Glossary of Liquor Terms

Blended Whiskey

A combination of various whiskeys or of whiskey and light spirits (grain alcohol).

Bottled In Bond

A straight whiskey (unblended) at least four years old and 100 proof.

Bourbon Whiskey

Made from not less than 51% corn grain, distilled to 80-160 proof, stored in new charred oak barrels for at least two years.


Distilled grape wine, usually 80 proof.

Canadian Whiskey

Although considered a rye whiskey, Canadian is primarily made from corn with lesser amounts of rye, wheat and barley malt. It is a blended whiskey at least two years old. If less than four years old, the label must so state.


Brandy from the Cognac region of France.

Column Still

The most common apparatus for distilling. It is a tall cylinder containing numerous baffle plates. Heated mash is pumped to the top and allowed to splash down through the baffles. Steam introduced at the bottom rises through the baffles, converting the mash to vapor which rises out the top to be cooled and condensed as whiskey.


Grain mash distilled through juniper berries and herbs.

Irish Whiskey

Distilled entirely from Irish barley, half sprouted, half not.

Light Spirits

A high proof whiskey, 161-189 proof, higher than straight whiskey, lower than neutral grain spirits. Aged in uncharred new oak containers.


Barley which has been allowed to sprout.

Pot Still

A large kettle with a spiraling top pipe. When the pot is heated beneath, vapors rise into the spiral, condense and run off as new whiskey.


A distillate of sugar cane, cane syrup, cane molasses, at least 80 proof.

Rye Whiskey

The fermented mash contains at least 51% rye grain.

Scotch Whisky

Usually a blend of malt and grain whiskeys. Note: Scotch Whisky, not Whiskey.

Sour Mash

Some of a previous day’s fermented mash is added to the fresh when a new vat is started.

Tennessee Whiskey

Produced like Bourbon, with an extra step-seeping through a vat of charcoal.


The distilled juice of the mezcal variety of the agave plant. A white liquid, 80-86 proof.


A flavorless spirit distilled at high proof from grain mash and drained through charcoal to eliminate taste and color.


A spirit, aged in wood, obtained from the fermented mash of grain.