Whiskey, gin, rum, tequila and vodka are just a few examples of refined alcoholic beverages that have come to be referred to as “spirits” over time. These drinks were thought to hold both the spirit or life force that gave them their power. These drinks also contain the essence of the plant or grain from which they were derived.

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alcoholic drinks, liquor spirits in drinking glasses

What is Liquor?

Liquor is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grains or fruits. It is typically consumed in small quantities. It has a higher alcohol content than beer or wine. Other terms for liquor include: spirit, distilled beverage, spirituous liquor or hard liquor.

copper equipment in a distillery for spirits

Why is Liquor called Spirits?

The term comes from the Latin word “spiritus,” which means “breath” or “soul.” In the early days of distilling, it was believed that the vapors produced during the distillation process were the essence, or spirit, of the original substance.


gin tonic citrus and herb cocktails

Liquor in Social Gatherings and Traditions

Liquor has played a significant role in social gatherings and traditions throughout history. It is often used to celebrate special occasions such as weddings and holidays. It is also a common gift to bring when visiting someone’s home.

When did alcohol start being called Spirits?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest record of the word “spirit” actually meant “a liquid” which doesn’t exactly narrow it down to liquor. Until the 16th century we find records of the word being meant to describe “an intoxicating alcoholic drink.”

Look up the terms describing your favorite liquor >