Jump to content Jump to search

Get to Know Liquors Better

American Whiskey

American whiskey is distilled from a mash of fermented grains, and there are several types of American whiskey, including malt and corn whiskey. The four most common, however, are bourbon, Tennessee whiskey, blended and rye whiskey. Ready to learn the difference?

Canadian Whisky

Canadian whisky is distilled primarily from the fermented mash of corn, wheat, rye or barley. The finished product is usually a blend of whiskies. In order to be labeled a Canadian whisky, for starters, the spirit must be aged in Canada and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof.

Irish Whiskey

Traditionally, the base used in Irish whiskey is barley, and there are several types of Irish whiskey to choose from, including pure pot still, single malt, single grain, and blended. Learn what it takes for a spirit to be called Irish whiskey and how it differs from Scotch (or, in some cases, how it's strikingly similar).


Rum is made from sugarcane byproducts or directly from sugarcane juice. Its standards differ drastically from nation to nation due to lax regulations. Consequently, you will find different varieties produced throughout the world. The main thing to know is that there's more to rum than what's found in your fruity drink with a tiny umbrella.


Vodka is made primarily with water and ethanol alcohol of agricultural origin. The United States and the European Union have slightly different definitions of vodka. The notable difference is that the US strives to eliminate the taste and aroma of the spirit, while the EU only aims to reduce it. 


Today’s gin is derives its primary flavor from juniper berries. Its base is typically wheat or rye, which results in a light-bodied spirit. Each gin is different and will usually have a number of other plant-based ingredients that add to the flavor. There are three main types of gins: compound, distilled and London dry gin.


Tequila is probably best known for a bar shot with lime and salt. If that's the only way you know tequila, you're doing yourself a disservice. For one, you're likely drinking horrible tequila. There are plenty of tequilas that are wonderful to sip and actually taste. Get to know the better side of tequila, including the different varieties.


Scotch whisky (typically referred to simply as Scotch) is distilled from malted barley or unmalted grains and aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels. Scotch is divided into five categories, and, as its name suggests, must be made in Scotland.


Other Liquors You Should Know


Cordials, also known as liqueurs, are generally low in alcohol content and high in sugar. Crème cordials indicate a higher sugar content than regular cordials, sometimes as high as 35%. They are often used to sweeten up and improve mixed cocktails but many can also be enjoyed on their own. Cordials often begin with a base liquor, such as a neutral grain alcohol, whiskey, rum, or brandy. Sugar is then added to the base, along with herbs, fruits and/or spices depending on the desired flavor.


There are many different types of cordials that are produced by multiple brands, such as absinthe, amaretto, Irish cream, and triple sec. There are also exclusive blends protected by specific brands. For example, St. Germain, Frangelico, Hpnotiq and Benedictine.


Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey was one of the first spirits in the New World and was widely popular until the 1920s. Even George Washington distilled his own batch on Mt. Vernon. However, after prohibition the American palate turned to lighter spirits such as gin and blended whiskey. But today’s consumers are searching for a more robust spirit. For that they have turned their sights, and livers, back to rye.


In the United States, rye whiskey is required by law to meet the following requirements:

  • Made from a grain mixture of 51% rye (the remaining balance is generally made up of corn and malted barley)
  • Aged in new charred-oak barrels
  • Distilled to no more than 160 proof and barreled for aging at no more than 125 proof
  • Bottled at a minimum of 80 proof

Straight rye whiskey must meet all the requirements of regular rye whiskey, but also must be aged at least two years and free of added colorings, flavorings, or other spirits.


American rye whiskeys are known for their spicy, bold character. They are typically drier and slightly more bitter than their popular cousin, bourbon. Thanks to their rich flavor profile, ryes have great versatility and works well with a variety of cocktails.


Brandy, a spirit distilled from wine or other fermented fruit juices, derives its name from the Dutch word brandewijn (meaning “burnt wine”).


There are three main types of brandy: Grape, Fruit, and Pomace.


Grape brandy is produced by the distillation of fermented grapes and aged in wooden casks. The wood colors the spirit, mellows the taste, and enhances the aromas and flavors. Grape brandy can be further broken down into the following popular styles

  • Cognac comes from the Cognac region of France and has strict requirements dictating its production. At least 90% of the grapes used must be of the Colombard, Ugni Blanc, or Folle Blanc varieties and it must be distilled in a traditional method using copper pots. All Cognac is aged a minimum of 2 years, with some being aged twenty years or longer.
  • Armagnac is made from grapes of the Armagnac region in Gascony, France. Traditional Armagnac is distilled only once in a small continuous still and aged in oak cask from Gascony or Limousin.
  • American Brandy has become more respected and popular in recent years, with the vast majority coming from the state of California. There are no regulations as to the grapes used in these brandies so the differences between brands can vary greatly.
  • Pisco is a strong, colorless to amber colored brandy produced in specific regions of Chile and Peru.

Fruit brandy is distilled from fruits other than grapes, such as cherry, apricot, plums, and apples. Popular fruit brandies include the cherry-flavored Kirsch, the apple-flavored Calvados and the anise based Ouzo.


Pomace brandy (also called Marc and Grappa) is produced by fermentation and distillation of the grape skins, seeds, and stems that remain after grapes have been pressed to extract their juice for making wine and are minimally aged, if at all. They tend to be harsher in taste, although they can offer a fruity aroma of the type of grape used, a characteristic that is lost in oak-aged Brandy.


Brandy has a traditional quality rating system, which is mainly used in Cognacs. In this system, the age of the youngest brandy in the blend is used to determine its classification.

  • V.S. (“Very Special”) is aged at least 2 years in wood
  • V.S.O.P (“Very Superior Old Pale”) is aged at least 4 years in wood
  • Napoleon is aged a minimum of 6 years in wood
  • X.O. (“Extra Old”) is also aged at least 6 years in wood, although most cognacs of this designation are much older. (In 2016, the minimum will be set at 10 years)
  • Hors d’age is often too old to determine the age, and is typically used to indicate a very high quality product.

Green's On the Go

Find your favorite liquor, from American Whiskey and Vodka to Rum and Scotch, with our convenient app.