Beginner’s guide to types of alcohol

By now, you’ve probably had your first sip of alcohol. But if your knowledge of liquor is pretty much zilch except that wine involves grapes, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we’ve put together a primer on different types of alcohol, as well as cocktails to try and food pairings to order.

Keep this cheat sheet handy so the next time you waltz down the alcohol aisle or find yourself at the bar, you know exactly what to get. Plus, all the alcohol we’re gonna cover is conveniently available on iShopChangi at duty-free prices. Read on for the full deets, and even some attractive limited-time promos to take advantage of.

– Liquor –

The term “spirits” refers to all types of hard liquor that’s distilled and not fermented. It includes things like gin, vodka, and tequila, and can be taken as a shot or shaken into delish cocktails.

1. Gin

The creation of gin involves distilling fermented grain and a variety of botanicals like juniper berries. The majority of gin is clear in colour but you’ll also find some with a tint due to infusions. These can include herbs and spices, such as cardamom and sweet licorice, beyond just fruits and botanicals.

types of alcoholImage credit: @hendricksgin via Instagram

Cocktail to try: You can’t go wrong with a classic gin like Hendrick’s or Roku, complete with tonic and a slice of lemon. For a sweeter drink, opt for a Negroni which is a concoction of gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari.

2. Whisky

Whisky, the potent potion that’s made of distilled grains like barley, rye, and wheat, has been around for centuries. FYI, whiskey with an ‘e’ refers to grain spirits distilled in Ireland and the United States. Meanwhile, whisky without an ‘e’ means it’s made in Scotland, Canada, and Japan.

Whiskey comes in distinct variations, including Blended whiskey – popularised by brands like Johnnie Walker and Dewar’s, and Single Malt – of which notable names include Glenfiddich and Macallan.

Keep in mind that not all whisky or whiskey varieties are ideal for cocktails, as you want something that is versatile and able to mesh well with the other ingredients in your concoction. Case in point: bourbon, Scotch, and rye whiskeys come together to form classics like the Mint Julep and Manhattan.

ishopchangiImage adapted from: @thebalvenie via Instagram

Cocktail to try: You can’t go wrong with a classic Whisky Sour. Don’t forget to ask for a frothy layer of egg white.

3. Vodka

Vodka is mild and neutral in flavour, which makes it easy to mix into different cocktails. The spirit can be made from potatoes as well as grains like barley, wheat, rye, and corn. While classics like Grey Goose and Absolut are always a safe bet, there are also creative flavours to explore – such as the Twenty Third Street Rose Vodka.

ishopchangiImage credit: iShopChangi 

Cocktail to try: Vodka soda clocks in the least calories. However, sugary cocktails like a Moscow Mule – a blend of vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice – might go down easier for the lightweights.

4. Rum

Rum is made entirely from sugarcane molasses or sugarcane juice – but it ain’t sweet. In fact, depending on the type of rum and where it comes from, you might get a smoky note, grassy flavour, or strong kick at the back of your throat after taking a sip. Premier choices include Diplomático and Bacardi, and fun fact: rum is also a lovely complement to dishes with tropical fruit flavours – think coconut, pineapple, or mango.

types of alcoholImage credit: @bacardi via Instagram 

Cocktail to try: A Daiquiri – comprising rum, lime juice, and syrup – at dinner or a rum and coke at the club. Either way, you should limit yourself to 3 rum drinks in a single sitting unless you want to wake up with a raging headache. The sugar content in the mixer that goes into your rum cocktail can cause a killer hangover the next day.

5. Brandy

Brandy is made from distilling any types of fermented fruit juice or fruit mash, hence its sweet notes. It’s also pretty strong and likely to be your grandfather’s favourite drink. Some common Brandy brands include Hennessy, Remy Martin, and Martell. However, these fall under Cognac – a type of Brandy that’s created specifically in the Cognac region in France.

types of alcoholImage credit: @martellofficial via Instagram 

Cocktail to try: None. Brandy is best savoured neat and at room temperature. That said, your fellow party animals might have added coke or even green tea in their brandy glass and sworn that it tasted heavenly.

6. Tequila

Tequila – think Don Julio and Jose Cuervo – is made from the blue agave plant and one of the main forms of fuel for party people. The plants only grow in a few states in Mexico, and the best way to savour tequila is by sipping on it – not throwing it back. Spice fiends should also note that tequila’s complex and robust flavours make it pair well with spicy foods, instead of getting drowned out by the heat.

ishopchangiImage credit: iShopChangi

Cocktail to try: Margarita – a mix of lime juice, tequila, and triple sec – is always a safe bet. But if you’re looking to get smashed and let your inner Michael Jackson shine on the dancefloor, shots with a lime wedge and some salt are the way to go.

