There is nothing better than meeting up with your friends and sitting down with a good drink after a long hard work week. However, you may find yourself wondering whether all drinks have the same alcohol content. If you are curious about vodka alcohol content vs. whiskey, gin, and more, you have come to the right place.
Do All Drinks Have the Same Alcohol Content?
Short answer, no. Long answer, alcohol content and percentage vary a lot depending on your drink of choice. Alcohol by volume, or ABV, is the percentage of alcohol per volume of liquid, and this changes depending on the beverage you choose. Understanding ABV is vital to making informed decisions about your alcohol intake.
ABV by Drink Type
The three main categories of alcoholic beverages include wine, liquor, and beer. These are then split into multiple subcategories that all have varying alcohol percentages as well. You can find the ABV of your drink on its label, but we have compiled a list to give you a general idea of alcohol percentages.
- Beer 4-8%
- Unfortified wine 14-16%
- Vodka 40-95%
- Gin 36-50%
- Tequila 50-51%
- Liqueur 15%
- Whiskey 36-50%
- Hard Seltzer 4-12%
When it comes to alcohol percentages, beers, kombucha, and light-hard seltzers generally have lower alcohol percentages. On the other hand, vodka, tequilas, rum, and whiskeys tend to have a much higher alcohol percentage.
Vodka Alcohol Content vs. Whiskey and Gin
When we are looking at the difference in whiskey, gin, and vodka alcohol content, we first need to understand how these alcohols are different and how to read their labels. While vodka, whiskey, and gin are all popular alcohol choices, they each have unique properties and characteristics that separate them. These properties include ingredients, distillation techniques, flavor profiles, aging processes, and more.
Alcohol Percentage and Proof
The first step to understanding the ABV of beverages and your vodka alcohol content is to know how to read and understand the label of your drink. This label will express two numbers: the alcohol by volume (ABV) and the alcohol proof.
ABV is the percentage of milliliters of alcohol per hundred milliliters of liquid at 20 degrees Celsius. The alcohol proof on the bottle is double the percentage of alcohol in a beverage. For example, absolute alcohol is 100% ABV which is 200 proof and highly toxic.
If you are interested in learning how to calculate ABV yourself, we’ve got the formula for you. The formula is ABV = OG-FG*131.25.
OG stands for the original gravity, while FG stands for the final gravity. The original gravity of your beverage is the gravity of the liqueur before fermentation. The final gravity of your beverage is the gravity of the liqueur after the fermentation process.
Difference Between Vodka and Gin
When looking at vodka and gin, you need to know that they are made with very different ingredients. Gin starts its journey by infusing juniper berries into vodka or grain alcohol that has been distilled no less than three times. This distillation allows ethanol to pull the scent and flavor from the juniper berries. Gin generally contains 36-50% ABV, typically resting at about 37.5% ABV.
Vodka is created through the fermentation and then distillation of potatoes, molasses, wheat, corn, or rye. This distillation must happen at least twice; however, there are a number of different types of stills that can be used to create various flavor profiles. These flavor profiles can even include garlic and milk proteins. Vodka can have an alcohol percentage between 40-95%. However, many vodkas typically contain 40% ABV.
Difference Between Gin and Whiskey
In order for a liquor to be labeled as gin, it must be made up of at least 70% juniper berries and other botanicals. The second-largest percentage in a bottle of gin can contain spices, citrus, or flowers. Overall, the juniper berry flavor dominates in a bottle of gin.
On the flip side, whiskey includes any liquor that has been distilled from fermented grain mashes. This grain mash can consist of malted and unmalted barley and corn or rye. Whiskeys are aged in oak barrels before they are removed, colored, and flavored. The process is long but is what gives whiskey the rich amber colors and smooth tastes they are known for.
Differences in Whiskey
Quality whiskey must be aged at least four years, though some brands will age their whiskey for up to 30 or 40 years. American law requires that whiskeys be made of at least 51% corn. The other ingredients are varied but can include rye, barley, or wheat. Whiskey varies in alcohol content, sweetness, flavor, texture, aging process, and more.
Whiskeys can be aged in new or used barrels but are often distilled in column stills. The column stills allow for greater control through a process called fractional distillation.
Bourbon whiskey was created by a Baptist minister in the 1700s in Bourbon County, Kentucky. Bourbon whiskey must be at least 51% corn but is typically 55-65% corn and is commonly referred to as “Kentucky Whiskey.” Bourbon is generally aged 2-5 years before it is ready for consumption and has a flavor profile that can be very sweet.
Rye whiskey got its name after the province of Ryegate, where it was produced in the 1600s by British soldiers. Rye whiskey is comprised of at least 51% rye, after which it will be modified with malted barley and other flavors. Rye whiskeys typically have a spicier flavor profile with hints of fruitiness, toffees, and vanilla. These whiskeys are also aged longer at 3-6 years.
Difference Between Vodka and Whiskey
Vodka and whiskey sit at opposite ends of the spirits spectrum in multiple ways. Whiskey is always aged, with no expectations. Vodka is not. Vodka is a clear liquid and tends to be less complex. Whiskeys tend towards amber color and a multi-layered flavor profile.
Vodka is the queen of mixed drinks and is often consumed in shots. Vodka can come in its original flavor or be infused with anything from watermelon to bison grass, peach, citron, and everything in between. Whiskey is most often sipped neat, served on the rocks, or with a splash of water. Whiskey is less versatile in cocktails; however, this amber liquid features in a number of signature cocktails that really highlight the spirit.
Which Is Higher?
Okay, great, now we know how vodka, whiskey, and gin are different, and we understand how to locate the ABV and alcohol proof on their labels. So which one has the highest alcohol percentage? It changes depending on your drink.
Vodka alcohol content has the opportunity to be the highest, with a range between 40 and 95%. Gin and whiskey have a very similar range, with their alcohol content floating between 36 and 50%. However, many vodkas sit at roughly 40% ABV. So if you are wondering where your drink stacks up regarding its alcohol percentage, check the label and remember that serving sizes vary.
ABV is the worldwide standard when you are measuring alcohol content for beverages. In the United States, one standard drink is any drink that contains 0.6 fl oz of pure alcohol. This means that serving sizes change according to the alcohol content of your beverage. For example, if you are drinking a 95% ABV vodka, your serving size is much smaller than a serving of a 36% ABV gin.
Look at it like this. If you have one shot of vodka at 80 proof, this means you are getting 1.5 fl oz at 40% ABV or 0.6 oz of pure ethanol. If you have one shot of vodka at 190 proof, this means you are going to get 1.5 fl oz at 95% ABV or 1.425 oz of pure ethanol. Check the alcohol percentage on your bottle before you start drinking to ensure that you stay safe.
Does Vodka, Gin, or Whiskey Hit Faster?
The truth is, alcohol is alcohol, and regardless of your drink, it will hit the same. The difference tends to be how you drink it. Whiskey tends to be drunk neat, which means it is highly concentrated. However, people typically sip their whiskey, meaning it takes a lot longer to get a lot of it in your system.
On the other hand, if you start with vodka, you tend to get a lot of alcohol very quickly, regardless of how much it is mixed with other drinks. The key to drinking safely is making sure that you know the ABV content of your alcohol and ensuring that you drink responsibly.
No matter what your drink of choice is, make sure that it is skillfully crafted and smooth on your palate. Remember to drink responsibly and never drink and drive. If you love expertly designed spirits and fantastic food, come visit us at Townsend Stillhouse and Grill, where our restaurant and bar are always fully stocked.