Laboratory display of distillation: 1: A heating device 2: Still pot 3: Still head 4: Thermometer/Boiling point temperature 5: Condenser 6: Cooling water in 7: Cooling water out 8: Distillate/receiving flask 9: Vacuum/gas inlet 10: Still receiver 11: Heat control 12: Stirrer speed control 13: Stirrer/heat plate 14: Heating (Oil/sand) bath 15: Stirring means e.g.(shown), anti-bumping granules or mechanical stirrer 16: Cooling bath
A distilled beverage, liquor, or spirit is a drinkable liquid containing ethanol that is produced by means of distilling fermented grain, fruit, or vegetables. This excludes undistilled fermented beverages such as beer and wine, and often the term hard liquor is used to contrast distilled beverages from (implicitly weaker) undistilled ones.
The term spirit refers to a distilled beverage that contains no added sugar and has at least 20% ABV. Popular spirits include brandy, fruit brandy (aka eau-de-vie / Schnaps), gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whisky.
Distilled beverages that are bottled with added sugar and added flavorings, such as Grand Marnier, Frangelico, and American schnapps, are liqueurs. In common usage, the distinction between spirits and liqueurs is widely unknown or ignored; consequently all alcoholic beverages other than beer and wine are generally referred to simply as spirits.
The production of distilled spirits is based upon fermentation, the natural process of decomposition of organic materials containing carbohydrates. It occurs in nature whenever the two necessary ingredients, carbohydrate and yeast, are available. Yeast is a vegetative microorganism that lives and multiplies in media containing carbohydrates—particularly simple sugars. It has been found throughout the world, including frozen areas and deserts.
Distilled spirits are all alcoholic beverages in which the concentration of ethyl alcohol has been increased above that of the original fermented mixture by a method called distillation. The principle of alcoholic distillation is based upon the different boiling points of alcohol (78.5° C, or 173.3° F) and water (100° C, or 212° F). If a liquid containing ethyl alcohol is heated to a temperature above 78.5° C but below 100° C and the vapour coming off the liquid is condensed, the condensate will have a higher alcohol concentration, or strength.
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