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Learn more about the different types and their subtypes available across the globe.

The 6 Types of Base Still Spirits

There are many distilled spirits available today, though there are just six base liquors that form the foundation of the majority of cocktails and liqueurs. Brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, and whiskey are each unique and have distinct styles within themselves.


Gin is a dry spirit that is produced from grain and gets its flavor from juniper berries. Gin has a proof of about 80 and is clear in color. However, some varieties are yellowish in color due to aging in barrels. Gin is known as the 'drinker's drink' and is not very expensive. The different types of gin are the London Dry Gin, Plymouth Gin, Genever Gin, Old Tom Gin, and New American Gin.

Rum is supposed to be the favorite drink of pirates and navy sailors. They are known to drink a mixture of rum, lime juice, and sugar-water. It is made from the byproducts of sugarcane. Rum is mostly produced in the Caribbean and is distilled from sugar and oak barrels that are used for aging the liquor. The light rums are used in cocktails like daiquiri and are very popular. The dark rums are distilled using a slow process that develops it into a stronger and bolder flavor. You normally sip neat a dark rum. The types of rum are Light Rum, Gold Rum, Dark Rum, Spiced Rum, Flavored Rum, Overproof Rum, and Premium Rum.

The 'fire wine' has been a popular drink over many centuries that is distilled from mashed fruit like grapes. It is aged in oak casks that helps it get its rich color. It is a popular after dinner drink and it contains 80 proof. One of the most popular forms of brandy is cognac that is produced in a region of France that shares its name with the drink. Brandy is usually drank at room temperature or slightly warmed. It is graded according to its age and served in a snifter. The types of brandy are grape, fruit, and pomace brandies. They are further classified into grades. The grades of brandy are as follows:

  • X.O: This Extra Old, Napoleon, or Vielle Reserve is at least 6 years old and Napoleon is about 4 years old. This is one of the best liquors.

  • V.S.O.P: This stands for Very Special Old Pale or 5-star brandy. This brandy is aged for about 5 years in wood.

  • V.S: This is an abbreviation for Very Special or 3- Star brandy. It is aged in wood for 3 years.

  • A.C: This brandy is aged only for 2 years in wood.

This liquor is made from an agave plant in Mexico and is the main ingredient in Margaritas. Tequilas are generally 80 proof and is one of the most popular types of liquor. The type of tequila called Anejo is aged and sipped neat. The Anejo is taken as a shot as the aging takes the bite off. Tequila can be classified into two main groups, i.e., 100% Blue Agave and Tequila Mixto, which are further divided into numerous subtypes.

The clear, tasteless, and odorless liquor that is distilled from different grains, potatoes, and even molasses is called vodka. Vodka is the most popular drink of Russia, though it was originally produced in Poland. It is drunk neat in Europe, and in the US it is mixed with different cocktails. Vodka has a neutral flavor that is successfully mixed with different mixers. It also does not leave a lingering smell in the breath of the drinker. It is mostly 80 proof and can never go above 110 proof.

The drink first distilled by the monks in 1405, from grain mash and aged in oak barrels; whiskey is of many different types depending on the distillation process. Let us have a look at the different types under the whiskey group.

The most popular whiskey is the scotch whiskey from Scotland. It is distilled twice and aged in oak barrels for at least 3 years. It is a blend of malt and grain whiskeys. The best types of scotch are the single malt whiskeys. The Irish whiskey is another popular type. It is distilled three times and aged in wooden barrels for 3 years or longer. Irish whiskeys are distilled in single malt, blended, and single grain varieties. There are three categories of American whiskey. The Bourbon whiskey contains 51% corn, the corn whiskey contains at least 80% corn and the rye whiskey contains at least 51% rye. These whiskeys are aged in oak barrels and only for 6 months in case of corn whiskey.