The art of alcohol distillation can be traced back at least to 3.500 b.C. Sources indicate that it was actively practiced by ancient Egyptians and in China. Through the years, it then spread to all Continents. Depending on the geographical location, distillers were naturally inclined to utilise the raw materials readily available in their territory. Presently, we can find a series of distillates all around the globe, the most important which are listed below.
An extremely well-known and appreciated distillate is Rhum, obtained from sugar-cane. It is produced throughout the tropical and Caribbean areas; in fact, it would be hard to think of a good glass of this distillate without accompanying it with a cigar or fine cocoa.
In Brazil, sugar-cane is also used to make Cachaça, a favourite distillate of the population.
Tequila is indissolubly linked with Mexico. Created with the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, this distillate is obtained exclusively from the juice of the blue agave, a plant with long pulpy leaves and an unmistakable colour.
Closely related to Tequila, Mezcal is obtained from 8 different varieties of agave and undergoes a “smoking” process that makes it significantly different. In many bottles it is possible to find the famous gusano, a small larva that lives in agave plants and which is put in the bottle.
Deriving from the Anglo-Saxon tradition, in the United States one can find grain and corn distillates. Corn, for example, is used to make Tennessee Whiskey, Bourbon and Corn Whiskey. There is also Rye Whiskey, made with rye.
Also Canadian Whiskies are mainly produced with rye. On the other side of the world one can find Sake, a traditional Japanese beverage. It must be pointed out that saki is not a distillate, but a fermented rice beverage. However, in the last few decades excellent whiskies have been produced in the Land of the Rising Sun.
A real rice distillate is Choum, widely used in China and Vietnam, or Sura of Sri Lanka.
In the steppes of Central Asia, where little grows on the ground, they distil milk for beverages such as Aiven.