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Know the Difference between Brandy, Cognac, Whisky and Bourbon

Brandy_Cognac_Whisky_Bourbon |

Having a glass of brandy, cognac, whisky and/or bourbon in a bar, a family dinner or any social gathering is a common sight for us all.

However, if some of them were to be asked what particular drink they were having, there would be feather-drop (we don’t do pin-drop no more) silence.

So what is the big deal about all these spirit drinks and their names? What is whisky, cognac and brandy? What makes them different from each other? And why would you prefer one to the other?

Definitions of Brandy, Cognac & Whisky


The name ‘brandy’ comes from the Dutch “branwijn”, which means “burnt wine.” Brandy is an spirit beverage distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice.

Typically distilled from wine, brandy is aged in old casks for a period of up to 2-3 years to achieve and alcohol volume of 40%. However, while some brandy are aged in wooden casks, others have caramel put into it to give it its brown colour, and some are still aged even after adding caramel.


Whisky is a spirit distilled from fermented grain mash. The main grain varieties used are in the production of whisky include wheat, rye, barley, and corn.The liquor is aged in wooden barrels after distillation. Whiskey is made all over the world with the most popular being Scotland, Ireland, Canada, & America.


Bourbon is whisky distilled in the United States of America. Its name comes from Bourbon County, Kentucky, from where it originated.  Also aged in oak barrels, it is free from any artificial colouring or additives.


Cognac is French brandy which is made from special grapes that are grown in the specified region of Cognac (from where it gets its name) in France. It is distilled in pot stills and must be at least 40% proof. It has to meet certain legal requirements in production methods known as Appellation d’origine contrôlée.

Difference Between Brandy and Cognac

The very first thing to note about both alcoholic beverages is that all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.

The most pioneering difference between both of them is that brandy is distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice while cognac is a French brandy which is made from special grapes grown in Cognac.

Cognacs are usually expensive as they are higher quality brandy distilled from special grapes while brandy are usually on the cheap side and may not be produced by some brand or trademark alcohol maker. The price of brandy is in line with how long it has been aged for. Cognac are expensive because of the distillation and aging process that follows its production.

Due to its high quality, cognac is considered a much more premium spirit than brandy, which in most cases are not exceptional.

Aside from fermented wine, brandy can also be made from apples, pears and other sweet fruits. Cognac, on the other hand, is the brand name for spirits made from Ugni Blanc grapes that are grown in the Cognac region of France. To bear the name Cognac, it meets certain legal requirements with respect to production methods. Brandy can be made in any country of the world, whereas cognac must be made in France alone, and MUST come from the French Cognac region.

There is no particular aging period for brandy as it can be aged from one year to three or even more, depending on the production house. Cognacs are aged at least two years in French oak barrels and it can be aged up to twenty five years too.

Difference between Whisky and Bourbon

Whisky is made all over the world with the more popular countries being Scotland, Ireland, Canada and America. Bourbon, on the other hand is whisky made only in the US, with most coming from the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. Tennessee Whiskeys, however, don’t use the name Bourbon on their label.

Whisky is made from different grain mash which includes barley, rye, wheat while bourbon makes use of 51% of corn grains in its production.

Bourbon is also stored in new charred-oak barrels, whereas whisky barrels, although they must be oak, do not necessarily need to be new or charred.

To be called bourbon, the liquor needs to be distilled to no more than 160 proof and entered into the barrel at 125. For other whiskies, the liquid must be distilled to no more than 190 proof.

One underlining fact is that even though other whiskies may adhere to the same recipe and distillation guidelines, they cannot qualify as bourbon once made outside the USA.

Tennessee Whiskey

Whereas most whisky produced in America arecalled bourbon, whiskey made in Tennessee categorizes itself as different from bourbon.

The legal requirements for whiskey to be called Tennessee Whiskey are that the whiskey should be:

  • distilled in Tennessee
  • made from at least 51% corn
  • filtered through maple charcoal, and
  • aged in new, charred oak barrels.

