Alcoholic drinks the good, the bad or the ugly?


The term hard liquor refers to an alcoholic beverage that is produced through the distillation (careful boiling and condensation) of grains, fruit, or vegetables that have already been fermented (converting sugars- like glucose and fructose- into cellular energy, which creates ethanol i.e. alcohol as a byproduct).

The distillation process purifies the liquid and removes water from it, which has the effect of increasing the proportion of alcohol content in it. Since the new beverages have a significantly higher percentage of alcohol by volume [ ABV], they are thought of as being “harder” than un-distilled beverages.

Beer, wine, cider, and sake [Japanese rice wine] also go through the fermentation process, but they are not distilled, giving them a relatively low alcohol by volume content of 15 percent or less. A drink like Brandy, on the other hand, is produced by the distillation of wine, which gives it a 35 percent alcohol content.

The History of Distilling:

Distillation is the action of purifying a liquid by a process of heating and cooling and thereby force water out of it. This happens after fermentation. The fermentation does happen as per procedure. When a wild yeast finds some rotting fruit, it then ferments the sugars in it into alcohol.

Categories of Alcoholic drinks:

An alcoholic drink is a drink that contains ethanol, commonly known as alcohol. Normally, alcoholic drinks are divided into three general classes:


Beer is one of the oldest and most widely consumed alcoholic drinks in the world, and the third most popular drink overall after water and tea. Beer is brewed from cereal grains—most commonly from malted barley, though wheat, maize (corn), and rice are also used. Malt is germinated cereal grains that have been dried in a process known as “malting”. The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then halted from germinating further by drying with hot air.

Liquor is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruits or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process purifies the liquid and removes diluting components like water, for the purpose of increasing its proportion of alcohol content.

During the brewing process, fermentation of the starch sugars in the wort produces ethanol and carbonation in the resulting beer. Most modern beer is brewed with hops[the flowers of the hop plant], which add bitterness and other flavors and act as a natural preservative and stabilizing agent. Other flavoring agents such as herbs, or fruits may be included or used instead of hops. Wort is the liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer or whisky. Wort contains the sugars, the most important being maltose and maltotriose, that will be fermented by the brewing yeast to produce alcohol.


Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented grapes. Yeast consumes the sugar in the grapes and converts it to ethanol, carbon dioxide, and heat. Different varieties of grapes and strains of yeasts produce different styles of wine.

Distilled beverages:

Liquor is an alcoholic drink produced by distillation of grains, fruit, or vegetables that have already gone through alcoholic fermentation. The distillation process purifies the liquid and removes diluting components like water, for the purpose of increasing the proportion of alcohol content.

The so-called drunken monkey hypothesis proposes that human attraction to ethanol [alcohol] may derive from the dependence of our primate ancestors of Homo sapiens on ripe and fermenting fruit as a dominant food source. Ethanol naturally occurs in ripe and overripe fruits when yeasts ferment sugars, and consequently early primates (and many other fruit-eating animals) have evolved a genetically based behavioral attraction to alcohol. May be that is the reason why we imbibe pleasure by indulging in it as day follows night.

In most of the countries, alcoholic drinks are legally allowed and consumed. And more than one hundred countries have laws regulating their manufacturing, sale, and consumption en masse. Needless to add that, such laws specify the minimum age at which a person may legally buy or drink them. This minimum age varies between 16 and 25 years, depending upon the country and the type of drink. Most Nations set it at 18 years of age.

In Canada, 19 years of age in BC, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, PEI, Saskatchewan, and Yukon. It is 18 years of age in Alberta,] Manitoba, and Quebec.

In Canada, government is also selling liquor from her owned outlets. Liquor stores, agencies and other retail outlets sold $22.5 billion worth of alcoholic beverages during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017, up 2.3% from the previous year.

