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A distilled beverage, spirit, liquor, or hard liquor is an alcoholic beverage produced by distillation of a mixture produced from alcoholic fermentation, such as wine. This process purifies it and removes diluting components like water, for the purpose of increasing its proportion of alcohol content.
As examples, this does not include beverages such as beer, wine, and cider, as they are fermented but not distilled. These all have relatively low alcohol content, typically less than 10%. However, brandy is a spirit, is distinct as a drink from wine (due to distillation), and has an ABV over 35%. Other examples of common distilled beverages include vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whisky, as well as Fruit Brandy or Schnapps.
The Pilgrims made the decision to stop at Plymouth Rock because they were running low on supplies, particularly alcohol.
The term spirit refers to a distilled beverage that contains no added sugar and has at least 20% alcohol by volume (ABV). Popular spirits include brandy, fruit brandy (also known as eau de vie or Schnapps), gin, rum, tequila, vodka, baijiu and whisky.
Vikings enjoyed alcohol, but they did not drink it from a mug, a bottle or any other traditional method. Instead, they preferred to toast to their victories by imbibing their favorite alcoholic beverages from the skulls of their defeated enemies.
Distilled beverages bottled with added sugar and added flavorings, such as Grand Marnier, Frangelico, and American schnapps, are known instead as liqueurs. In common usage, the distinction between spirits and liqueurs is widely unknown or ignored; as a consequence, in general, all alcoholic beverages other than beer and wine are referred to as spirits.
Until the mid-1600′s, wine makers in France used oil soaked rags in lieu of corks.
Beer and wine, which are not distilled beverages, are limited to a maximum alcohol content of about 20% ABV, as most yeasts cannot reproduce when the concentration of alcohol is above this level; as a consequence, fermentation ceases at that point.
In 1964, Congress declared Bourbon to be the official spirit of the United States.