Course 1

What Is Alcohol?

The Basics

As far as chemistry goes, alcohol is an organic compound made when the hydroxyl functional group bonds to a carbon. Alcohol is generally made by fermenting grain, fruits or vegetables (any kind of edible starch that can be converted into sugar). This fermentation process just needs a starchy or sugary ingredient that the yeast can act on. The most common of these starches or sugars are:

  1. grapes for producing wine and brandy
  2. grains like barley, wheat, corn and rye for producing beer, gins, whiskeys, vodka and other spirits

There are specialty spirits like tequila and mezcal that are made from specific plants — both of these are agave-based.