The carbonated spirits that provide fizz in each alcoholic beverage are produced through a process collectively referred to as fermentation. This is a complex biochemical process involving the metabolism of sugar in the raw material by the cultured yeast. This is the only known method of making spirits.
A large amount of sugar-rich raw materials can be fermented to produce ethanol and a variety of foods, which can be used to make different spirits. If you use grapes and berries, you can make wine. Japanese sake is made from fermented rice, koji, and water. If you use potatoes or wheat, you can produce vodka.
The purpose of yeast fermentation is to allow organisms to consume all available sugars, convert them into energy, and produce ethanol as a by-product, which is the safest type for human consumption and one of all alcoholic beverages. Yeast will continue to feed on sugar and then excrete alcohol until the alcohol content or ABV reaches a maximum of 15% to 17%, at which point the yeast will not survive.
|Fermented but not distilled spirits|
Although all alcoholic beverages need to undergo fermentation, not all alcoholic beverages must undergo a distillation process. This is a list of examples.
Beer is made by fermenting malted barley with brewer's yeast and flavored with hops. The malting method involves soaking grains in water to stimulate their germination and release enzymes to break down starch. On average, most beer has an alcohol content of 4.5%.
Wine is made from the fermentation of fruits rich in natural sugars, such as grapes, berries, and apples. The alcohol content of most wines varies, but can reach an ABV of 13% to 20%.
Hard cider is made by fermenting fruit juice, usually apples. Its alcohol content can be between 4% and 7% ABV.
Mead is a spirit made by fermenting honey with water. Its average alcohol content can range from 3% to 20%.
Sake is an iconic alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice and comes from Japan. Koji, also known as Aspergillus oryzae, is a special fungus that can mature into mold, which contains the necessary amylase to decompose starch in rice. The alcohol concentration of sake is about 16% ABV.
|Types of distilled spirits|
Distilled spirits naturally boast a higher alcohol concentration. Here are some examples:
Gin is a distilled spirit, the national spirit of the United Kingdom. It is mainly flavored with juniper berries and other plant extracts. The average alcohol content of gin is 40% ABV.
Brandy is essentially a distilled wine made from the fermentation of grapes. Its alcohol content can reach 35% to 60% ABV.
Whiskey is a distilled spirit made from the fermentation of grains (including corn, barley, rye, and wheat). It has an ABV of 40% to 60%.
Rum is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented sugar cane syrup or sugar cane juice. Its average alcohol content is 40 to 75 ABV.
Absinthe is a distilled spirit flavored with fennel and other herbs. It has an impressively high alcohol content, with an average ABV of 75%.
Vodka from Russia and Poland is distilled from fermented potatoes, grains or fruits. It has an ABV of 40%.
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