The total volume of alcohol sold in Canada in 2016/2017 went up 0.1%, to 3,074 million liters. The net income realized by provincial and territorial liquor authorities increased by 7.0% to $6.5 billion in 2016/2017. All liquor authorities reported positive net income in 2016/2017 However 7 out of 13 jurisdictions reported lower net income compared with the previous fiscal year. Net income and other government revenue derived from the control and sale of alcoholic beverages, including excise taxes, retail sales taxes, specific taxes on alcohol, and licence and permit revenues, was $11.9 billion in 2016/2017, an increase of 3.9% over the previous fiscal year.

Different types of alcoholic drinks are:


Barley, water, hops and yeast are the four ingredients that are required for making beer. The sugar from the barley are extracted and is converted to alcohol by the yeast. Other grains like maize, rice, rye and wheat are also used in making beer as an alternative.

The Canadian love affair with hops and barley continues, but more and more drinkers are now opting for the grape. Beer remained the alcoholic drink of choice for Canadians, with $9.1 billion in sales and accounting for 40.6% of total sales of alcoholic beverages in 2016/2017. However, the market share of other alcoholic beverages, notably wine, continued to grow.


Whiskey is type of distilled alcoholic beverage, generally made from fermented grain mash including barley, corn, rye, and wheat. The distinctive taste of the drink is achieved after it is fermented in charred white oak wood. The aging process of whiskey stops once it is bottled from the casks. Up to 40% of alcohol is present in whiskey.

There are various types of whiskey like Bourbon whiskey, Single Malt, Tennessee Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Cask Strength Whiskey, and many more. It has around 40―53.3% ABV.


Vodka is traditionally made from potatoes or fermented cereal grains. Some brands also make it from other substances like fruit or sugar. One of the most used and loved alcoholic drink, vodka is either consumed neat or as cocktails like Martini, Bloody Mary and Cosmopolitan.

Vodka is a made by distilling fermented grains or potatoes, although some modern brands use other substances such as wheat, rye, corn, fruits, or sugar. It contains purified ethanol and water which, at times, goes through various stages of distillation. Vodka has around 35―50% ABV.


An after-dinner drink, brandy is derived from the Dutch word, brandewijn; which means “burnt wine”. It is produced by distilling wine and contains around 35―60% ABV. There are three types of brandy available all around the world―grape brandy, fruit brandy, and pomace brandy.

Although brandy can be made from any fruit but in order to achieve higher acidity it is traditionally made from early grapes. Generally, an after-dinner drink, brandy contains 35-60% alcohol. Unlike whiskey, brandy is aged either in wooden barrels or through caramel coloring.


Technically a type of brandy but cognac deserves a special mention because this particular drink can only be made if certain requirements are met. It is made using special Agni Blanc grapes, must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and is normally aged at least two years in French oak style barrels.


Rum is produced from sugarcane juice through the fermentation and distillation process, or by molasses. The wonderful flavor of rum comes after aging it in oak barrels. The storage time is as long as 30 years (sometimes even more). The ABV of rum is somewhere between 40―55%.

One of the most loved alcoholic drinks, rum is actually made by using the by- products of sugarcane , for example-molasses or sugarcane juice directly and is then distilled. The liquid is then aged in barrels.


Similar to vodka, gin gets its name from Juniper berries. It is made from juniper, citrus peel, cinnamon, almond citrus peel, cinnamon, almond, coriander, or liquorice, with neutral grain alcohol. The ABV of gin is around 37―40%. Unlike other spirits, gin is meant to be combined with mixers and juices; it is never intended to be served as is.


Wine can be categorized into 5 fundamental groups―red, white, rosé, sparkling, and fortified. Within each group, there are hundreds of different grape varieties and winemaking styles.

Wine is produced after the fermentation process of grape juice is complete. The process takes a month or even years to complete. Depending on the particular wine, the aging process can vary. It is said that the longer the aging process, the better it tastes. To make wine, grapes are crushed with various kinds of yeast. This yeast is the main ingredient which produces alcohol after converting the sugars in grapes. Most wines are below 9% ABV to above 16% AVB.


