Some evidences discovered abroad indicated man made the distilled alcoholic liquor for the first time in about twelfth century. It was said that the hot distilled liquor was not used for drinking but for the material used to cause burning or dissolving liquid, later it was used as medicine (from Comprehensive Biotechnology》, vol. 3, p. 862, edited by Merray Moo- Young, Pergamon Press) . The foreign distilled liquor is mainly distilled by using the grape wine. The English word "spirits" stemmed from Latin word "spiritus vini". Later the Paracelsus named the hot distilled grape liquor "al ko hol" (meaning the fiest, the noblest).In view of time, the twelfth century equals the early Southern Power period of Song Dynasty, almost the same age as Jing Shi-zong's period when the distilled liquor occurred. Is it a concidence that the Chinese distilled liquor appeared at the same time as the foreign distilled hot liquor.
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In ancient Greek, Aristotle once wrote, "Water can be changed into steam, the steam in turn changed into water with the distiller. In this way, sea water can be changed into drinkable liquid …" This shows that people at that time discovered the distilling principle, The ancient Egyptians used to make perfume by means of distilling. During the mid-age, Arabians invented distilling of alcoholic liquor, In the tenth century, a philosopher named Avicenna once gave a detailed description of distiller, but he didn't mentioned the distilled alcoholic liquor. However some people think although the distilled alcoholic liquor was not mentioned, it surely existed at that time. In 1313, a Catalan professor (Catalan Lived in Spain and other countries) might be the earliest person who recorded the distilled alcoholic liquor (all the reference abstracted from 《 New Encyclopedia of Wines and Spirits 》 by Alexis Lichine).
The names of distilled liquors in ancient Chinese documents mainly include as follows:
"Shao Jiu or Shao Chun", first used in Tang Dynasty, but whether the names refered to the distilled liquor or not at that time is till at issue. Since Song Dynasty, Shao Jiu or Shao Chun began to represent the distilled liquor.
"Arrack" used in a 《Ying Shas Zhang Yao》 in Yuan Dynasty;
"Nan Fan Sao Jiu," used in 《Ju Jia Bi Yong Shi Lei Quan Ji 》 in Yuan Dynasty;
"Zha Lai Ji," used in 《 Zha Lai Ji Jiu Fu 》 in Yuan Dynasty;
"Standard Alcoholic Liquor," used in 《 Chao Mu Zi 》 in early Ming Dynasty;
"Han Jiu, Qi Jiu," used in 《 Luang Ji Cong Tai Xu Tai San Tai.》. (abstracted from the poems written by Li Cong-biao of Yuan Dynasty);
"Huo Jiu," used in 《 Ben Cao Gang Mu 》 of Ming Dynasty;
"Alcoholic Dew," used in 《Dian Hai Yu Heng Zhi 》 of Qing Dynasty;
"Chinese Sorghum Liquor or Chinese Sorghum Alcoholic Dew," used in 《 Sui Yuan Shi Dan 》, which were general names of the distilled liquor in Qing Dynasty and Guo-mingdang Power's period;
"White Liquor and Lao Bai Gan," used in modern time;
"Fermented Mash Liquor or Fermented Distilled Liquor, " refered to the distilled spirit made from the re-fermentation of filtered rice fermented grain, it is also called "Jiu Han" in some books.
It has been researched that Aciji, Zalanji, Alichi and Haciji were all from the pronunciation translation of a borrowing word of "Arrack". As to the word of "Arrack", it is thought to be a synonym of perspiration in the origin of word. It was used to express tree juice, then was changed to expressing the naturally fermented alcoholic drink . The word "Arrack" could be used to indicate both un- distilled tree juice or naturally fermented alcoholic drink and the distilled liquor, it was commonly used in different countries during the ancient times, only spelt in a slightly different way, such as "Arac" in French, "Arrck" in German, "Rack or Rak" in Dutch and "Araca" in Portuguese. (Arrack and Distilled Liquor", 《Splendid Alcoholic Beverage Culture of the World 》, published by Chengdu Press, 1993) . According to the foreign historical reference and documents of alcoholic beverages, the word "Arrack" and other similar names actually referred to the distilled liquor in general, As for the description of distilling process, many names have also been used in ancient and modern times, such as "Steamed Liquor, " "Burnt Liquor", "Separated Liquor" etc.
And there existed even more names of the distiller: "Steam Cauldron", "Brewing Cauldron" and "Alcohol Pot or Jar" etc. ..