Spirits are alcoholic beverages that contain ethanol (ethyl alcohol) and are produced by the fermentation of sugars by yeast or via petrochemical processes. In daily language it is often called just alcohol. The spirit-making process begins with base materials, which must contain natural sugars or can be converted into a sugary liquid called mash . The mash or juice is then fermented to create the alcoholic wash, which is distilled. After distillation , a spirit may be aged, flavored or colored. Each step along the way involves choices that distillers make to affect the flavor, consistency and alcohol level of the final product we know.

Spirits will have a certain euphoric effect on those who drink them. In large amounts they can lead to intoxication. Because of this, the use of alcoholic beverages has been associated with several debates, and in some places has been a ban on alcohol intake which lead to Prohibition.