Vodka is a type of spirits made from grains, potatoes or beets. It is currently produced in a number of different countries, including Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Sweden, Finland, the United States and France. Vodkas may be flavoured, like Polish Zubrówka which includes bison grass or others that offer a hint of lemon, pepper, etc. There are even vodkas with gold flakes.

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Agricultural rum is produced by fermenting sugar cane juice, creating a wine called “vesou,” which is then distilled. The cane juice used for agricultural rum is not boiled to extract the sugar, and therefore the natural aromas are preserved. Some types are kept in barrels for several years, a process that makes them smooth beyond compare.

Industrial or sugar mill rum is made from cane syrup or molasses, which is a by-product of cane sugar production.

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Dry gin

Dry gin is a type of spirits made with grains and flavoured with juniper berries, which explain the drink’s unique aroma. A pure alcohol is used as the base (generally rye or corn alcohol), which is then re-distilled and flavoured with juniper berries, as well as cilantro, ginger, lemon and orange peels, etc.

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Tequila is made from blue agave or Agave tequilana. In order to bear the “Tequila” appellation, it must be made exclusively in either the State of Jalisco or one of a few municipalities in the states of Nayarit, Michoacán, Guanajuato or Tamaulipas. Furthermore, real tequila must be made from at least 51% blue agave. Some tequilas are made purely from this plant, and thus are labelled “100% agave.”

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Whisky and Scotch

Whisky is a type of spirits normally made from malted barley, rye, oats or corn.

Types of Scotch

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Brandy is a type of spirits made by distilling wine. Produced in specific regions of France, the most well-known brandies are armagnac and cognac, which are made according to controlled appellation of origin (AOC) standards. These include legal stipulations on the process of ageing the alcohol barrels or where the brandies come from in their production region.

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Liqueurs are spirits that contain at least 23% alc./vol. and have been flavoured and coloured. Some are flavoured with fruit (Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, Cointreau), others with herbs (Chartreuse, Drambuie), and still others with spice, anise, vanilla, almonds, etc.

Spirits described as “crème de,” such as crème de cacao or crème de menthe, also fall into the liqueur category. These contain a minimum of 250 g of sugar per litre.

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Cream beverage

Cream liqueurs are spirits containing cream, which lends it a thick and smooth texture. Since these beverages tend to have lower alcohol content, they are technically not liqueurs and make up a category of their own. With a shelf life of one to two years, these beverages are best kept refrigerated after opening.

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Vermouth, an aperitif made from fortified and flavoured wines, can be served straight or in cocktails. While vermouth producers like to keep their recipes secret, we know that plants, spices and citrus zest are used as flavourings. Vermouth comes either white or red, the latter generally being sweeter.

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