Hard Drinks - Spirits
The distilled beverages are usually obtained after boiling fermented drinks. A process that brings the alcoholic content of these drinks easily above 20% of alcohol by volume. When we speak of distilled beverages or spirits we refer mostly to schnapps and liquors.
Distillation is based on the different melting points of water (100 ºC) and alcohol (78.3 °C). The aim is to separate both ingredients, and bring them together later to condese them again, getting a liquid with a higher alcohol component.
In addition to being obtained from fermented beverages, spirits generally use sweet nourishments (sugar cane, honey, fruits, ...) and other food that can be transformed into sugars.
Distilled beverages are generally described as schnapps or liquors. However, the term 'spirit drinks' also includes the majority of alcoholic beverages with 20% or more alcohol by volume. Those cover beverages with very different characteristics, ranging from the different types of brandy and liquor, to whisky, anise, tequila, rum, vodka and gin, among others.
It is wildly believed that the first destilled drink was developed in China around the year 800 BC, from rice wine. Later, the process was perfected in Egypt, around the year 300 AD. But the Arabs chemists where the ones who eventually developed the technology, by creating a effective alchemical still, the alembic. From there it was introduced to Europe, where it spread rapidly across the continent.