What is the difference between liquor and liqueur?

Key Difference: The main difference between liquor and liqueur is that liquor is an un-flavored distilled spirit, while liqueur is a sweetened alcoholic drink.

Liqueurs are typically made from distilled spirits and various flavorings such as fruits, nuts, herbs, or spices.

They are often bottled with added sugar and may have a syrupy or thick consistency.

Liquors are not typically sweetened, and they usually have a thinner consistency than liqueurs.

Another important distinction between liquor and liqueur is that liquors are generally bottled at higher alcohol by volume (ABV) than liqueurs.

Liqueurs typically have an ABV of 15-30%, while liquors can have an ABV of 30% or more.

What is Liquor?

Liquor is an alcoholic drink that is typically made from grains, such as barley, corn, or rye. It is then distilled to produce a high-proof spirit.

Liquor can be either consumed straight or used in cocktails.

What typically defines liquor is its high alcohol content. In the United States, usually, most types of liquor have at least 30% ABV.

This high alcohol content makes it a popular choice for cocktails, as it can be used to add flavor and potency.

There are many different types of liquor, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some common types of liquor include whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum.

One of the best examples of liquor is Whisky. It is distilled from fermented grain mash and typically contains around 40% alcohol by volume.

The different types of whisky vary in flavor, but they all have a smoky and sweet taste. Some popular types of whisky include Scotch, bourbon, and rye.

What is Liqueur?

A liqueur is a sweet, alcoholic drink that is usually made from spirits and flavorings. It is often used as an ingredient in cocktails or can be served on its own.

Liqueur comes in a variety of flavors, such as chocolate, coffee, and orange.

Some of the most popular liqueurs include Amaretto, Baileys Irish Cream, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Kahlua, and Sambuca.

These spirits are all made with various combinations of alcohol, sugar, and flavoring agents such as herbs, spices, fruits, or nuts.

The ABV of liqueur can vary, but it is typically around 15-30%.

However, there are some exceptions, such as the 40% ABV Grand Marnier.

What defines liqueur is that it must have a minimum of 2.5% sugar content by weight.

This distinguishes liqueur from other types of spirits, such as whiskey and vodka, which usually have no added sugars.

You can drink liqueur on its own or use it in cocktails. It is also used as an ingredient in many desserts, such as tiramisu and crème brûlée.

Liquor vs Liqueur

One of the biggest differences between liquor and liqueur is that liquor is typically un-sweetened while liqueur is sweet.

Liqueur also generally contains more sugar than liquor. Additionally, liqueur often has a lower proof (or alcohol content) than liquor.

One major differentiation is that liquor is an un-aged distilled spirit, while liqueur is a spirit that has been flavored and sweetened.

Liquor is made by fermenting grains, fruits, or vegetables. This produces a clear liquid called ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

Liqueur, on the other hand, is made by adding sugar, water, and flavoring to ethanol. The production of liqueur also typically involves a longer, more complex process than liquor.

For example, to make crème de menthe, the alcohol is first infused with mint leaves. The mixture is then strained and mixed with sugar syrup before being bottled.

Main Differences

Important differences between liquor and liqueur include –


The process of making liquor is relatively simple – it just involves fermenting and distilling grains or fruits. Liqueur, on the other hand, requires a lot more work.

It usually starts with a spirit that is then infused with sugar and flavors (such as herbs, spices, fruits, or nuts).

So, the preparation time for liqueur is a lot longer than for liquor. This difference in their manufacturing process is why liquor is often cheaper than liqueur.

Alcohol content

Liquor has a higher alcohol content than liqueur. This is because liquor undergoes a more rigorous distillation process than liqueur.

As a result, liquor typically contains around 40% ABV (alcohol by volume), while liqueur contains around 15-30% ABV.


The taste of liquor is often described as being “smooth” and “clean”.

Liqueur, on the other hand, has a more complex flavor profile, thanks to all of the added flavors and sugar.

You can find the difference in taste between liquor and liqueur even in their names – liquor is often associated with words like “whiskey” or “rum”, which have a strong, distinctive flavor.

Liqueur, on the other hand, often has sweet flavors like “cherry” or “hazelnut”.


The pricing is one of the major differences between liquor and liqueur.

Liquor is usually much cheaper than liqueur, because the production process is simpler and it has a higher alcohol content.

This means that you can get more alcohol for your money when you buy liquor. However, liqueur is often more expensive because of the added flavors and sugar.

The cost of liqueur can also be affected by its brand and popularity.

Both liquor and liqueur can be found at various price points, so it’s important to do your research before you buy.


Liquor is available in most liquor stores and supermarkets.

However, liqueur can be a little harder to find, because of its higher price point.

You’ll usually find liqueur at specialty liquor stores or retailers that focus on selling wine and spirits.

In the United States, liqueur is classified as a “spirit” by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which means that it can be sold alongside liquor in stores.


Liquor is a key ingredient in many cocktails, such as the margarita, whiskey sour, and Bloody Mary.

Liqueur is also used in cocktails, but not as often as liquor.

This is because liqueur is more expensive than liquor and it has a higher alcohol content, which can make cocktails taste too sweet or strong.

However, there are some liqueur cocktails that are very popular, such as the Kamikaze and the White Russian.


Liquor is a great drink to pair with food because it doesn’t have a strong flavor profile.

This means that it won’t overshadow the flavors of the food you’re eating.

Liqueur, on the other hand, is not as versatile when it comes to pairing. This is because its strong flavors can clash with certain foods.


Liquor can be stored at room temperature, but it’s best to keep it in a cool, dark place.

Liqueur should also be stored in a cool, dark place, but you can store it in the fridge if you want to keep it fresh for longer.


The history of liquor can be traced back to thousands of years ago, when people began fermenting grains and fruits to make alcohol.

Liqueur, on the other hand, is a more recent invention.

It was first created in the 18th century, when distillers started adding sugar and flavors to spirits.