Why is Alcohol Called Spirits? Main Reasons

A lot of people just call Alcohol spirits but don’t know the reason why it is called so. In this post, you’d get an extensive read of why alcohol is called spirits. Read more below.

Why is Alcohol Called Spirits?

The term “spirit” can refer to a variety of things. For example, the Holy Spirit or everyone’s favorite Disney horse. When it comes to drinking, however, spirit refers to a very specific intoxicant: liquor.

Spirit is defined as a “strong distilled liquor such as brandy, whiskey, gin, or rum” by the Oxford Dictionary. Merriam-Webster defines spirit as “a liquid containing ethyl alcohol and water that is distilled from an alcoholic liquid or mash frequently used in the plural.”

So, how did a word come to mean both holy and completely intoxicating? It’s complicated, as are many things in the world of alcohol, and there are many competing stories.

Why Alcohol is Called Spirits

The term “spirit” can refer to a variety of things. For example, the Holy Spirit or everyone’s favorite Disney horse. When it comes to drinking, however, spirit refers to a very specific intoxicant: liquor.

Spirit is defined as a “strong distilled liquor such as brandy, whiskey, gin, or rum” by the Oxford Dictionary, while Merriam-Webster defines it as “the liquid containing ethyl alcohol and water that is distilled from an alcoholic liquid or mash — often used in plural.”

So, how did a word come to mean both holy and completely intoxicating? It’s complicated, as are many things in the world of alcohol, and there are many competing stories. The first is from the ancient world, dating back to the fourth century B.C.

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1. Aristotle Felt Possessed by Spirits

The term “spirits” for alcohol is attributed to Aristotle in the “BarSmarts Advanced” handbook by David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, and Paul Pacult.

Aristotle wrote about this process in 327 B.C., but we have no proof that his fellow Greeks distilled spirits in any significant volume,” according to the handbook.

“However, he was the one who gave the product of distillation the name spirit.’ He believed that drinking distilled beer or wine introduced spirits into the drinker’s body.” However, this explanation is suspect.

If Aristotle was referring to spirits in the way we do, he would have used the Greek word “pneuma,” which means “breath,” “spirit,” or “soul.”

Pneuma is most commonly translated as “spirit” in the New Testament. However, alcohol distillation was not common in ancient Greece.

2. The Bible Says it too

The Holy Spirit is represented by five images in the New Testament: a dove, tongues, fire, wind, and water.

According to Michael Foley in OnePeterFive, a Catholic publication, “first Pentecost bystanders mistook the effects of the Holy Spirit on the disciples as intoxication from too much new wine” in Acts 2:13. In other words, the Holy Spirit is intoxicating, albeit without the hangover.

The connection between the Holy Spirit and the intoxicating spirit is an obvious one here. However, it is not explicitly stated, so it is open to interpretation. This brings us to the third explanation, which takes us back to the beginning of distillation.

3. Liquor is the Spirit of Alcohol

Middle Eastern alchemists were the first to master distillation. They weren’t just looking for gold, either. They were also attempting to create medicinal elixirs. To accomplish this, they would distill liquid, and collect the vapor. They also collect the “spirit” that came off the material.

According to Dane Huckelbridge’s book “Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit. A Franciscan monk named Roman Llull was one of the first to use distillation purely for alcohol.

Huckelbridge writes, “In his journals, he is the first to pen specific formulas for ‘loosening’ the alcohol from wine (for scientific purposes, of course).”

Liquor is base alcohol that has had the water physically removed through the distillation process, increasing the alcohol concentration through evaporation.

The alcohol is then condensed. In other words, the spirit of the liquor is leaving the lower alcohol base liquid and returning in a purer form to be consumed. So we’re drinking fermented liquid spirit.

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The word “spirit” has Latin origins. “Spiritus” is Latin for “breath,” and it refers to both respiration and wind. It also has a connection to the Latin word “spirare,” which means “to breathe.” Eventually, the term came to refer to a person’s personality or disposition.

CSN Team.

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