Matter & Energy


Matter is composed of atoms or groups of atoms called molecules. The arrangement of particles in a material depends on the physical state of the substance. In a solid, particles form a compact structure that resists flow. Particles in a liquid have more energy than those in a solid. They can flow past one another, but they remain close. Particles in a gas have the most energy. They move rapidly and are separated from one another by relatively large distances.

Distilled Liquors

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Distilled Liquors, any of various beverages of high alcohol content, produced by distillation, formerly called ardent spirits or aqua vitae. They may be made from other beverages of lower alcohol content, such as brandy from wine or applejack from hard cider, or from fermented mixtures originally containing large proportions of carbohydrates, such as rum from molasses or whiskey from grain mash. The earliest alcoholic beverages were products of simple fermentation that, at most, yielded about 12 percent alcohol.

The first recorded mention of distillation was made by Abul Kasim, a 10th-century Arabian physician. At first only wine was distilled, but soon afterward other fermented products were employed. The process of distillation not only concentrates the alcohol, but also removes from the beverage a large portion of the unpleasant-tasting impurities. If rectification (purification by repeated or by fractional distillation) is carried too far, however, all the flavoring elements are removed with the impurities, and pure alcohol is produced. Consequently, in the distillation of potable liquor, the process is only partly completed, and the remaining impurities are removed by filtration of the liquor through charcoal and by aging in charred wooden barrels. During aging, the impurities, which consist mostly of a mixture of higher alcohols, are in part oxidized to acids that react with the remaining alcohols to form pleasantly flavored esters. The flavoring material remaining in the finished beverage is less than one-half of 1 percent; the remainder consists of water, alcohol ranging from 80 proof (about 40 percent) for mild whiskies to 150 proof or more for strong brandies and rums. Many cordials and liqueurs are made by distilling mixtures of alcohol and flavoring agents.