Last Updated: 09/01/2017
Vodka is distilled from grains or potatoes. It is composed of mostly water and ethanol alcohol which gives it a neutral flavor. Vodka originates from eastern Europe, but today it is distilled worldwide. Flavor is often added to vodka by infusion or with artificial chemicals.
Gin is a spirit that has been primarily flavored with juniper berries which give it a "piney" taste. In addition to juniper, each gin is produced using a distinct variety of botanicals for flavoring. Gin is a derivation of the Dutch liquor Jenever and was traditionally very popular in the UK, although today it is produced worldwide.
Rum is distilled from byproducts of sugarcane (e.g. molasses or sugarcane juice). It may be aged in barrels but is also commonly bottled without aging. Rum gained prominence during European colonialism in the Caribbean.
Whiskey is distilled from a cereal grain mash, and is almost always aged in charred oak barrels. Because climate affects the aging process, there is a significant regional variation in flavor.
Brandy is produced by distilling wine and is quite sweet. In addition to grape wine, brandy is often made from other fruit wines. Brandy is one of the oldest commercially produced spirits in Western Europe.
Tequila is a type of Mezcal, which is produced by distilling a mash from fermented agave plant. Agave is a succulent plant native to Mexico and (apart from Mezcal production) produces nectar that can be used as a sweetener in cooking. Tequila and Mezcal are sometimes aged in barrels to enhance certain flavors.