WHILE beer reigns supreme in the Australian pub culture, the origins of different types of alcohol can be quite interesting and make for good small talk.
Dutch traders double-distilled French wine and placed them in oak barrels shipped back to the Netherlands to keep their merchandise from spoiling. Inadvertently, the ship’s voyage became the maturation process to turn French wine into brandewijn or ‘burnt wine’, which resulted in a more complex flavor profile that’s definitely an acquired taste.
Like with most liquors, gin was originally concocted to battle malaria. As with the other spirits that came before it, people realised gin was even better as a leisurely tipple. Gin is distilled from juniper berries and is most famous for its marriage with tonic and a slice of lemon. Gin and tonic used to be an upper-class (and at times, boring) cocktail, but today, it’s become more popular due to the infusion of botanicals, spices, and herbs to give the traditional G&T a modern twist. Pink gin has recently become quite popular.
Short for rumbullion, rum was also called ‘kill-devil’, suggesting that people drank it to fight their demons. It’s typically distilled from molasses, sugarcane syrup, or sugarcane juice and is aged in oak barrels or various wine casks to add color and flavor. British sailors would often be rationed with rum during their voyages – which is probably why pillaging pirates loved the stuff, too.
From the Gaelic term uisge beatha meaning ‘water of life’, whiskey was originally used as a medicine, limited to apothecaries and monasteries in Ireland and Scotland. (Despite modern medicine, some may argue that whisky still heals other pains, too.) Whiskey is commonly made from a literal mishmash of barley, rye, corn, or wheat distilled into alcohol and aged in wooden barrels.