Spirits 101 is a weekly feature from Wausau Pilot & Review and Timekeeper Distillery. Each Friday afternoon, Dan Weber joins us for a journey through spirits and cocktails, and a deeper dive into the craft industry as a whole. If you have questions or ideas for future topics, be sure to leave them in the comments below the YouTube video. Watch the video and read Dan’s explanation for a better understanding of the craft spirits you enjoy. Cheers!

Spirits 101: Light vs. Dark

By Dan Weber for Wausau Pilot & Review

This week I wanted to touch base on a simple but big difference in spirits. Why are some clear and some tan-amber in color? 

Traditionally, most of your white or clear spirits have not been aged in a barrel. Examples of this would be Vodkas, Gins, Moonshine, and Grappas. The exception to this is your silver Tequilas or Rums. These have been aged in used barrels for a few years and filtered with carbon to strip any of the color from the product.

On the other side; most of your dark spirits have color to them because they have been aged in barrels and have extracted the color from the wood or char of the barrel. Examples of these products would be Whiskeys, Brandys, Rums and some varieties of Tequila. These spirits will range in color from a light tan or straw color to a deep auburn. The color of the spirit will vary based on how long the product has aged and the intensity of the char of the barrel.

Distillers have the option to have their barrels lightly toasted or have them heavily charred – and anywhere in between. The color can also be affected by how long it was sitting in the barrel. The longer the spirit sits the more exposure it has to extract those colors out. This has been a quick overview of Light vs. Dark.

Join us next week for spirits 101!