Liquor Trivia: Fun Trivia about Distilled Spirits

Liquor trivia is about distilled spirits. That’s whiskey, vodka, tequila, rum, gin, rye, bourbon Scotch, and other spirit liquors.

Discover liquor trivia about your favorite drinks. Then share the fun with your friends.

I. Beverages

  • It’s a myth that there’s a worm in tequila. The so-called worm is in  mezcal, which is distilled from a different plant. The “worm” is actually a butterfly caterpillar (Hipopta Agavis).9
  • Rye is distilled from corn, barley malt, and at least 51% rye. It  was the first uniquely American whiskey.10
  • Bourbon is the official distilled spirit of the United States.1
  • Distilled spirits don’t contain any cholesterol, carbohydrates, or fats of any kind.6
  • Sloe gin isn’t gin at all but a liqueur. It’s blackthorn bush berries (sloe berries) liqueur.12
  • Vodka is Russian for grain spirits that haven’t been flavored. It means “little water.”13
  • Cordials and liqueurs are the same thing. They’e both sweetened spirits with flavors of organic products such as fruits, flowers, or roots.15
  • About 25% of all alcohol that people consume around the world are vodka or contain vodka.16
  • Scotch whisky has a unique smoky flavor. Peat fires used to dry malted barley gives that distinctive character.19
           Grain Size
  • The size of the grain used to produce a whiskey largely determines its body or lightness. Larger grains make lighter whiskey and vice versa. Rye, which is small, makes a whiskey with full body. One made from corn, which is large, makes a lighter whiskey.23
  • People cleaned their hair with rum to maintain its health. They also applied brandy to their hair during the 1800s to strengthen its roots.31
  • Gin is a mild diuretic which helps the body get rid of excessive fluid. Thus, for example, it sometimes can reduce problems such as menstrual bloating. (This isn’t medical advice).42
  • A Baptist minister first made Bourbon in 1789 in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Bourbon took the name of the county, not vice versa.47
  • All treaty signings during the Middle Ages included drinking liqueurs.52  You wanted liquor trivia!
  • Early Colonial New England’s largest and most prosperous industry was producing rum.53
  • Gin is spirit alcohol with juniper berry flavor. The Dutch first made it. They named  junever, their word for juniper. The French changed it to genievre. In turn, the English changed it first to geneva” and then shortened it to gin.11

II. Drinks

  • A martini becomes a Gibson simply by adding a miniature onion to it.2 Mint Julep
  • The mint julep was at one time a popular everyday drink. It was the “Coca-Cola of its time.”22
  • A martini made with tequila instead of dry gin is a tequini.3
  • Winston Churchill’s mother created the Manhattan cocktail.2
  • The martini originally began as a sweet drink.21
  • The ingredients in a well-stocked bar can make 17,864,392,788 different cocktails. That’s according to H.L. Mencken, the famous journalist.20

III. Famous People & Liquor Trivia

  • A distiller commissioned Louis Pasteur to the process of fermentation. This led to enormous scientific advances.26
  • Martha Washington’s “happy hour” in the 1790s began at 3:00 p.m. Cocktails continued until dinner in the evening.27
  • “I like a little bourbon” reported former President Jimmy Carter’s mother. She was Christian. But she said she was not a ‘long-faced square.’37
  • William Shakespeare referred to a game called “flap-dragon.” Players grabbed raisins from a dish of burning brandy. Then extinguished them in their mouths before eating them.40
  • Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seus) was drinking gin with friends while a student at Dartmouth College. He received severe punishment. But many years later the college awarded him an honorary doctorate.43


  • President Lincoln learned that General Grant drank whiskey while “on the job” leading his troops. Lincoln  reportedly ordered “Find out the name of the brand so I can give it to my other generals.”28
  • Before he became president, Abraham Lincoln sold liquor. His 1833 liquor store license is displayed at the Oscar Getz Museum of Whiskey History.45
  • George Washington was his country’s first large distiller. In 1798, his distillery at Mount Vernon produced 11,000 gallons of whiskey.4
  • Paul Revere had two drinks of rum before taking his famous ride.59
  • George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all  made some of their own alcoholic beverages.56
  • The favorite cocktails of several former Presidents are include these.
    • Scotch and soda (Lyndon Johnson)
    • Rum and coke (Richard Nixon)
    • Gin and tonic (Gerald Ford)
    • Bourbon (Harry Truman)
    • Martini (Herbert Hoover)
    • Scotch or brandy (Franklin Roosevelt)44

