Liquor vs Liqueur — What’s the Difference?

If you’re anything like us here at Greek Lightning, you love exploring the wide world of cocktails and spirits — and if you’ve spent any time in that world, you’ve probably come across the terms “liquor” and “liqueur.”

Although they sound and look very similar, liquor and liqueur are two entirely different things. In today’s post, the experts behind our delectable Greek Lightning honey liqueur explain what makes it liqueur instead of liquor. Read on to learn more, and contact us to find out where you can find a bottle of Greek Lightning near you!

What is Liquor?

Liquor — pronounced “LICK-er” — is a synonym for “hard alcohol” or “spirit.” It’s a catch-all term for any alcoholic beverage that has been distilled: i.e., gone through a process of controlled heating/evaporating and cooling/condensing to create a stronger, more refined form of alcohol.

How is liquor made? First, an alcoholic mash or liquid is made by fermenting base ingredients like grains, fruits, molasses, or other plants. This first step is similar to how beer and wine are made. Then, this concoction will be put into a still, where the alcohol is extracted (through repeated evaporation and condensation) until it reaches a high concentration. The distilled spirit may then be distilled again, aged in a specific type of barrel, have additional flavors added, or watered down to reach appropriate “bottle strength.”

Technically, liquors should not have any added sugar, although some (especially rums) will have small amounts of extra sugar added in order to bring out their natural sweetness. Each class of liquor is governed by its own regulations on how much additional flavor or sugar can be added.

Some types of liquor you are probably familiar with include:

  • Vodka — distilled from grains like rye or wheat
  • Gin — distilled from grains and juniper berries
  • Tequila — distilled from the blue agave plant
  • Brandy — distilled from wine and fruits
  • Whiskey — distilled from fermented grains like barley and rye
  • Rum — distilled from sugarcane or molasses

Most liquor is at least 20% alcohol by volume (ABV).

What is Liqueur?

Liqueur — pronounced “lick-KEEWR” — is actually made from liquor. In the simplest terms, liqueurs are liquors that have had extra sugar or flavors infused after the distillation process is complete. This can be a bit confusing, since some base liquors also have trace amounts of sugar or flavoring added. As more sweet liquor drinks grow in popularity (hello, cupcake flavored vodka!), the line between flavored liquor drinks and true liqueur blurs.

So how can you tell the difference? Typically, liqueurs have a lower alcohol content than liquors because of the dilution from extra sweeteners and flavors. They also usually have a slightly “syrupy” consistency, thicker and more viscous than liquor. The most important distinction is that a spirit can’t be called a “liqueur” unless it delivers extra sugar and flavor from infusions with oils, extracts, and other tasty ingredients.

There are all kinds of flavor varieties in liqueur, from sweet and creamy to rich and fruity. The flavor possibilities are as endless as the ingredients you can use to infuse.

Many sweet liqueurs taste delicious on their own, but they can also be used in a variety of cocktails. Check out our elixirs page to find tasty honey liqueur cocktail recipes that you can try tonight!

What is Greek Lightning Honey Liqueur?

At Greek Lightning, each bottle of our honey flavored liqueur goes through quite the journey before landing in your hands. Curious to know how we craft every velvety drop?

With its divinely delectable taste, it’s not hard to imagine a divine origin story: lightning bolts raining down from Mount Olympus, bottles of Greek Lightning erupting into existence from charred craters — a delicious gift from the gods themselves.

However, we worked hard to craft our honey liqueur, so we’re going to go ahead and take credit. Sorry, Zeus! It all begins at the legendary Callicounis Distillery in Kalamata, which has been producing the world’s best liqueurs for more than a century and a half. After being distilled from organic grapes, it’s infused with honey from the orange blossom trees in Sparta’s Taygetos Mountains. Finally, it’s blended with a secret mixture of natural flavors and aromatics like cinnamon bark, clove, and nutmeg.

We never add artificial flavor enhancers or preservatives, so you can be confident that every luxurious sip is 100% all-natural Greek deliciousness.

Are you ready to try it for yourself? Contact us to learn more about where you can find a bottle of Greek Lightning honey liqueur near you. It’s strong enough to shoot on its own, sweet enough to savor and sip on, and versatile enough to add warmth and spice to a variety of cocktails, so what are you waiting for? Taste the nectar of the gods and find your bottle today.