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Distilled, unsweetened alcoholic beverages, known as “spirits,” have the highest alcohol content. They vary widely in flavor depending on whether they are made from fermented grain, fruit or vegetables, and how they are aged.

 

  • Absinthe

    This green spirit takes its name from Artemisia absinthium, the wormwood plant that has long been used for medicinal purposes. Some modern varieties still include this herb along in their complex blends of botanicals and aromatics.
     
  • Applejack

    This American spirit was originally made from apples through a process known as fractional freezing. Modern versions are usually made more like traditional brandies, from the distillation of hard cider.
     
  • Brandy

    Made by distilling grapes to a higher proof than they achieve as wine, brandy can also be produced from the fermented juices of other fruits. The best versions are aged in wooden casks, where they become smooth, richly colored and complex in flavor.
     
  • Pear Brandy

    Known in French as eau-de-vie de poire, this boldly fruity brandy can be distilled from pear juice or pear cider.
     
  • Apple Brandy

    The best apple brandies are made in the style of Calvados, a French spirit from Normandy that is aged in old and new oak barrels for at least eight years.
     
  • Cognac Brandy

    Named after the French town of Cognac where it is produced, this brandy must be twice distilled and aged at least two years in French oak barrels.
     
  • Cherry Brandy

    Also known as Kirsch, this clear, colorless brandy is made from a double distillation of cherries, traditionally the tart morello variety.
     
  • Pisco Brandy

    This clear or pale amber brandy is produced in the winemaking regions of South America, where it is aged for a minimum of three months in the elongated clay pitchers from which its name derives.
     
  • Cachaça

    Made from the juice of the first pressing of sugarcane, this is Brazil’s most popular spirit. Much like brandy, it is aged in barrels made of oak or native Brazilian woods.
     
  • Gin

    Since its origins in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved from herbal medicine to cocktail staple. It’s one of the broadest categories of spirits, with diverse flavor profiles unified around the common ingredient of juniper berries.
     
  • London Dry Gin

    This crisp style with a balanced bouquet of natural juniper and citrus, and no added flavorings or colorings, encompasses the majority of popular brands.
     
  • Old Tom Gin

    Popular in 18th-century England, this spirit has subtly nuanced herbal flavors and is slightly sweeter and lower alcohol than London dry.
     
  • Mezcal

    The fermented mash of the maguey plant, a kind of agave native to Mexico, is roasted over fire and imparts caramelized, smoky flavors to this complex, clear spirit.
     
  • Rum

    Rum is made from sugarcane juice or molasses through a process of fermentation and distillation. Its inherent sweetness and rich complexity are then enhanced as it ages in oak barrels.
     
  • Light Rum

    Also referred to as “silver” or “white,” this mild, lightly sweet spirit is filtered after aging to remove all color.
     
  • Dark Rum

    Usually made from caramelized sugar or molasses and aged in heavily charred barrels, dark rum has a robust flavor with hints of spice.
     
  • Aged Rum

    The intensity of flavor and color varies according to the length of time rum is aged and the material in which it ages, including oak casks and stainless steel tanks.
     
  • Gold Rum

    Stronger-tasting than light rum, this style, often aged in charred bourbon barrels, sits between light rum and the darker varieties.
     
  • Spiced Rum

    A darker, bolder rum based on gold rum that has been infused with spices, including cinnamon, rosemary, anise and pepper.
     
  • Spiced Black Rum

    Similar to Spiced Rum but crafted with a darker blackstrap molasses rum.
     
  • Coconut Rum

    This is essentially a liqueur, as sweetened coconut is added to help intensify the flavor.
     
  • Overproof Rum

    This rum, mostly used to flambé, is distilled to a much higher proof than the standard, often as high as 160 proof.
     
  • Tequila

    Distilled from the blue agave plant, tequila originated as a kind of mezcal and shares with it a distinctive grassy flavor. As it ages, this bold spirit mellows and takes on the flavors of the wood casks.
     
  • Tequila Blanco

    This bright, clear “white” or “silver” tequila is either bottled immediately after distillation or aged for less than two months.
     
  • Tequila Reprosado

    This tequila is “rested” for at least two months or up to a year in oak barrels.
     
  • Tequila Añejo

    Aged for a minimum of one year in oak barrels, this tequila turns a rich amber color and gains richness and complexity.
     
  • Vodka

    This clear spirit is traditionally made from the distillation of fermented cereal grains or potatoes, though some modern versions are made from fruits or sugar. Its clean, neutral taste makes it ideal for flavorful infusions.
     
  • Flavored Vodka

    Vodka is available bottled in flavors like citron and orange (to name but a few), but it’s also quite easy to make your own flavors through a simple infusion process. By steeping fresh ingredients in vodka, you can create spirits flavored with everything from bacon to cranberries.
     
  • Potato Vodka

    The best potato vodka has a silky, voluptuous mouthfeel.
     
  • Wheat Vodka

    Because wheat is a delicate grain, this style is light and crisp, with notes of fresh citrus.
     
  • Rye Vodka

    This newly popular vodka is velvety and smooth with a lemony, nutty character.
     
  • Whiskey

    Made from fermented grain mash—barley, corn, rye and wheat—whiskey is a strictly regulated spirit, typically aged in wooden casks made of charred white oak.
     
  • Bourbon

    Long produced in Kentucky, bourbon is distilled from corn and aged until it turns amber in color and acquires rich notes of vanilla, spice and caramel.
     
  • Canadian Whiskey

    Typically lighter and smoother than other whisky styles, this one is made from blended multi-grain liquors that contain a large percentage of corn.
     
  • Irish Whiskey

    Irish whiskey is triple-distilled for a smoother, milder finish that has little of the smoky earthiness of Scotch whiskey.
     
  • Scotch

    There are five distinct categories of Scotch: single malt, single grain, blended malt, blended grain and blended. All must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years.
     
  • Rye Whiskey

    American rye whiskey must be distilled from at least 51% rye. When it’s aged in charred oak barrels for at least two years, it earns the designation “straight.”
     
  • White Rye Whiskey

    This traditional American spirit, with peppery and floral notes, barely touches the barrel before being bottled.