How long since we invented a new way to murder our livers?
September 8, 2012 11:35 PM   Subscribe

What is the youngest major liquor?

I've been wondering about the major liquors -- gin, rum, brandy, vodka, tequila & whiskey -- and when they were invented. What is the youngest of those? How can we invent a new liquor that's never been realized before? Maybe that's too many questions in one, so I'll stick with the original. How long has it been since the human race created an entirely new alcohol?
posted by ktoad to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Tequila is by far the youngest of those you list. Distillation spread through Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries; tequila is a new world product, first attested to in the 16th century.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:01 AM on September 9, 2012

According to Wikipedia soba shouchu, i.e. spirit distilled from buckwheat, was first made (at least commercially) in 1973. Here's a review.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:01 AM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

The "major liquors" should be what you in a bar rail, in range from light to dark. They are: vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, bourbon and scotch. And sometimes triple sec.

Of those triple sec is the youngest, invented in the mid 19th century.
posted by phaedon at 2:04 AM on September 9, 2012

1000 Baited Hooks may have it, though I am not familiar with that particular poison. I would disagree with triple sec, as long as we are maintaining the distinction between liquor and liqueur. If soba shouchu is not mainstream enough, absinthe is a possible candidate as youngest distilled offering...
posted by Urban Hermit at 3:17 AM on September 9, 2012

The major liquors are only "major" because we say they are; they happen to be things our culture just happens to drink a lot of.

Whether it's "major" or not is entirely a matter of culture. For example, Americans drink an awful lot of gin, which is based on juniper, and not much soju or sake, which are distilled rice. We also skip most of the Schnapps, which are made from fruit, or There's no particular reason for that at this point, except "it's culture." For that matter, we drink one sugarcane-based drink (rum) instead of another (cachaca) because... reasons.

We invent a new liquor every time we distill something we haven't gotten around to distilling before, basically. Because alcohol's been pretty popular for a long time, most cultures have a very long history of distilling the living heck out of every crop they've got on hand. I think Urban Hermit's got it right - Most recent one I can find is soba souchu, and if you don't count that, absinthe seems to be a good candidate for "Most recently invented liquor with some level of mainstream American awareness."
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:58 AM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Potato vodka can't be that old, either, as potatoes are a New World crop and were not widely consumed in Europe until the eighteenth century. Which would make it about the same age as absinthe.
posted by Sara C. at 7:34 AM on September 9, 2012

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