Booze What is Champagne? Technically speaking, champagne is sparkling wine made in the Champagne region of France.

But it is often mistakenly used as a generic description of sparkling white wines in the style of the wines of Champagne. Champagne is produced as a blend between the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes. Champagne is designed to be drunk upon purchase, and in nearly all cases is not meant to be collectible. A non-vintage Champagne will begin losing quality within only three or four years, while prestige champagnes may last up to 15 years without degrading. Champagne is normally drunk from either a flute or tulip glass, both of which are skinny and tall. This shape allows the scents of the champagne to reach their full potential, and helps the bubbles last for longer than in flatter, larger-bowled glasses. The bigger brands include Moet & Chandon, Laurent Perrier and Krug. What is Single Malt? Single malt is so-called because the malt comes from a single distillery. It is a whisky refined by a single distillery, using malted barley as the only grain ingredient. Each distillery has its own distinct taste, flavour and style and single malts bear that. Some world-renowned single malts are Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, Glenlivet, Glenkinchie and if you move into the rare varieties, PortEllen, Dalmore, Glenfarclas, Isle of Jura, Knocdhu, Lagavulin, Laphroig, Macallan, Oban, Taliskar, Cragganmore. Enjoying a single malt is a connoisseur’s job and you have to learn to be one. A single grain, as distinct from a single malt, is a grain whisky made at one distillery, while the single malt is made with barley. What is Gin? Gin is a hard alcohol flavoured with the seeds of the juniper bush. Gin is a rather dry alcohol and is rarely drunk on its own, but used instead as a base for many different types of drinks. Good gin is very smooth, with a strong juniper flavour exciting the senses. Gin made its way to England with the ascension of William of Orange to the British throne. And a new style of gin evolved. Dutch gin is distilled from barley and is somewhat nearer whiskey than the London Dry style, which evolved in the 19th century. One difference today is that the London style, since it uses column stills, rather than the pot stills preferred by the Dutch, tends to have a higher alcohol concentration.

The famous brands include Beefeater London Dry gin, Bombay Sapphire, Plymouth and Tanqueray. A Dutch physician is believed to have invented the gin, who created a type now called Genever. It was initially used as a medicine in 17th century. WHAT IS ALCOHOL? Alcohol is obtained after breaking down natural sugar of grain into CO2, ethanol or ethyl alcohol and residual content. Yeast from grains and vegetables changes the sugar into alcohol. From the cheapest beer to the most expensive wine or after dinner liqueur, all alcohol is made with the same fermentation process. The different colours, tastes, potencies and flavours come from the different fruits or veg etables used and the additives, by-products and diluting substances employed during the fermentation process. What is Blended Whisky? Blended whisky is a mixture of single malt whiskys and ethanol derived from grains. Developed for those who could not stomach the strong taste of whisky, it is a combination of malt and grain whiskys. First distilled and bottled by Andrew Usher in Edinburgh in the early 1860s, it turned out to be softer, lighter and more palatable. The character of the whisky is determined not only by the proportions of malt and grain whisky, but also by the ages of the individual whiskies and the manner in which they are combined to bring out the finest qualities in each other. Most whisky drunk across the world is blended whisky. Famous Grouse, Bells, Teacher’s, Whyte & Mackay and Johnnie Walker are a few that are well-known. What is Vodka? Vodka is distilled from one of the following: corn, wheat, rye or potatoes. It is usually clear, perhaps tinted (by fruit or herbal additives etc), but always clear, never cloudy. Vodka is very rarely aged in barrels. Usually it goes from distillery to bottle to store and bar shelves. The exact history of vodka is unknown, though it most likely originated somewhere in the region of Poland or Russia between the 14th and 16th centuries. The word is thought to derive from Russian, meaning roughly “little water”. Although vodka is traditionally drunk neat in the vodka belt — Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries — its popularity, elsewhere, derives from its neutral spirit usefulness in cocktails and mixed drinks, such as the Bloody Mary, the Screwdriver, the White Russian, the vodka tonic, and the vodka martini.

Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Grey goose and Absolute are the more well known brands. What is Rum? Rum is distilled from sugar cane juice and/or molasses. It is aged in barrels to impart additional flavours. The first true rums were made in the Caribbean during the early 17th century by fermenting the molasses left over from refining sugar into a heady liquor. Barbados is held by many to be the birthplace of rum. Rum is one of the major liquors in the world, with a history steeped in the myths of piracy, the Caribbean, and slavery. Others include Bacardi and Captain Morgan.

What is Cognac? The wines of Poitou, La Rochelle and Angoumois, produced from high quality vineyards, were shipped to Northern Europe where they were enjoyed by the English, Dutch and Scandinavians as early as the 13th century. In the 16th century, they were transformed into eau-de-vie, then matured in oak casks to become Cognac. That was the start of the adventure for a town, which was to become the capital of a world famous trade. Cognac is a living thing. During its time in the oak casks it is in permanent contact with the air. This allows it to extract the substances from the wood that give both its colour and its final bouquet. Ageing is indispensable if an eau-de-vie is to become Cognac. It takes place in casks or barrels that hold between 270 and 450 litres. The natural humidity of the cellars, in which the casks are stored is one of the determining factors in the maturing process. What’s the difference - between WHISKY & WHISKEY? Alcohol, malted or not, made from grain which is produced in Scotland is called WHISKY, while it is called WHISKEY if it is produced in USA or Ireland. American whiskey is called Bourbon and is made from grain. Bourbon is at least 51% corn or maize. Scotch whisky is generally double distilled, while Irish whiskey is generally distilled three times. It is is whisky that has been distilled and matured in Scotland for at least three hours in oak casks. Wheat whisky is the rarest whisky. Rye whiskies are mostly popular within the US. What goes better with Whisky - Water or Soda? Whisky is preferred with water more than soda as soda is carbonated water and it kills the taste of whisky. But real connoisseurs of whisky like to have it neat or with water on side or with two cubes of ice.

Why should you never drink on an empty stomach? Experts say eating food before drinking retains alcohol in the system where it is absorbed slowly into the blood stream. This gives the liver more time to break the alcohol down. Otherwise, it is directly absorbed without being broken down into simpler compounds. This can be harmful for the liver and general health. The kick comes when the alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream directly and slows down the central nervous system; hence the reflexes and reactions are slower. Does drinking water before or between drinks help you hold your drink better? Dehydration causes your blood volume to go down and alcohol even more. So make it a habit to drink enough water before a hard drink. Experts say in case of alcohol consumption, the bigger you are the better it is. Big people have a larger quantity of blood, so alcohol they take in is more diluted as it mixes with blood. Women are generally smaller than men. They also have proportionately more fat and less water in their bodies and so the entration of alcohol in their blood is higher for the same amount drunk.

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