As I understand it

  • Ferment grains and you get beer. Distill that beer and you get whiskey.
  • Ferment grapes and you get wine. Distill that wine and you get brandy.
  • Ferment sugar you get ???. Distill that and you get rum.
  • Ferment honey and you get mead. Distill that and you get ???.

What are the names of the ??? pieces above? If they don't exist, why not?

  • 4
    See this related question on Home Brewing Stack Exchange What do you get if you distill mead - it seems there is no one-word name for this in English, but it exists in some cultures, all with different names.
    – Billy Kerr
    Apr 12, 2022 at 13:46
  • 6
    The name in french is hydromel, and I am almost certain that this name is more or less shared with other languages. Apr 12, 2022 at 17:38
  • 2
    Interesting. The word "mead" is an obvious cognate to the slavonic word for honey ("med")
    – fraxinus
    Apr 13, 2022 at 10:06
  • 2
    Beer and whiskey are both made from wort, not one from the other.
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 13, 2022 at 10:38
  • 1
    In Spanish it also is Hidromiel! @JeanMarieBecker
    – M.K
    Apr 15, 2022 at 12:58

5 Answers 5


The interim step in rum making is called 'Wash', which unlike beer or wine isn't sold separately. I don't know exactly why, but I suspect it's because it doesn't taste good. The same is true of just about every spirit, including brandy and whiskey, you don't want to drink the first stage product.

To be a little bit technical, the first stage of whiskey making is an ale, or very similar to an ale. However, the fermented product that is made in whiskey making isn't a product you'd bottle and drink, again because it doesn't taste very good. Whiskey makers use different yeasts and encourage bacterial growth to add character to the end product after it's distilled, I'm told it's sour, unpleasant and very strong.

Brandy is made from wine (not always grapes, you have apple brandy, apricot brandy and others), however what makes a good table wine doesn't make good brandy. Special wine is produced for brandy that isn't bottled for consumption because it's acidic and not sweet.

  • 1
    Is there a distinction between "ale" and "beer" in regards to the intermediate stage of whiskey making? That is, is it technically incorrect to say "whiskey is distilled beer" (as micoh123 does), and if so, why?
    – R.M.
    Apr 12, 2022 at 17:55
  • 19
    Ale and lager are specific types of beers with technical distinctions, and while you could make a whiskey out of either, few distillers use finished beers, so I'd called it technically inaccurate to say whiskey is made from them. Both beer and whiskey come from a "mash" of water and malted grains, but while beer turns that porridge into the liquid "wort" and hops it to produce a beer, whiskey would produce their mash a little differently and distill. Saying that whiskey is made from beer is a little like saying cake is made from bread. They're both made from dough, but there's more to it.
    – Patrick
    Apr 12, 2022 at 18:38
  • 1
    @Tristan well... "hard seltzer" is incredibly common in the US right now. It's just fermented sugar water, the only extra step is carbonating it :)
    – rob
    Apr 13, 2022 at 16:28
  • 6
    @rob is hard seltzer made from fermented sugar water? I'd assumed it was made by adding a neutral spirit to a more typically-produced seltzer
    – Tristan
    Apr 14, 2022 at 10:00
  • 4
    @Tristan they're made in both ways, it really depends on the manufacturer. Ones coming out of breweries are usually fermented dextrose because they have the means to do so. Contract brewed ones are usually just neutral spirit watered down and carbonated. IMO the "better" ones are fermented dextrose...but they're all pretty terrible so that's not a huge mark.
    – rob
    Apr 14, 2022 at 12:17

You have to ferment sugarcane molasses (which is just concentrated boiled sugarcane juice) to distill into rum, so I'm not sure fermented molasses has any other name.

The second question was already asked and answered here, and it's simply 'distilled mead'.


Ferment sugar you get ???. Distill that and you get rum.

Distilled Sugar Cane is also called Cachaça. Rum is made with fermented molasses, while Cachaça is made from fermented (fresh) cane sugar.

According to here, the interim product you are looking for is called Wine Cane, though it looks like it's more commonly called Sugar Cane Wine:

Once the sugarcane juice has been filtered, yeast is added for the conversion of the sugar into alcohol. During fermentation, the yeast converts sugars into alcohol in less than 24 hours, producing a beverage of approximately lighter ABV also known as wine cane.


In the Canary Islands (Spanish), you can buy Ron Miel. In Madeira (Portuguese), you can buy Ron Mel. Both names translate as Honey Rum, but they are made by fermenting sugar cane (mel de cana in Portuguese).

The attached photograph was taken in a sugar cane museum in Calheta, Madeira.

enter image description here

  • 2
    Sugar cane is 'cana de açúcar' in Portuguese, it's just the plant itself. Mel de cana / melado / melaço is molasses, which is actually the product that is fermented for making rum.
    – Luciano
    Apr 14, 2022 at 8:34
  • Your photo shows the portuguese Aguardente, which is definitely a different product than Rum / it's not what rum is made of. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aguardiente
    – Luciano
    Apr 19, 2022 at 8:52

Fermented sugar gives you all alcohol. Boiling grain gives off sugars. Rums get made from cane sugars and you get vodka that is nothing more than fermented sugar water.

Brewers yeast is a micro organism that takes sugar of varying sort consumes it and produces alcohol and co2 as a by product.

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