A Comprehensive Guide to Classification of 18 Different Alcoholic Beverages

Classification of Alcoholic Beverages

An alcoholic beverage is a drink containing ethanol (CH3CH2OH). Ethanol, the active ingredient in alcoholic drink is produced by fermentation–the metabolism of carbohydrates by certain species of yeast in the absence of Oxygen.

Alcoholic beverages are a diverse group of drinks that can be classified in a number of ways. One common way to classify alcoholic beverages is by their alcohol content. This can be done by volume (ABV), which is the percentage of alcohol by volume in a drink. For example, beer typically has an ABV of 4-6%, wine has an ABV of 12-15%, and hard liquor has an ABV of 35-50%.

Another way to classify alcoholic beverages is by their production method. Fermented beverages are made by adding yeast to a sugary liquid, such as fruit juice or grain mash. The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Distilled beverages are made by heating fermented beverages to a high temperature, which vaporizes the alcohol. The vapor is then condensed back into a liquid, which is higher in alcohol content than the original beverage.

Finally, alcoholic beverages can also be classified by their region of origin. For example, sake is a fermented beverage that originated in Japan, while tequila is a distilled beverage that originated in Mexico.

This introduction paragraph provides a general overview of the different ways that alcoholic beverages can be classified. It also introduces some of the key concepts that will be discussed in the blog post, such as alcohol content, production methods, and regional origins.


Classification of Alcoholic Beverages

Fermented Alcoholic Beverages

1) Beer

Beer is produced by the fermentation of sugars derived from starch-based material—the most common being malted barley; however, wheat, corn, and rice are also widely used, usually in conjunction with barley.

The starch source is steeped in water. Enzymes in the malt break down the starch molecules, producing a sugary liquid known as wort, which is then flavoured with hops, which acts as a natural preservative. Other ingredients such as herbs or fruit may be added. Yeast is then used to ferment, which produces alcohol and other waste products from anaerobic respiration of the yeast as it consumes the sugars. The process of beer production is called brewing.

2) Wine

Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermentation of grape juice. The natural chemical balance of grapes is such that they can ferment without the addition of sugars, acids, enzymes or other nutrients. Wine is produced by fermenting crushed grapes using various types of yeast which consume the sugars found in the grapes and convert them into alcohol. Various varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts are used depending on the types of wine produced.

3) Cider

Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of cider apples mainly, though pears are also used. In the United States and parts of Canada, where the term cider almost exclusively refers to non-alcoholic apple juice (apple cider), the phrase hard cider is used to denote the fermented version.


The drink varies In alcohol content from less than 3% in French cidre doux to 8.5% or above in traditional English ciders. Sparkling and still ciders are made; sparkling is more common.

4) Perry

Perry or pear cider is an alcoholic beverage made of fermented pear juice. It is similar to cider, in that it is made using a similar process and often has a similar alcoholic content, around 8.5% alcohol by volume.

Perry has been common for centuries in Britain, particularly the West Country and Wales; and France, especially Normandy and Anjou.

5) Sake

Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage produced by multiple fermentation of rice, which is similar to how beer is produced

In Japan sake is served cold, warm or hot, depending on the preference of the drinker, the quality of the sake and the season. Sake is one of the few alcoholic beverages that is regularly consumed hot. Typically, hot sake is consumed in winter and cold sake is consumed in summer.

Sake is served in shallow cups, called choko. Usually sake is poured into the choko from ceramic flasks called tokkuri. Other, more ceremonial cups, used most commonly at weddings and other special occasions, are called sakazuki.


6) Mead

Mead or honey wine is a fermented alcoholic beverage made of honey, water, and yeast. A mead that also contains spices (like cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg) or herbs (such as oregano, hops, or even lavender or chamomile) is called metheglin.

7) Toddy or Palm wine

Toddy is an alcoholic beverage with a short shelf life created from the sap of various species of palm tree. The drink is common to parts of Africa ; South India, Sri Lanka; Myanmar; Philippines, etc.

In parts of India, the unfermented sap is called “neera” and is refrigerated, stored and distributed as an unfermented refreshing drink by semi-government agencies. A little lime is added to the sap to prevent it from fermenting.

Palm sap begins fermenting immediately after collection due to natural yeasts in the air (this is often spurred by residual yeast left in the collecting container). Within two hours, fermentation yields an aromatic wine of up to 4% alcohol content, mildly intoxicating and sweet. Longer fermentation produces vinegar instead of stronger wine.

Palm wine may be distilled to create a stronger drink, which goes by different names depending on the region (examples are arrack, charayam).

8) Pulque, or octli

Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of the maguey (agave plant), and is a traditional native beverage of Mesoamerica. Pulque is still made and drunk in limited quantities in parts of Mexico today.

