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Alcohol by Volume. The strength of the liquor referred to as a percentage of pure alcohol contained in the liquid. E.g. 37.5%. Referred to as 'proof' in many other countries (see below).
An Agave is a succulent plant that is used in the production of Tequila and Mezcal. Found mostly in Mexico, taking between 8 and 12 years to grow to full maturity. The main variety being the blue Agave.
Amber is a rather dark yellow.
Amiable refers to a not excessively sweet wine.
Anejo simply meaning is 'aged'. Can be Tequila that has been matured in oak for at least 12 months or Wine that has been matured in wooden barrels for at least 3 years.
Angel's Share is a term mostly associated with the Whisky industry, this means the amount of spirit lost through evaporation whilst ageing in barrels or casks. Typically no more than 2.5% per year.
An Aperitif is a drink taken before lunch or dinner to stimulate the appetite. An appetiser.
Aromatic refers to a a wine whose main aroma is of the vineyard of origin.
A Barrick is a wine refined in barrels or barrique (a small wooden barrel with a general capacity of 225 litres).
The term Bitterish is used positively in the context of the after taste of a wine.
Bitters is a type of Liqueur or Aperitif that is used in small amounts to add depth and length to different cocktails.
Blanc de Blancs - as found on the label of some champagnes - indicates that the wine has been produced with white grapes only, frequently Chardonnay.
Blanc de Noirs refers to a wine that has been produced only with black grapes.
Botanicals are plants and herbs most commonly used in the production of Gin. Examples being Juniper, Angelica, Coriander, Orange Peel, Lemon Peel and Liquorice.
The term Bouquet refers to the effect that the aroma of an aged wine has on the senses.
The term Bourbon is associated mainly with American Whiskey. Bourbon must contain at least 51% corn and must be aged for at least 2 years in new, first-fill American oak barrels which are charred.
Brut Spumante is a dry taste, resulting from a sugar content of less than 15 grams per litre.
Caramel is sometimes added to dark spirits to ensure colour consistency. Most commonly used within the Rum and Scotch Whisky industries. Not added to Bourbon as this is illegal.
A cask is a barrel used in the maturation of spirits. Traditionally hand-made by a cooper and consisting of wooden staves and iron bands or rings. Most commonly made from oak.
Cask Strength is typically used when refering to whisky that has been bottled at the alcohol strength achieved in the barrel during the aging process. Usually between 45% and 65% abv.
Chill-filtration is a process that involves chilling Whisky to around 0 degrees Celsius and filtering out any congeners (see below) in order to improve the appearance of the liquid when at low temperatures.
Column Still, also referred to as a continuous still or Coffey still. Consisting of 2 columns, the first being the rectifier and the second being the analyser. Produces high strength, pure alcohol.
Congeners refers to chemical compounds produced during fermentation and maturation giving spirits their flavour.
Distillation is the separation of alcohol from water by heating it to it's boiling point. The vapours are then collected and allowed to condense back into a liquid.
The term Fortified Wine refers to wine that has had alcohol added to it whilst fermentation was taking place. This is in order to increase the alcohol content of the final product.
Grain Whisky is a whisky distilled from wheat or maize in a column still. Sometimes containing a limited anount of malt.
Gusano refers to the 'worm' found in some bottles of Mezcal or Vodka. Actually a moth larva that lives on the Agave plant. Never found in Tequila and perfectly safe to eat. Not an hallucinogen as sometimes thought.
Infusion - fruits or spices that have typically been steeped (see below) in a spirit in order to take on the maximum amount of flavour.
Malt, meaning malted barley.
Malting is the method of producing malt. Grains are repeatedly soaked in water and drained in order to start the germination process. They are then dried and crushed.
Overproof relates to a spirit, typically Rum that is bottled at over 50% abv.
A Plata is an unaged Tequila or Tequila that has been aged for less than 60 days. More commonly known as Silver, Blanco or White Tequila.
A Pot Still is the original type of copper still used to produce spirits. Less efficient than a column still but often produces bigger and more complex flavours.
Proof refers to the strength of the liquor referred to as a twice the percentage of pure alcohol contained in the liquid. E.g. 40% abv = 80 proof.
Reposado, meaning 'rested' and refers to Tequilas that have been matured in oak for at least 2 months but not longer than 12 months.
Rhum Agricole is a rum produced from fermented sugar cane juice rather than molasses.
A Rye Whiskey is a whiskey typically from North America made from at least 51% rye.
A Shot relates to a measure of an alcoholic spirit. Equalling 25ml or 1 ounce of liquid.
The term 'Single Cask' refers to a spirit bottled from a single cask.
A Single Malt whisky is made in single distillery from malted barley. Not blended with any other whisky.
Small Batch Bourbon refers to a Bourbon bottled from selected casks or sometimes a single cask.
The term Sour Mash means a portion of the previous day's mash that is added to the new mash in order to measure and maintain consistency.
Steeping refers to the process of soaking something in a liquid until it is saturated with the soluble ingredient.
Ugni Blanc is a grape variety that is most commonly used to make Cognac.
Vatted Malt refers to a blend of more than one single malt whisky. Different to a blended whisky as it never contains any grain whisky.
A Vermouth is a fortified wine that has had many different herbs and spices added to it in order to achieve a particular flavour.
VSOP is an acronym standing for 'Very Special Old Pale'. Meaning a Cognac or Armagnac of at least 4.5 years old.
XO - standing for 'Extra Old'. Referring to Cognac or Armagnac in which the youngest spirit is 6.5 years old.
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