Types Of Alcohol By Alcohol Content (ABV)

There are three different types of alcohol: methyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol, and ethyl alcohol.

There are three different types of alcohol: methanol (also called methyl alcohol), isopropanol (isopropyl alcohol), and ethanol (ethyl alcohol). Methanol and isopropanol are used for cleaning and manufacturing items. Ethanol is the only type of alcohol that humans can drink.

Alcoholic drinks are among the most popular drinks in the world. Different types of alcoholic drinks contain different amounts of alcohol.

All alcoholic beverages fall under one of two categories: undistilled drinks or distilled drinks.

Undistilled Drinks

Undistilled drinks are made through fermentation (a process where yeast transforms sugar into alcohol). They include:


Beer is made from grains such as barley, rye, oats, or wheat. It’s the most well-known alcoholic drink.

There are many different types of beer, including ale, lagers, and pilsners. All types likely contain between 4% and 8% ABV. However, some craft beers (beers made by small, independent breweries) have ABVs as high as 13%.


Wine is made from grapes. Most wine has an ABV between 11% and 16%. For example, red wine has about 13.5% ABV, white wine has about 12% ABV, and champagne (a popular type of sparkling wine) has about 12.5% ABV.

Some wines are mixed with distilled alcohol. These are called fortified wines. They contain more alcohol than unfortified wines, with ABVs ranging between 16% and 24%.

Other Undistilled Drinks

Other popular undistilled drinks include:

  • hard cider (fermented apple juice), which generally contains about 5% ABV
  • mead (a mix of fermented yeast, honey, and water), which likely contains between 10% and 14% ABV
  • saké (a mix of fermented rice, yeast, a fungus called koji, and water), which usually contains about 16% ABV

Distilled Drinks

Like undistilled drinks, distilled drinks are made through the fermentation process. However, they also go through a second process: distillation. That means the alcohol is separated from the water used to make the drink.

The distillation process increases the drink’s alcohol content. Thus, distilled drinks (which are also called liquors, hard liquors, or distilled spirits) have higher ABVs than undistilled drinks.

Distilled drinks often appear in mixed drinks. For example, martinis consist of the distilled drink gin along with an aromatized fortified wine called vermouth.

The most popular distilled drinks include:


Absinthe is a type of liquor made from leaves and herbs. It usually contains about 40% ABV. However, some forms of absinthe have up to 90% ABV.


Brandy is distilled wine. In general, its ABV ranges between 35% to 60%.

The two most popular types of brandy are Cognac, which has about 40% ABV, and Armagnac, which has between 46% and 48% ABV.


Everclear is a distilled drink made from grain. It usually has about 60% ABV. However, some brands of Everclear have 75.5% or 95% ABV.


Gin is a type of liquor made from juniper berries and other botanicals (such as flowers, herbs, and seeds). Its ABV typically ranges between 35% and 55%.


Liquors are distilled drinks mixed with fruit juices, sugar, cream, herbs, and spices. They’re often used to sweeten cocktails. Most liqueurs have about 15% ABV or less.


Rum is a type of liquor made from sugarcane juice or molasses. It generally has between 36% and 50% ABV, though some brands have 75.5% ABV.


Tequila is a type of liquor made from the blue agave plant, which is native to Mexico. It typically has between 40% and 51% ABV.


Vodka is a type of liquor made from cereal grains and potatoes. Its ABV ranges anywhere from 40% to 95%, depending on the brand.


Whiskey (also spelled whisky) is a type of liquor made from fermented grain. While most whiskey has between 30% and 50% ABV, some forms have much higher ABVs. For example, Tennessee whiskey can have up to 80% ABV, and Irish whiskey can have up to 94.8% ABV.

Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

Abusing any type of alcoholic beverage, no matter the ABV is dangerous. Alcohol abuse occurs when a woman has more than one drink in one day or a man has more than two drinks in one day. Over time, this behavior can lead to serious health problems, including alcohol addiction.

Alcohol addiction also called alcohol use disorder, is a disease that makes you feel unable to stop drinking alcohol. Other symptoms include:

  • frequent cravings for alcohol
  • tolerance (needing increasingly larger amounts of alcohol to feel the desired effects)
  • physical dependence (experiencing withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and sweating, when you don’t drink alcohol)

Alcohol Treatment

If you or someone you love shows signs of alcohol addiction, seek help at a substance abuse treatment program.

There, medical professionals will help you safely stop using alcohol. They can also help treat any underlying mental health concerns that contributed to your alcohol abuse, such as stress or depression.

To learn more about treatment for alcohol addiction, reach out to Northeast Addictions Treatment Center. We offer a variety of personalized, evidence-based services, such as mental health counseling, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare planning.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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This page does not provide medical advice.

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