From Grain, Grapes, Fruits or Vegetables?
Distillers have a number of choices when it comes to making spirits. All spirits start out as fermented beverages. By boiling the fermented liquid and passing the alcohol-ladened vapors through a coil, distillers use condensation to create the liquid spirit.
But what you start with determines what you end up with. There are grains, with barley, corn and rye being the classics. Sugar cane is used for rum. Fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes, plums, pears, agave, apples and grapes, are all used as basic ingredients in various spirits.
The key is that they all have sugars available that can be converted into alcohol.
Rick Lyke is a drinks journalist based in Charlotte, NC.