Think about it, what a unique way it is to express your patriotism with a clink of a glass! It sounds like a beautiful puzzle, doesn’t it? Well, don’t be surprised or alarmed, because we’re talking about that deep, age-old connection between countries, the people, and their national alcoholic drinks! Yep, you heard it right. Whether you are an alcohol enthusiast or you are a curious person who generally likes to explore everything under the sun (we mean almost), this is surely going to get you all revved up. Believe it or not, there are many countries in the world which have dedicated national alcoholic drinks!
Let’s open the Pandora’s box of all distilled alcoholic beverages and find out a fact or two of these great nations and their much-celebrated drinks!
It’s T for Tequila for Mexico
Tequila is made from the plant blue agave and only tequila which is made from 100% blue agave can be labelled so. Majority of the times what we mostly find is ‘mixto tequila’, which usually has no less than 51% agave, along with neutral spirit made from sugarcane.
Here are two really interesting facts about Tequila for you, that-
-There is a town called Tequila!
-Tequila is a volcano!
-Mexicans don’t do Tequila shots!
Yep and yep, believe it! Tequila is a town in Mexico’s western state of Jalisco; there is actually a volcano by the same name as Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico. And, this may be surprising for the uninformed ones but, as the world gulps down the fiery tequila shots, the Mexicans like to take small sips of tequila straight-up!
The older the tequila, the better and mellower it tastes, however, it may not have the aging caliber like Scotch. Based on age, Tequila has five categories-
Blanco- Blanco is unaged tequila which is not even two months old in steel or oak barrels;
Reposado- This type of tequila spends roughly between two months to one year in the barrels;
Añejo- This tequila spends anywhere between one year to three years in the barrels;
Extra Añejo- This tequila is aged more than three years.
Then there is another variety based on age, known as Joven, which is unaged as it usually spends between two months to one year in the barrels and has an acquired golden colour. It is usually Blanco mixed with Reposado or Añejo.
Lote Fuenteseca Extra Añejo aged 18 years, is the known, oldest tequila in the world.
It’s Pisco for Peru and Chile
The Peruvians and Chileans are smitten with Pisco, a brandy which is made by distillation and fermentation of grapes. The colour of this drink usually varies from clear to amber, depending upon the ingredients and the process of distillation.
In Peru, the first Saturday of every February is celebrated as National Pisco Sour Day, and the fourth Sunday of every July is celebrated as National Pisco day! Whereas, Chileans celebrate their love for Pisco by celebrating the 15th of May as Pisco Day.
Schnapps-y Austria and Germany
Even though Germans have a special bond with beer, Schnapps also holds a very special place in their hearts. For Germans and Austrians, their national alcoholic beverage is Schnapps. It is a distilled alcoholic beverage which may come in the form of distilled fruit brandy, herbal flavoured liqueurs, infusions and flavoured liqueurs which
are made by adding fruit syrups, spices, or artificial flavorings to neutral grain spirits.
Schnapps is a clear beverage, and can also be made from grains, nuts, roots, vegetables, and flowers.
It is distilled once for to attain about 40 percent alcohol and twice for about 80 percent alcohol content For Austrians and Germans, schnapps is a generic term for fruit brandy and is usually served as a digestif.
Certainly, this ain’t a drink for the faint-hearted!
Beloved Cachaça of Brazil
Say cheers to Cachaça, the most popular alcoholic beverage in Brazil. It is made by the distillation process of fermented sugarcane. It should not be confused with rum, which is made molasses which is a byproduct of sugarcane.
Cachaça has two varieties, based on how it is stored before it is bottled and labelled. The young cachaça is stored in stainless steel containers is called ‘branca’ (white), or ‘tradicional’ (traditional) or ‘prata’ (silver).
The second variety is aged cachaça, ‘Amarela’ or yellow cachaça which is stored or aged in wood, which causes a substantial change in its colour.
Some of the popular names for Cachaça are ‘abre-coração’ which means heart-opener, ‘água-benta’ which means holy water, ‘bafo-de- tigre’ or tiger breath, and ‘limpa-olho’ meaning eye-wash.
Cachaça has been made since the 1500s, and it remains a national pride for the Brazilians. So much so, that September 13th is celebrated as the National Cachaça day.
Grappa from Italy
Ah, the Italians and their love for food and drinks! What whisky is to Scots, likewise Grappa is to Italians. The national drink of Italy is a fragrant brandy made by distillation of grape pomace from the winemaking process. Grape pomace consists of grape seeds, pulp, skin, and stalk.
Mostly grappa is clear, which indicates that it is an unaged distillate. However, some grappa may retain very faint stains from the original fruit pomace.
Young grappa is served chilled, usually around 9-13°C, while the aged grappa should be served at slightly below room temperature, roughly around 15-17°C.
This potent firewater is quite an elixir to Italians!
Meet Raki from Turkey
The Turks love Raki which is their national drink. It is an unsweetened drink made from twice distilled and fermented grapes and aniseed. It is traditionally consumed with chilled water and with this dilution it gets the milky-white colour.
Raki also popularly known as ‘aslan sütü’ or ‘lion’s milk’. ‘Aslan’ is a Turkish metaphor for a strong and a courageous man, this quite interestingly makes it ‘milk for the strong’. Or, rather a ‘drink for the strong’ we’d say!
Some Scotch for the Scots
The Scottish love for whisky is not a secret, the much-noted love has been there for generations or perhaps, times immemorial! The famous Scotch whisky is malt or malt grain whisky aged in oak barrels for a minimum period of three years. The original Scotch whisky was made from malted barley and it is divided into five categories, namely- single malt Scotch, single grain Scotch, blended malt Scotch, blended grain Scotch and blended Scotch.
Come May and the entire month is reserved to celebrate the love for whisky, the month is famously known as ‘Whisky Month’ and they have many whisky-based events and festivals to celebrate. Mark your calendars and pack your bags ladies and gentleman. The Scottish Gaelic name for whisky is ‘Beatha’ which translates to the ‘water of life’!
Boy oh boy, can you blame them for being so famously in love with Whisky!? Scotch whisky tastes so fine, they love it and so do people around the world!
From the many barrels across the world to clinking glasses, here’s a light-headed thought for you- like many other factors, people across the globe seem to be united with their love for alcohol, wouldn’t you agree? Turn on the ‘guzzle mode’, mark your calendars, pack your bags, and off you go to explore and celebrate the wonderful world
with the clink of a glass. And cheers to that!