Mezcal: General Knowledge

Mezcal

 
  Various views of a bottle of mezcal. The worm can be seen in the middle image, at the bottom of the bottle.

Mezcal, or mescal, is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant (a form of agaveAgave americana) native to Mexico. The word mezcal comes from Nahuatl mexcalli[meʃ’kalːi] metl [met͡ɬ] and ixcalli [iʃ’kalːi] which means “oven-cooked agave”.[1]

The maguey grows in many parts of Mexico, though most mezcal is made in Oaxaca.[2] There is a saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink: “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien también” (“for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well”).[3][4]

It is unclear whether distilled drinks were produced in Mexico before the Spanish Conquest.[5] The Spaniards were introduced to native fermented drinks such as pulque, also made from the maguey plant. Soon the conquistadors began experimenting with the maguey plant to find a way to make a distillable fermented mash. The result was mezcal.[6]

Today, mezcal is still made from the heart of the maguey plant, called the “piña”, much the same way it was 200 years ago, in most places.[3][7] In Mexico, mezcal is generally consumed straight and has a strong smoky flavor.[7] Though mezcal is not as popular as tequila (a mezcal made specifically from the blue agave in select regions of the country), Mexico does export the product, mostly to Japan and the United States, and exports are growing.[8]

Despite the similar name, mezcal does not contain mescaline or other psychedelic substances.[9]

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Tequila: General Knowledge

Tequila

 
This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For other uses, see Tequila (disambiguation).
  Tequilas of various styles

Tequila (Spanish pronunciation: [teˈkila]) is a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 65 kilometres (40 mi) northwest of Guadalajara, and in the highlands (Los Altos) of the western Mexican state of Jalisco.

The blue volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well suited to the growing of the blue agave, and more than 300 million of the plants are harvested there each year.[1] Agave tequila grows differently depending on the region. Blue agaves grown in the highlands region are larger in size and sweeter in aroma and taste. Agaves harvested in the lowlands, on the other hand, have a more herbaceous fragrance and flavor.[2]

Mexican laws state that tequila can be produced only in the state of Jalisco and limited regions in the states of GuanajuatoMichoacánNayarit, and Tamaulipas.[3] Mexico is granted international right to the word “tequila”.[citation needed] The United States officially recognizes that spirits called “tequila” can only be produced in Mexico, although by agreement bulk amounts can be shipped to be bottled in the U.S.[4]

Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but can be produced between 31–55% alcohol content (62–110 proof).[5]

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Gin: General Knowledge

Gin

This article is about the alcoholic beverage.For other uses, see Gin (disambiguation).
  A selection of bottled gins offered at a liquor store

Gin is a spirit which derives its predominant flavour from juniper berries (Juniperus communis). From its earliest beginnings in the Middle Ages, gin has evolved over the course of a millennium from a herbal medicine to an object of commerce in the spirits industry. Today, the gin category is one of the most popular and widely distributed range of spirits, and is represented by products of various origins, styles, and flavor profiles that all revolve around juniper as a common ingredient.[1][2]

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Rum: General Knowledge

Rum

 
This article is about the beverage. For other uses, see Rum (disambiguation).
  Rum display in a liquor store
  Government House rum, manufactured by the Virgin Islands Company distillery in St. Croix, circa 1941

Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from sugarcane byproducts such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice, by a process of fermentation and distillation. The distillate, a clear liquid, is then usually aged in oak barrels. Rum can be referred to in Spanish by descriptors such as ron viejo (“old rum”) and ron añejo (“aged rum”).

The majority of the world’s rum production occurs in the Caribbean and Latin America (including the Dominican RepublicNicaraguaBelizeMartiniqueGuatemala,ColombiaCosta RicaVenezuelaGuadeloupeSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesGrenadaBarbadosJamaicaSt.LuciaTrinidad and TobagoPuerto RicoU.S. Virgin IslandsBrazilHaitiGuyanaPeru, and Cuba). Rum is also produced in SpainAustraliaNew ZealandFijiMexicoHawaiithe PhilippinesIndiaReunion IslandMauritiusSouth AfricaTaiwanJapan, United States and Canada.

Light rums are commonly used in cocktails, whereas “golden” and “dark” rums were typically consumed individually (i.e., “straight” or “neat”) or used for cooking, but are now commonly consumed with mixers. Premium rums are also available, made to be consumed either straight or iced.

Rum plays a part in the culture of most islands of the West Indies as well as in the Canadian Maritimes and Newfoundland. This beverage has famous associations with the Royal Navy (where it was mixed with water or beer to make grog) and piracy (where it was consumed as bumbo). Rum has also served as a popular medium of economic exchange, used to help fund enterprises such as slavery, organized crime, and military insurgencies (e.g., the American Revolution and Australia’s Rum Rebellion). SeeTriangular trade.

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Vodka: General Knowledge

Vodka

This article is about the liquor. For other uses, see Vodka (disambiguation).
Vodka (PolishwódkaRussian: водка) is a distilled beverage composed primarily of water and ethanol, sometimes with traces of impurities and flavorings. Vodka is made by the distillation of fermented substances such as grainspotatoes, or sometimes fruits or sugar.

Vodka is a spirit that was virtually unknown in the United States prior to the 1940s.[1] Traditionally prepared vodkas had an alcoholic content of 40% by volume.[citation needed]Today, the standard UkrainianPolishRussian, Latvian and Lithuanian vodkas are 40% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 80 proof. The European Union has established a minimum of 37.5% ABV for any “European vodka” to be named as such.[2][3] Products sold as vodka in the United States must have an alcoholic content of 30% or more.[4] For homemade vodkas and distilled beverages referred to as “moonshine”, see moonshine by country.

Vodka is traditionally drunk neat in the vodka belt countries of Eastern Europe and around the Baltic Sea. It is also commonly used in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as theBloody MaryScrewdriverSex on the BeachMoscow MuleWhite RussianBlack Russianvodka tonic, and in a vodka martini.

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Whisky: General Knowledge

Whisky

This article is about the alcoholic beverage. For other uses, see Whisky (disambiguation).

  Whisky on the rocks.

Whisky or whiskey[1] is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. Different grains are used for different varieties, including barleymalted barleyrye, malted rye, wheat, and corn. Whisky is typically aged in wooden casks, made generally of charred white oak.

Whisky is a strictly regulated spirit worldwide with many classes and types. The typical unifying characteristics of the different classes and types are the fermentation of grains, distillation, and aging in wooden barrels.

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