From where and how did our favourite alcohols get their name has been quite a debate.
Where an alcohol actually gets its name from or how different alcohols get their name or
why is it called a particular name you might have wondered.
Coming to think about it, I was once thinking if I make alcohol with similar
proportions like tequila, can I make tequila? Unfortunately, the answer is NO!
You must be thinking what exactly is the problem, if I know the proportions why can’t I
make it. You can make it for sure but can you call it tequila. Absolutely, not.
Without further ado, let me tell you why and how different alcohols got their name!
There is something called geographical indication (GI), it is for specific products which
correspond to their geographical location or origin. It indicates that a product is a
member of a particular territory or a region or a locality.
As a definition GI stands for: “Indications which identify a good as originating in the
territory of a member, in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or
characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin.”
The GI tag strictly means that no one other than authorised users is
allowed to use the popular product name.
So, to take a quick example scotch has to produced in Scotland or other areas registered
legally to use the name.
So let’s take the most popular drinks and their geographical indication (GI) –
It is a distilled alcoholic drink made from the blue agave plant which is
primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila (Mexico). The distinction is that
Tequila must use only blue agave plants rather than any type of agave. That is made
from exactly that region. Agave grows differently depending on the region, Tequila
needs red volcanic soil which grows in the region around the city of Tequila.
Talking about the region of Mexico, Tequila is served neat but the rest of the world takes
it as a shot with salt and lime.
So by law, you cannot just make the drink in other region and call it Tequila. It has to
be the blue agave plant from that region to be called so.
Feni is called feni when this alcoholic drink is exclusively produced in Goa.
Primarily, there are two types of feni; cashew feni and toddy palm feni. It is totally to do
with the original ingredient. Feni is classified as a ‘country liquor’, and is not at all
allowed to be sold outside the state of Goa.
Even if you get the best cashews and learn how to make feni, you, unfortunately, cannot
call in Feni.
Scotch is just like any other whisky but made in Scotland. However,
scotch whisky must be made in a manner legally defined. It was originally made from
malted barley. All Scotch whisky must be aged in oak barrels for at least three years.
Scotch whisky is divided into five distinct categories: single malt Scotch whisky, single
grain Scotch whisky, blended malt Scotch whisky, blended grain Scotch whisky, and
blended Scotch whisky.
Whisky is scotch only when it comes from Scotland.
Champagne is a sparkling wine. Legally only that sparkling wine which
comes from the Champagne region of France. Champagne is an alcoholic drink which is
produced particularly produced from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France.
Many people use the term Champagne as a generic term for any kind of sparkling wine.
There is a legal connotation that comes with it, you cannot label any product
Champagne unless it both comes from the Champagne region and is most definitely
produced under the rules of the appellation.
There is an “Interprofessional Committee of Champagne Wines”, which has a clear set of
comprehensive rules and regulations for all wines that this region develops.
So, you cannot just simply call any sparkling wine Champagne.
Cognac is a variety of brandy named after the town of Cognac, which is in
France. Cognac as a brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot and aged at least two
years in French oak barrels.
Cognac also matures exactly like whiskey and wine in barrels. Cognacs spend longer in
the barrel than the minimum legal requirement.
So just making it anywhere you cannot call it Cognac.
More so, there are several other drinks like Nashik Valley Wine, Napa Valley, Pisco,
Porto, Douro, Prosecco also have a geographical indication (GI) and need to be
made in that specific area. These and many other drinks which have a GI, a sign must
identify a product as originating in a given place.
These alcoholic drinks have quality as their base so the original geographical place of
production becomes very important.