Difference Between Alcohol and Liquor (With Table)

Alcoholic beverages have been very popular in a human context. Consuming them can be traced back to10,000 BC or even earlier. Although there is no concrete evidence that human beings used to ferment drinks from fruits, vegetables and grains in vessels. The evidence of consuming and making alcoholic beverages is a part of the oldest civilization of China, as old as around 7000 BC.

Consuming alcoholic beverages was very common in social functions, events, religious, spiritual and traditional practices as well. It was considered a common practice in any religion and culture of the globe. Soon and gradually, the distillation process emerged, which led to the production of liquors. Thus, the differences between liquor and alcohol become crystal clear.

Alcohol vs Liquor

The difference between alcohol and liquor is that alcohol is generally prepared by the processes involved in chemical reactions and fermentation. Whereas liquor is prepared generally by the process of distillation. All alcoholic beverages can be categorised as liquor. However, not all liquors are alcohols. Rather liquor is a subset of the family of alcohols. Brandy which is a liquor, is an alcoholic too. But, Beer which is alcohol, is not liquor.

Alcohol belongs to a family of organic compounds. When a hydroxyl or -OH group is bonded with the carbon atom, it makes alcohol. These are generally prepared by the process of fermentation and chemical reaction. Various components of alcohol comprise methanol, propanol, ethanol and so on. Not all types of alcohols are fit for consumption. The ethanol content in alcohols is comparatively low than other beverages.

Liquor can be categorised as a type of alcoholic beverage. It is an alcoholic beverage that is prepared by the process of distillation. The main ingredient which constitutes liquor is ethanol. However, all types of Liquors available and marketed are fit of consumption. They include rum, brandy, vodka, whisky, etc. The percentage of ethanol present in Liquors is generally high and higher than in alcohols also.

Comparison Table Between Alcohol and Liquor

Parameters of ComparisonAlcoholLiquor
TypeA type of organic compound.A type of alcoholic beverage.
DefinitionWhen a hydroxyl group is attached to the carbon atom, it makes alcohol.It is an alcoholic beverage that is made by fermentation and then distillation process.
Preparation processFermentation or chemical reaction.Distillation.
ComponentsEthanol, methanol, propanol and so on.It mainly consists of Ethanol.
ConsumptionNot all are safe for consumption purposes.Safe for consumption.
Ethanol contentThe presence of ethanol is low.The presence of ethanol is high.

What is Alcohol?

The main characteristic of an alcoholic family is that there is a presence of a hydroxyl group. The Hydroxyl group is a –OH functional group. The simplest known alcohol that belongs to the family of alcohols is methyl alcohol. Commonly and popularly, it is also called methanol. The hydroxyl group generally attaches to the sp3 hybridised carbon atom.

Alcohols can be classified into three groups. They are primary alcohol, secondary alcohol and tertiary alcohol. The classification of alcohol generally depends upon the degree of the substituted carbon, which is directly attached to the hydroxyl group. If the carbon to which the hydroxyl group is attached is bonded with no other carbon atoms and it is a primary alcohol. If the hydroxyl bonded carbon atom is attached to two other carbon atoms, it makes secondary alcohol and so on.

According to the nomenclature suggested by IUPAC, the name of the alcohols are kept with a suffix -of. Alcohols are known to possess hi boiling point than that of the corresponding hydrocarbons. The reason being, due to the presence of interaction between the molecules of alcohol via hydrogen bonding. Moreover, alcohols are generally polar. They are weak acids as well.

What is Liquor?

With the process of distillation of alcohol, an alcoholic beverage can be produced, which is called Liquor. Liquor is a very strong beverage that contains ethanol as its main ingredient. When the high in sugar-containing materials get ferment by the yeast-like anaerobic bacteria, they produce liquors.

Those materials which can be used for fermentation are fruits, vegetables, grain, sugarcane, etc. In the process of fermentation, the conversion of sugars into ethanol occur. The content produced is further distilled. As alcohol has a comparatively low boiling point than water, the alcohol evaporates quickly and then can be collected from the condensed water vapour in the form of liquor.

Liquor can be measured according to the volume of alcohol content they have. Some examples of liquor beverages are rum, brandy, whisky and vodka. They are also called “spirits”.

Main Differences Between Alcohol and Liquor

  1. Alcohol is a type of organic compound. On the other hand, liquor is a type of alcoholic beverage.
  2. When a hydroxide group is bonded with the carbon atom, it produces alcohol. However, liquor is an alcoholic beverage made by fermentation and then distillation.
  3. Alcohols are made by the process of fermentation or chemical reaction. Whereas liquors are prepared by the process of distillation.
  4. Various components of alcohol include ethanol, methanol, propanol, etc. However, Liquor mainly consists of Ethanol only.
  5. Not all by-products of alcohols are safe for consumption purposes. On the other hand, Liquor contains beverages that are safe for consumption.
  6. The ethanol content in Alcohols is low. On the other hand, the ethanol content in Liquors is much higher than alcohols.


Many people interchangeably use the term liquor and alcohol. However, it is also the fact that liquor has some alcohol content in it. Meanwhile, not all alcoholic drinks can be considered liquor. This may sound odd, but the fact is that there are significant differences between them. To know how alcohol differs from liquor, we need to know about its history, its development and categories. Alcohols in their pure quality are not ingested in their raw form. If the alcohol content in the blood is even raised high, then it can create a catastrophe.

Both ethanol and alcohol can be categorised by the presence of ethanol content in them. And it is measured in terms of percentage. Wine and Beer are such alcoholic beverages, which have a bit low ethanol content than others, which is around 4-15 per cent. On the other hand, liquors like vodka and gin are a more concentrated form of Liquors having up to 95% of ethanol content.


  1. https://www.jsad.com/doi/abs/10.15288/jsad.2007.68.48
2D vs 3D video