– Wine –

Ordering wine at the restaurant shouldn’t be stressful. But sometimes, it can be, especially when you can’t tell the difference between dry and sweet wine or pronounce different types of wine like pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.

7. Red

Red wine is made from fermented red or black grape juice using grapes with skin on. If you are searching for a safe bet to order off the menu, consider Shiraz from Australia, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot from Bordeaux, or Pinot Noir from Burgundy.

types of alcohol

Food pairing: Generally speaking, red wines go well with red meat. Think steak, lamb, and veal, with a side of pasta to pad your stomach. Make sure to serve it up at slightly cooler than room temp, for the best experience.

8. White

White wine is made by fermenting grapes without skin and seeds. Within a saturated market of white wine, the velvety Chardonnay is sweeter and thought by many to be a classic. Meanwhile, Sauvignon Blanc is dryer and more tart, and has an acidic aftertaste.

types of alcoholImage credit: iShopChangi

Food pairing: Typically served chilled, the acidic content of white wine will complement fresh seafood like oysters, lobsters, and fish, as well as poultry dishes like chicken and turkey.

9. Rosé

Like red wine, rosé comes from fermenting red grape juice with skin on. Unlike red wine, the process of fermentation for rosé is shorter which explains the lighter colour and higher sugar and starch content.

types of alcoholImage credit: iShopChangi

Food pairing: The crisp and refreshing nature of rosé means it’ll pair perfectly with light appetisers or snacks. Think about ordering it the next time you tuck into a cheese and charcuterie board with cured meat and fatty liver pâté, or fresh salads with smoked salmon.

10. Sparkling

Sparkling wine is wine with bubbles suspended in it. This includes Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava – among others. If you’re looking to pick up a bottle, brands like Dom Pérignon, Moët & Chandon, and BOTTEGA are safe bets.

ishopchangiImage credit: Bottega Spa

Food pairing: Appetisers, salads, fatty cuts of meat with plenty of marbling, seafood, and desserts are all solid pairings. Or, have a glass of bubbly by itself. Honestly, sparkling wines are so versatile they’ll go with everything.

Stock up on all types of alcohol at duty-free prices

Look, liquor knowledge is power because at some point, you’d probably want to expand your alcohol preference beyond the usual vodka cranberry that you’ve been drinking since uni. 

This cheat sheet will come in handy on your next trip to the liquor store, too. Say, if you’re buying a bottle for a dinner party where steak is going to be served, then you know the red wine section is where you should be looking at.

If you’re in the mood to save some cash while picking up some quality alcohol, it might be a good idea to stock up your stash at iShopChangi. They carry a diverse assortment of drinks – both local and international – all at competitive prices, and you can rest assured that it’s all authentic and premium. Be it wine, whiskey, sake, and good ol’ beer – you want it, they got it. 


Travellers will be able to put in an order on the iShopChangi website up to 30 days in advance or up to 12 hours before the flight, and pick it up at the airport. But if you don’t have a flight on the horizon, you can still order tax-free alcohol and have it delivered to your doorsteps via a Singapore address, or pick it up at the Collection Centres across Changi Airport’s departure halls in every terminal.

For a souvenir to remind you of your overseas adventure, a thoughtful gift to bring back home, or just to explore something new and not available in SG, look no further than the iShopChangi travel-exclusive liquor range. A lot of these travel exclusives come in 1,000ml bottles, giving you more bang for your buck than the regular sized ones.

types of alcohol
Image credit: @the_macallanvia via Instagram

From now till 30th September 2023, you’ll get up to 30% off a slew of bevvies and bottles. Besides all the alcohol examples listed above, we’re talking Jura & Tamnavulin Scotch Whiskey, Patriarche wines, Twenty Third Street spirits, Courvoisier Cognac – the list goes on. You can even explore exotic baijiu from top Chinese distilleries like Moutai and Luzhou Laojiao.

This promo is part of the Lotte Duty Free 3rd Anniversary Sale, available on the iShopChangi website. To make the deal even sweeter, mark your calendar for their One-Day Mega Flash Sale in celebration of the Lotte 3rd Anniversary.

types of alcohol
Image credit: @liquorbaronsleederville via Instagram

On top of the anniversary sale prices of up to 30% off, you’ll get an additional 12% off on 19th August 2023 by using the code <LOTTE3BD> on selected products from Lotte Duty Free. There’s no minimum spend required, and the discount will be capped at a hefty $100.

You’ll probably want to hurry though. With discounts this good, stock might be running low soon. Just make sure you’re armed with liquor knowledge before browsing the shelves, or the online catalogue from the comfort of home.

Shop for duty-free alcohol at iShopChangi

This post was brought to you by iShopChangi.
Cover image adapted from: @23rdstreetdistillery & @wineeeriii via Instagram


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