What’s The Difference Between Liquor And Liqueur?

Liquor may be what comes to mind when many think of the word “alcohol.” According to Business Insider, liquor is a catchall term for any hard spirit that has a higher alcohol-by-volume (ABV) than wine or beer. American guidelines set the standard serving of wine at 5 ounces, containing 12% alcohol, and 12 ounces for beer, around 5% alcohol, via Stanford University.

Liquor includes the most common spirits on the back bar, such as Absolut, Jack Daniel’s, Espolòn, Sailor Jerry, Rémy Martin, and Evan Williams. These represent the six variations of liquor: vodka, rum, tequila, bourbon, brandy, and whiskey or “whisky,” depending on its region of origin.

Fermentation is essential to crafting and differentiating the various types of liquor. MasterClass maintains that for a hard alcohol or spirit to even be included in the liquor category, it must undergo fermentation and distillation processes. Liquors start with an organic base: grain or plants, depending on which liquor it’s destined to be. In the distillation process, it explains, heat and condensation cause a significant portion of the water to boil off, thereby concentrating the alcohol and increasing the alcohol content. 

Per A1 Wine and Spirit, once the fermentation process is complete, the distillation process begins, during which the liquid is purified and the alcohol content increases by at least 20% per volume. Tequila, vodka, and rum have an ABV of 40%, while whiskey clocks in at 55%, reports A1.


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