Spirits (Collins Gem)
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This Gem guides you through the range of spirits and the most popular liqueurs and fortified wines. Discover how the drink is made, where it came from, how to drink it and what to mix with it, along with recommendations on what to buy.
For each drink included, information is given on its history, how it is made (and from what), along with explanation of the different styles of the drink – London Gin, Sapphire Gin, etc. and recommendations.
where Bundaberg is the country’s most popular brand of spirit. In Brazil, rum is more commonly known as ‘aguardente’, and is defined as a cane spirit, clear and unaged, rather than as rum. Akvavits The ‘water of life’, akvavit, aquavit, aqua libra, eau de vie or uisge beathe, lies at the very heart of spirit drinks. It is the base metal which the distiller turns into gold. Where further processing transforms it into whisky, brandy, gin or vodka, left to its own devices akvakit becomes a spirit
untold numbers of hangovers, but it is also partly responsible for one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century: Malcolm Lowry’s beautiful but terrifying vision of an alcoholic’s last day on earth, Under the Volcano. Liqueurs and Bitters A liqueur is defined as any alcoholic drink that is sweetened and flavoured with aromatic substances, or as a blend of brandy and sugar-based drinks made from fruit or herbs. The origin of the word is the subject of some debate: most dictionaries settle
unusually, rhubarb. There is also a sweet ‘mint’ version, Branca Menta. Forbidden Fruit One of the few American liqueurs, this is made from orange, honey and shaddock, a large, orange-sized relative of the grapefruit family. It was first popularized by the restaurant Del Monico’s in New York as an alternative to the Martini. This hard-to-locate liqueur is bottled in probably the most ornate bottle of any liqueur: a globe-shaped bottle decorated with gilt to give it the appearance of a royal
alcoholic content, commonly to around 40% abv, where it will be transferred to casks for maturing. Any whisky has to be at least three years old before it can legally be sold. Malts are left for between eight and fifteen years, some even longer. Pot stills at the Glenallachie distillery Grain whisky, produced in Scotland, North America and elsewhere, employs the continuous patent (or Coffey) still. The process here is much quicker and much cleaner and, because it is continuous, it is possible
Following the one-batch-at-a-time process of the pot still, the first distillation produces what is known as the ‘brouillis’, a spirit of between 25–30% alcoholic proof, which is then distilled again. Like the middle cut in whiskey production, the distiller is looking for the ‘heart’ of the distillation (which contains the best Cognac) and not the ‘head’ or ‘tail’, as this, like the foreshots and aftershots of whiskey, will be reprocessed. The result is a brandy approaching (but not exceeding)