Jack Daniel’s, one of the largest whiskey producers in the world is referred to as a Tennessee whiskey as it follows the above processes. The company were highly instrumental in getting the state legislature to create such stringent requirements for labeling Tennessee Whiskey.

However, UK-based Diageo, which is one of the major producers of whiskey in the state and owns Tennessee’s No. 2 whiskey distiller George Dickel, oppose these criteria and are lobbying to have them loosened.










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10 Things You Need to Know About Rum

10 Things You Need to Know About Rum |

Things to Know About Rum

“There’s naught, no doubt, so much the spirit calms as rum and true religion.” – Lord Byron

Rum is a timeless, unique alcoholic beverage with a rich history and to appreciate while you drink, it’s only right that you get to know a little more about it.

Rum – fermented and distilled from sugarcane by-products or sugarcane juice, then commonly aged in oak barrels – is mainly produced in the Caribbean and Latin America but also in South Africa, India, Scotland, United States and many other countries. It is an impressively diverse spirit ranging from light and dry to dark and rich, thus, still embraced by a curious cocktail culture today. The origin and nature of rum is well-known and easy to access on the internet, so we will delve into these lesser-known facts instead.

They have no classification system

Unlike cognac and bourbon, rum is not regulated by any sort of strict definitive classification system. With rum, individual countries have their own standards. This means that any spirit starting with some form of sugarcane can be referred to as rum. Consequently, rums can range from clear and gin-like to dark molasses-heavy brews.

Rums are categorised by colour

If you absolutely need to differentiate between rums, it’s important to note that they are commonly categorised by colour. These are the light or white rums, gold or amber rums, dark rums and black rums. Light rums are the mildest. They are sweet and generally have little flavour. Gold and amber rums have spent more time in some sort of barrel than the light rums and have a stronger taste. Dark rums have been barrel or cask-caged for even longer and taste a little like whisky while black rums are as rich as Guinness.

Rums have specific terms for identification

Similar to when identifying French wine labels, rum can be identified by specific terms. Rums identified as “rhum industriel” are those which were made from sugarcane by-products while the ones identified as “rhum agricole” are seasonal rums made from the juice of fresh sugarcane.

That your rum is sweet isn’t necessarily a bad thing

Rum is sweet or dry depending on three factors: the duration of its aging process, the type of barrel it aged in and the form of sugarcane used. The degree of dryness with rums in general is significantly diverse. Common dry rums like Brugal Extra Dry are no better than sweet rums like the vanilla-scented Old Monk 7 Year from India. They were just made differently.

Rum is your best bet against a hangover

Even in Barbados, the birthplace of rum where it’s been distilled since 1703, people fear rum-induced hangovers so much that most resort to vodka. In reality, all light-coloured spirits including vodka, gin or filtered rum is your best bet for pain prevention. You aren’t more prone to a hangover with rum, and besides, a glass of water and banana before bed won’t hurt.


Rum has medicinal properties

Rum was especially useful for armies at war until a couple of decades ago. The British Army for instance, gave rations of rum it called “tot o’ rum” to its sailors because a mixture of rum and wine kept the risk of scurvy at bay. It was the added dash of lime to the mix that actually prevented scurvy.

Rum owes a great deal to advancements in air-conditioning and tourism

The latter half of the 20th century saw the development of modern-day air-conditioning, and this made it possible for large numbers of people to migrate to warmer regions in the world where rum remained the dominant spirit. Naturally, the massive increase in tourists in such regions led to a rise in rum’s popularity.

Rum was at the core of the slavery triangle

From the late 16th to the early 19th century, rum was at the epicentre of the slavery triangle. The first leg of the triangle had to do with the shipment of molasses to New England from the Caribbean to produce rum. After this, came the shipment of rum to West Africa to trade for slaves and the last leg of the triangle involved the passage of slave ships to the sugar plantations of the Caribbean and South America where slaves were put to work in the sugarcane fields.

