Alcohol is made by fermenting a natural source of sugar with a catalyst, which is usually yeast. As it ferments, the carbohydrates (starch and sugars) in the main source turn into carbon dioxide and ethyl alcohol, which is the basis for all alcohol drinks.
Many brands keep the exact recipe for their drinks a secret, known only to their distillers, brewers and vintners. However, every type of alcohol drink follows this basic process.
Beer is made with grains such as barley and wheat, and often flavoured with hops. When the grains and sugars have been malted and brewed for a certain time, additional grains and other ingredients are added for colour, flavour and/or clarity.
Did you know?
If you distill beer you create whisky (or whiskey) -- because they're made from the same ingredients. If you remove some of the water from beer by heating it until it becomes a gas and then cooling it until it is a liquid again, the concentrated alcohol that remains is whisk(e)y.
Wine is usually made from grapes, but other fruit or vegetables can be used. As the sugars in the fruit or vegetables ferment, the resulting liquid is wine.
Distilled spirits can be made from the widest variety of ingredients. These includes grains for whisk(e)y, sugarcane syrup and molasses for rum, and lots of different fruits and vegetables for vodka and gin.
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