Spirits isn’t a specific name for any drinks or something. It is simply a term used to describe unsweetened and distilled alcohol. To produce any type of spirit, the use of fermented substance is accepted which later goes to the distillation process. This method makes spirits strong and potent. All spirits or hard liquor contain a high amount of alcohol, which is anywhere from 20% to 65% ABV.

The distilled spirits such as brandy, gin, rum, tequila, etc., have 0% carbohydrates, fats, and cholesterol? Also, all spirits, except for beer and wine, are technically clear and colorless to begin with. The golden-brown hue and other rich colors come from the aging process.


The use of a plant, blue agave (found in a town in Mexico) is important to make tequila. However, due to a change in a Mexican law, tequilas don’t necessarily need to be made with only distilled blue agave. There are different types of tequila available which do have 100% agave. The various colors of tequila are obtained due to aging process, method, and time duration. It has 40―50% ABV.


Infused with roots, barks, flowers, seeds, herbs, spices and fortified by adding brandy, vermouth is actually an aromatized wine. Generally, it is of two types – sweet and dry. This drink is famous as an ingredient in Martini.

Which drink is one of the best:

First of all, wise people know that it is not the drink but the quantity you drink that matters. However, some alcoholic drinks are better than others. Red wine appears to be particularly beneficial because it is very high in high concentration of healthy antioxidants, being derived from chlorophyll laden colored grapes. Plus, red wine is linked to more health benefits than any other alcoholic beverage.

It will not be out of place to mention that consuming high amounts of red wine does not provide greater health benefits. Heavy drinking causes health problems — regardless of the type of beverage.

How much is too much?

Alcohol intake recommendations are usually based on the number of standard drinks taken per day. The problem is, most people have no idea what qualifies as a “standard drink.” To confuse matters, the official definition of a standard drink differs between countries to countries.

As per National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, USA, one standard drink is any drink that contains 0.6 fluid ounces (14 grams) of pure alcohol (ethanol).

Moderate drinking is defined as one standard drink per day for women and two for men, while heavy drinking is defined as more than three drinks per day for women and four for men.

Drinking patterns are always important. Binge drinking is not advisable and is a form of alcohol abuse and can cause harm to health.

Hard Truths about Hard Liquor

Each spirit is its own world of taste, history, culture, science, ABV and personal experience. But for a lot of people, the line between elegant enjoyment and a crippling drinking problem is very thin; and what can be an enlightening, rewarding hobby quickly becomes a addicting dependence on alcohol and by being drunk, sometimes our health, finances and relationships are adversely affected.

Chronic Alcoholism:

Those with chronic alcoholism can receive inpatient treatment; those who get help early might qualify for outpatient services; and there are combinations of both, specifically designed to address the behavioral and psychological causes and effects of the drinking problem. Clients might receive medication to lower their physical dependence on alcohol and deal with the side effects of weaning off alcohol, as well as counseling and therapy to address the mental health fallout of the addiction.

Once formal treatment has completed, aftercare support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and other sober programs can show clients how they can apply the fundamentals of treatment in everyday, real-life living.


At the end of the day, the effects of alcohol range from a positive impact on your wellbeing to a health disaster. Drinking small amounts — especially of red wine — and with supportive food is linked to various health benefits, as per experts, though there are views on the contrary.

On the other hand, alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are linked to severe negative effects on both physical and mental health. If you enjoy alcohol within limits and don’t binge, there is no compelling reason to avoid it.

Apart from drinks, there are many different ways to enjoy the finer things in life without raising a toast. Treatment and rehabilitation help individuals find a healthier and productive path to claim as their own.

However, if you tend to drink excessively or notice that alcohol causes problems in your life, you should avoid it as much as possible. Because alcohol impact depends entirely on the individual it’s good for some and terrible for others.

The smart thing is, “watch the type of drink, the quantity, your capacity, accompanying food and to cap it all the time and

live life king size


Prof. Surinder Kochhar (Shaun)
LPN, FCN, M.Com, CAIIB, DIM A freelance writer with 36 Years Exp. A Health Coach of University of Victoria


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