What is the different between Grain Neutral Spirits, Unaged Whiskey, and Vodka
Seriously, they are all made from fermented grain, that is later distilled. I suppose the mash bill makes some difference. But I imagine most grain neutral spirit in the USA is made from corn, so heck it is just unaged whiskey...
JMF or others?
I have to be brief because I have to run to work.
Here are the legal definitions:
(For neutral spirits add the item term that is is made from after the word neutral.)
Neutral Spirits/alcohol: Spirits distilled from any material at
or above 95% alcohol by volume
(190 proof), and if bottled, bottled at
not less than 40% alcohol by volume
Vodka, a sub-section of neutral spirits/alcohol:Neutral spirits distilled or treated
after distillation with charcoal or
other materials so as to be without
distinctive character, aroma, taste
Whiskey: Spirits distilled from a fermented
mash of grain at less than 95%
alcohol by volume (190 proof) having
the taste, aroma and characteristics
generally attributed to whisky and
bottled at not less than 40% alcohol
by volume (80 proof)
In addition, to earn the name whiskey, it has to be stored in a wood container. Charred and new, used, or uncharred, for a period of time over one second, and up to many years. There is no legal definition or classification for unaged whiskey in the US.
Technically, neutral spirits and vodka have no flavor, or at least almost no flavor.
Whiskey, while distilled at a high proof, has both flavor, and compounds in it that helps create, develop, and extract additional flavors when in contact with wood. Neutral spirits and vodka will do the same, but to a lesser degree because they are distilled at such a high proof that they contain much less of the compounds.
Oh, the correct term is Neutral Grain Spirits/Alcohol (NGS). Or Neutral XXX Spirits/Alcohol if made from some other ingredient.
Just to confuse things of course, a local microdistiller is selling an unfiltered voda that expresses some of the flavor of the locally grown grain from which it is made. How that is any different from say an unaged whiskey I won't hazard a guess.