IV. Words

          “Whiskey” is used to represent the letter “w” in the international aviation commaity.4

  • Methyphobia is fear of alcohol.32
  • Whiskey and whisky are both grain products. Whiskey is the usual American spelling, especially for beverages distilled in the U.S. and Ireland. Whisky is the spelling for Canadian and Scotch distilled beverages.7
  • The word brandy comes from brandewijn. It means burnt (or distilled) wine in Dutch.14
  • The term “brand name” came from American distillers. They branded their names and logos on kegs before shipping them.33
  • This is a short sentence containing all the letter of the English alphabet. “Pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs.”34  By the way, if you’ve read this far you must really like liquor trivia!
  • The letters in “whiskey” can spell “key wish.” Those in “spirits”can spell “sip it sir.” And those in “moonshine” can spell “in no homes.”41
  • The letters in ‘increase alcohol taxes’ can spell ‘Alert: Halt excess excise taxes on alcohol.’24

V. Laws & Taxes

  • Heavy taxes more than double the price of a typical bottle of whiskey, rum or other distilled spirits beverage. That encourages the production of dangerous bootleg alcohol.25
  • Moonshining is profitable because the taxes on legally produced spirits are so high. The federal government gets 14 times more in taxes on distilled spirits than producers earn making them. That does not include what states and localities additionally take in taxes on the same products.36
  • The word “liquor” is illegal on storefronts in some states in the U.S. This includes liquor stores!39
  • State law in Indiana prohibits liquor stores from selling cold soft drinks. Yet it’s legal for them to sell unrefrigerated soft drinks.46
  • It’s illegal to send a gift of any alcoholic beverage to anyone anywhere in Kentucky. The penalty can include imprisonment for up to five years.That includes a bottle of Bourbon!48
  • The taxation of whiskey caused the first test of federal power over states and individuals. It was the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.54
  • The laws of most American colonies required towns to license individuals to sell wine and spirits.  Failure to do so could result in a fine.55
  • The NY State Liquor Authority told Michael O’Neil  that he was in violation of the law. That was right after he opened O’Neil’s Saloon. It is illegal for him to use the word “saloon” on his saloon. He promptly complied with the law. To do so O’Neil simply changed the “S” into a “B,” making it O’Neil’s Baloon.50
  • White lightning is a name for illegally distilled spirits. Moonshiners skip the aging process to reduce risk of arrest. Thus, the color of the product remains clear.35

VI. Other Liquor Trivia

  • The strongest that any alcohol beverage can be is about 190 proof. That’s about 95% alcohol. At higher proof, the alcohol draws moisture from the air and self-dilutes.17
  • Whiskey, brandy or rum can either aged not enough or too long.18
  • The melody of “Star-Spangled Banner,” the national anthem of the US, is from a drinking song.30
  • Temperance supporters strongly opposed drinking alcohol. But they, like most others, regularly took patent medicines.  But that “medicine,” just like whiskey, generally contained 40% alcohol!38
  •  Distillation emerged during the Middle Ages. The alcohol produced was aqua vitae or “water of life.”51
  • Each member of the  American Colonial Army received a daily ration of four ounces of either rum or whiskey.57
  • The average US adult 15 or older drank 9 1/2 gallons of spirits per year during the 1830s. That included both men and women.58
            Clean Gin?
  • “Bathtub gin” was common during Prohibition (1920-1933). Bootleggers mixed alcohol, glycerine and juniper juice in bottles or jugs. It was hard to fill them in a sink. So people commonly filled them under a faucet in a bathtub. Hence, it was bathtub gin.60
  • The United States Pharmacopoeia lists alcohol as medicinal.61
  • The actual alcohol content of a standard can of beer, glass of dinner wine, or distilled spirit is virtually identical. A breathalyzer can’t tell them apart.5
  • When first made, distilled spirits are completely clear with no color. They get their colors and hues from the aging process in oak barrels.8     

VII. Trivial Note on Trivia

Trivia is the plural of the Latin trivium. More than one liquor trivium are liquor trivia. So, “A martini made with tequila instead of dry gin is a tequini”  is a liquor trivium. But this collection is liquor trivia. So, should it be “Liquor trivia is fun!”? Or should it be “Liquor trivia are fun!”?