One of the most important processes in alcohol production is fermentation and proper alcohol fermentation can produce alcohol with character. Most drinkers including yourself would rate any alcoholic beverage based on its taste, color, and strength but most importantly you would look for character that would eventually end up pleasing your taste buds and your senses too.
Every alcoholic beverage including wine, beer, vodka, rum, whiskey, etc requires passing through the fermentation process before it acquires alcohol strength that is mentioned as proof levels on the bottle or can. But before fermentation can take place there are other processes that lead towards fermentation. These include steeping, malting, mashing, and boiling before fermenting the mixture. This mixture is made up of water and appropriate starch sources such as grains, grapes, apples, potatoes, rice, barley, maize, corn, or various other ingredients depending on the alcohol that needs to be produced.
This alcohol fermentation process converts starch and sugars present in this mixture into alcohol or ethanol as it is also known. The brewing process before fermentation produces a mixture or wort that is then infused with yeast to kick-off alcohol or ethanol fermentation. The yeast that is added also depends on the alcohol drink that needs to be produced. For example brewers yeast cannot produce strong alcohols and is hence used to produce beer. Lager beer too gets its unique character from yeast such as saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. Similarly, wine yeast works well to produce medium strength of alcohol and is thus used in wine production. However, vodka yeast can produce vodka with very high proof levels and is thus used to produce this heady drink.
Fermentation can take place only at optimum temperatures that vary between 15 and 27 degrees Celsius. Hence, any wort that has been boiled to sterilize the mixture and remove any impurities needs to cool down before any yeast is added. If you are making homebrew alcohol then you can also add appropriate instant yeast or turbo yeast since they can work efficiently in a wider temperature range. Once the fermentation of sugar is complete then the resultant alcohol might need to get polished and filtered before being packed and dispatched for consumption. Most manufacturers have different methods and time-frames for yeast growth and yeast fermentation during the fermentation process, and this process ensures alcoholic drinks with different character, taste, strength, and acidity levels.
Some spirits such as whiskey and vodka also require an additional distillation process after the fermentation is complete. These strong alcohols also require distillers yeast to produce spirits with increased strength. This process along with fermentation again produces whiskey or vodka with the right amount of strength and character that could compel you to stick to that particular type or brand for life.
It is the entire alcohol production process that ultimately converts water and grains or fruits or vegetables into delectable alcohol beverages. However, it is the fermentation process that converts sugar and starch into ethanol and alcohol that ultimately provides the desired taste and strength to that alcoholic drink. In addition to other processes, proper alcohol fermentation does produce alcohol with character that ends up pleasing your senses with each tasty sip.