The most expensive rum is nameless

The most expensive rum in the world doesn’t have a specific name but makes up for that in price. This rum was bottled in the 1940s by the Jamaican distillers Wray and Nephew, and contains blends that experts say date as far back as 1915. The bottle has been displayed at Europe’s first Rum Festival (RumFest) and there are only four such bottles remaining in the world! These bottles are valued at a whopping $40,000 each.

Admiral Nelson was preserved in rum

The infamous Admiral Nelson who died in 1805 at the Battle of Trafalgar is said to have had his body preserved in a cask of rum before finally being laid to rest. As a result of this incident, rum was referred to as “Nelson’s blood” for a while. It is not known for sure whether the cask was full or mostly empty.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bourbon

Bourbon |

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bourbon

Bourbon is a very popular spirit, known around the globe for its great quality and taste. Although Bourbon is really popular, there are some facts about that we’re sure you’ve never heard of. Here are amazing Bourbon facts below.


1. The name Bourbon is originally derived from the House of Bourbon.

They were French royalty who first came to power in the 16th century and eventually ruled over France, Sicily, Spain, Luxembourg, Parma, and Naples.

2. By law, straight bourbon must be aged in barrels for at least two years. Bourbon need only be placed in a new oak container for a few seconds to be called bourbon.

3. It doesn’t have to be made in Kentucky.

Although 95% comes from the Bluegrass State, Kentuckians don’t have an exclusive claim. It can be made in other states, but bourbon does need to be made in the United States.

4. By official government mandate, these rules must be thumb-tacked to the corkboard of every distillery:

Bourbon must be made from at least 51% corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, begin barrel-aging at no more than 125 proof, and be bottled between 80 and 160 proof.

5. It makes a good medicine.

During World War II, many distilleries were converted to produce penicillin, which is also a product of fermentation that will cure what ails you.

6. There are more barrels of bourbon (4.7m) in kentucky than people (4.3m).

7. Bourbon is the only product in the world which you cannot legally add colour or additives to.

Only water, wheat, corn, rye, malt and the colourisation of the barrel are allowed to influence the consistency of the golden beverage.

8. US law states bourbon barrels can only be used once.

This is why many are later shipped to whisky distilleries across the world.

9. Bourbon is America’s only native spirit.

As declared by Congress in 1964. It must be made with a minimum of 51 percent corn, aged in charred new oak barrels, stored at no more than 125 proof and bottled no less than 80 proof.

10. Bourbon is responsible for the drinking straw


Until the late 1880s, cocktails were sipped through a hollow stalk of ryegrass, often leaving an unpleasant residue as it deteriorated. One fateful day, however, Washington, DC, resident Marvin Stone was sucking down his freshly made Mint Julep and contending with the faulty piece of grass when it occurred to him that even paper would do a better job. He began by tightly wrapping several strips of paper around a pencil, then he removed the pencil and glued the papers into a sturdy cylindrical shape. Stone’s ingenious tool immediately caught on with drinkers around the country, and in 1888, the inventor patented a version made of paraffin-coated manila.

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The Difference Between Whiskey, Bourbon, Scotch and Rye

Bourbon Scotch Rye |

Whiskeys come in three main different forms , Bourbon, Scotch and Rye. While there are basic similarities, each has characteristics and manufacturing practices that make them unique. This article will help you understand  what makes each unique, and the next time you’re at a bar, you’ll be well equipped to order (and enjoy) the tasty spirit you really want.

What is whiskey?

Whisky is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. This mash is typically aged in wooden casks, which is what gives it that distinct brown colour and taste. Popular whiskey brands include Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels and The Macallan.

Whiskey (sometimes spelled as Whisky)

Whisky is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. This mash is typically aged in wooden casks, which is what gives it that distinct brown colour and taste. Popular whiskey brands include Johnnie Walker, Jack Daniels and The Macallan.

The terms whiskey and whisky come about primarily from geographic differences. In the United States and Ireland, grain alcohols are referred to as whiskey, while in Canada and Scotland, they call it whisky.


