What’s the difference between spirit and liquor?

Answered by James Kissner

The difference between spirits and liquor lies in their alcohol content and the process of distillation. While both undergo distillation, they have different alcohol contents and requirements.

Liquor is a term used to refer to alcoholic beverages that are distilled from fermented beverages. It typically has a higher alcohol content and is commonly consumed in the form of whiskey, vodka, rum, gin, tequila, and other similar beverages. The alcohol content of liquor is measured in terms of proof, which represents the percentage of alcohol in the beverage. Liquors generally have a proof rating of 40% or higher, meaning they contain 40% alcohol by volume. The higher alcohol content gives liquor a stronger and more intense flavor profile.

On the other hand, spirits are also distilled alcoholic beverages, but they have a lower alcohol content compared to liquor. In order to be classified as a spirit, the beverage must have a minimum alcohol by volume (ABV) of 20%. Spirits include a wide range of beverages such as brandy, liqueurs, aperitifs, and fortified wines. They often have distinct flavors and are enjoyed for their unique characteristics.

The process of distillation is common to both spirits and liquor. Distillation involves heating a liquid (fermented beverage) and then cooling it to separate alcohol from other substances. The condensed alcohol vapor is collected and then diluted to the desired alcohol content. This process helps to purify the alcohol and enhance its potency.

It’s important to note that the terms “spirits” and “liquor” are often used interchangeably in some regions, and the specific categorization of certain beverages may vary. For example, in some countries, the term “spirit” may refer to any distilled alcoholic beverage, including those with higher alcohol content. However, the general distinction between the two lies in the alcohol content and proof rating.

To summarize, the main difference between spirits and liquor is the alcohol content. Liquor generally has a higher proof rating of 40% or more, while spirits have a minimum ABV requirement of 20%. Both undergo distillation, but liquor is distilled from fermented beverages and typically has a stronger flavor profile. Spirits, on the other hand, encompass a broader range of beverages with varying flavors and characteristics.