Distilled Alcoholic Beverages

9) Whisky

Whisky(Scottish Gaelic: uisge-beatha), or whiskey (Irish: uisce beatha or fuisce), refers to a broad category of alcoholic beverages that are distilled from fermented grain mash and aged in wooden casks (generally oak).


Different grains are used for different varieties, including: barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and maize (corn). Whisky derives from the Gaelic word for “water” (uisce or uisge), and is called in full uisge-beatha (in Scotland) or uisce beatha (Ireland), meaning “Water of Life”. It is related to the Latin aqua vitae, also meaning “water of life”.

10) Brandy

Brandy (derived from brandywine, from Dutch brandewijn—‘burnt wine’ is a spirit produced by means of distilling grape wine. Brandy may contain 40%–60% alcohol by volume and is normally consumed as an after-dinner drink.

11) Rum

Rum is a distilled beverage made from sugarcane by-products such as molasses and sugarcane juice by a process of fermentation and distillation, then usually aged in oak and other barrels. The majority of the world’s rum production occurs in and around the Caribbean islands and in several South American countries, such as Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Brazil, though there are rum producers in places such as Australia, Fiji, India, Reunion Island, Mauritius, and elsewhere around the world.

12) Vodka

Vodka is one of the world’s most popular neutral tasting distilled beverages, being drunk as a chilled shot or in cocktails. It is a clear liquid containing water and ethanol purified by distillation — often multiple distillation — from a fermented substance such as potatoes, grain or sugar beet molasses, and an Insignificant amount of other substances such as flavorings or unintended impurities.

Vodka usually has an alcohol content of 35% to 50% by volume. The classic Russian, Lithuanian and Polish vodka is 40% (80 proof). Flavored versions such as with lemon, mandarin orange, pepper, cranberry, etc of existing brands have become popular in recent years with flavors.

13) Gin

Gin is a spirit flavoured with juniper berries. Distilled gin is made by redistilling white grain spirit which has been flavoured with juniper berries. Compound gin is made by flavouring neutral grain spirit with juniper berries without redistilling and can be considered similar to a flavoured vodka.

The most common style of gin, typically used for mixed drinks, is London dry gin. London dry gin is made by taking a neutral grain spirit (usually produced in a column still) and redistilling it after the botanicals are added.

14) Tequila

Tequila is a spirit made primarily in the area surrounding Tequila, a town in the western Mexican state of Jalisco, 65 km northwest of Guadalajara and in the highlands of Jalisco. It is made from the blue agave (Agave tequilana azul), which is native to Mexico. Tequila is most often made at a 38–40% alcohol content (76–80 proof), but there are also several varieties of tequila produced with 43–46% alcohol content (86–92 proof).


15) Akvavit

Akvavit, also known as aquavit or akevitt, is a Scandinavian distilled beverage of typically about 40% alcohol by volume, made mainly in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Its name comes from aqua vitae, the Latin for “water of life”. Akvavit, like vodka, is distilled from either potato or grain. It is flavoured with herbs such as caraway seeds, anise, dill, fennel and coriander.


16) Fenny or Feni

Feni/ fenny is an Indian liquor originating in Goa.

Coconut fenny is made from coconut palm sap. Cashew fenny, made from the cashew apple, is also called Kaju fenny.

Bitters are a preparation of herbs and citrus dissolved in alcohol or glycerine with a bitter or bittersweet flavor. Bitters were formerly manufactured as patent medicines with an alcoholic strength of up to 45%, often serving as digestifs. The few remaining varieties are principally used as apéritifs or as flavorings in cocktails.

Common ingredients in bitters include: angostura bark, cascarilla, cassia, gentian, orange peel, and quinine. Bitters are prepared by infusion or distillation, utilizing aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and/or fruit for their flavor and medicinal properties.

As cocktail bitters such as Angostura bitters

17) Campari

Campari is a branded bitters obtained from the infusion of bitter and aromatic herbs, plants and fruit in alcohol and water. It was invented by Gaspare Campari between 1862 and 1867.


18) Liqueurs

Liqueurs are high-alcohol, high-sugar beverages with added flavorings usually derived from herbs, fruits, or nuts. Popular examples are Bailey’s Irish Cream, Cointreau, Drambuie, Kahlua, Tia Maria, etc.


Liqueurs are distinct from flavored liquors, fruit brandy and eau de vie which contain no sugar. Due to their sweetness they are popular as after-dinner drinks.

Most liqueurs range between 15 and 70 percent alcohol by volume.


In conclusion, alcoholic beverages can be classified into three main categories: fermented beverages, distilled beverages, and liqueurs. Fermented beverages are made by fermenting a starch or sugar source with yeast, which produces alcohol. Distilled beverages are made by distilling fermented beverages, which concentrates the alcohol and removes some of the water. Liqueurs are made by mixing a distilled beverage with sugar, flavorings, and other additives.

I hope you found this blog post informative and helpful. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment below.


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