Bourbon, whose name comes from an area known as “Old Bourbon” in Kentucky, is a whiskey that’s distilled from corn. For a whiskey to be considered bourbon, the grain mash must be at least 51 percent corn. On top of that, by law the mixture must be stored in charred oak containers and cannot contain any additives. Finally Bourbon has no minimum aging period, but to call your product Straight Bourbon it must be aged for no less than two years (and can have no added coloring, flavor or other spirits added). Blended bourbon is permitted to contain coloring, flavoring and other spirits, as long as 51% of the mix is straight bourbon. The age on the bottle of blended bourbon must be the age of the youngest whiskey in the mix.

Bourbon tastes like: something sweet and smoky.


Technically, Scotch is whisky (spelled without the “e”) made from mostly malted barley and aged in oak barrels for three years or more, (The number following the name on a bottle of Scotch tells you how long it was aged.) Scotch must have an ABV at less than 94.8%. Finally, you cannot call your drink Scotch unless it was made 100% in Scotland, from Scotland.

Scotch tastes like: Rubber, wood, fire, dirt, and leather.


Rye is a grass in the wheat tribe and closely related to barley. “Rye whiskey“ can refer either to American whiskey, which must be distilled from at least 51% rye and aged two years or more, or Canadian whisky, which may or may not actually include any rye in its production process.  The only rule to label your whisky as Rye in Canada is for it to have some rye in it, and to possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whiskey. In America, Rye whiskey must be made from a mash made from no less than 51% rye. The other ingredients commonly used include corn and barley. Same as Bourbon it must be aged in charred new oak barrels distilled to an ABV less than 80% (and like bourbon it must be no more than 62.5% when added to the cask). Again, as Bourbon, only Rye which has been aged more than two years may be referred to as Straight. There is only one Rye producer in the world (Alberta Premium, from Canada) which is made from 100% rye mash.

Rye tastes like: A spicy, grainy, hard-edged version of bourbon.




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Ice cream + Booze = Perfect Weekend!

Ice Cream |

booze ice cream

Ice cream + Booze = Perfect Weekend!

There’s something really exciting about taking childhood treats and switching them up. The delicate balance of innocence and cheekiness—of creaminess and booziness—in spirit-drenched ice cream hits a real sweet spot on a sweltering afternoon. What better thing to try this weekend than these recipes for ice cream filled with booze?



Ice cream:

  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp bourbon


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup mixed berries (blackberries, blueberries and/or strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice


To make the ice cream, blend together the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, heavy cream, milk, vanilla extract and  salt until combined using an immersion blender, handheld mixer or regular blender. Chill the base for at least two  hours. Stir in the bourbon, and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions until you reach your desired  consistency. Spread the churned ice cream into a freezer-safe container, and freeze it for at least 4 hours before  serving.

To make the berries, melt the butter in saucepan over low-medium heat, and add the sugar. Stir in the berries and  bourbon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries soften and the mixture thickens. Add the lemon juice and cook  for 1 more minute. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool. It will thicken as it cools. Refrigerate until  you’re ready to serve the ice cream.



booze ice cream

Ice cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 1/3–1/2 cup chopped candied ginger (optional)

Chocolate sauce:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract


To make the ice cream, heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until it simmers. Add the ginger and remove from heat.  Let the ginger steep for at least 10 minutes. Strain out the ginger, and let the cream cool to room temperature. Blend  together the ginger-infused cream, cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, milk, vanilla extract and salt until combined  using an immersion blender, handheld mixer or regular blender.

Chill the base for at least two hours. Stir in the rum, and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions until you reach your desired consistency. (If you’re using the candied ginger, add it in the last minute of churning.) Spread the churned ice cream into a freezer-safe container, and freeze it for at least 4 hours before serving.

To make the chocolate sauce, heat the cream with the light brown sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves and the cream just starts to bubble. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Add the rum and vanilla extract, and whisk until combined. Serve over ice cream. Store leftover chocolate sauce in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Make sure you have fun trying these recipes out. You can tweet us showing us your recipes or tag us on Instagram!

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