected more easily as rye bread). Other vodkas display citrus notes (more common among domestic brands). Gin is a similar distillate which has been flavored by contact with herbs and other plant products, especially juniper berries but also including angel root, licorice, cardamom, grains of paradise, Bulgarian rose petals, and many others. The name comes from the Dutch or French word for Juniper, jenever or genever.

See also


External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).