Food & Drink

16 Boozes That Can Legally Only Come From One Place

world booze map
Anita Sukha/Thrillist

Some drinks are as cosmopolitan as they come -- your vodkas, your rums, your... Cosmopolitans? They can come from anywhere. But other boozes are special. These boozes are protected by worldwide guidelines or agreements that ensure they can only legally be made in particular locales or using specific ingredients.

Here are some of the world's favorite boozy drinks that can only come from one place.

Plymouth gin

Where it's from: Plymouth, England
The deal: Plymouth gin is a special gin variety that can only legally be produced in Plymouth, England. It's sweeter and earthier than traditional London dry gin, and today is made exclusively by the Black Friars Distillery, in operation since 1793. The beverage was traditionally given to all new Royal Navy vessels as a commissioning gift, along with some juice that -- in addition to inspiring Snoop Dogg -- also prevented scurvy.


Where it's from: Cologne, Germany (and the surrounding area)
The deal: This special German variety of beer is slightly less bitter than a traditional pale lager, and its brewing process is strictly defined by the Kölsch Konvention, which is probably the koolest konvention since Komik-Kon, and stipulates that it can only be made in the Cologne region. Other breweries around the world have attempted to imitate the style, but can't legally call their beers Kölsches -- which is why "Kölsch-style" is bandied about.


Where it's from: Greece; Cyprus
The deal: Ouzo, an anise-flavored liqueur, has a Protected Designation of Origin from the EU, meaning that it can only be legally produced with that name in Greece and Cyprus. Which is actually OK, since pretty much every single other country has their own anise-forward booze -- sambuca, arak, absinthe, Jägermeister... the list goes on.


Where it's from: Champagne region, France
The deal: Despite what you've insisted while trying to impress your date, that can of Californian sparkling wine isn't legally Champagne because it didn't come from the Champagne region in the Northeast of France, which is, according to international law and French snootiness, the only place Champagne can be made. So, um, maybe save that High Life for later.

Port wine

Where it's from: Douro Valley, Portugal
The deal: In the European Union, no wine can be called "port" unless it comes from the Douro Valley of Portugal. This super-sweet, fortified red wine, however, has a more dubious definition in the United States, where just about anyone can call their fortified red wine "port" and Interpol won't do a goddamn thing about it.


Where it's from: Peru; Chile
The deal: Pisco is a type of grape brandy hailing from South America, although there is some debate as to whose national beverage it truly is. Peru claims exclusive rights to the name of the yellowish liqueur, but several nations (our good ol' US of A included) allow exports of the stuff from Chile to be called pisco as well, a fact that probably makes most Peruvians... sour.

Scotch whisky

Where it's from: Scotland
The deal: No matter where you are in the world, the only whisky that can legally be called "Scotch" has to come from the great nation of Scotland. But not only that! It also has to be matured entirely in Scotland, in barrels of no greater than 700 liters, for more than three years, to an ABV of more than 40%. It pays to be finicky about your whisky, if the end product is this good.


Where it's from: Pajottenland, Belgium
The deal: A type of twice-fermented lambic beer, gueuze is often called "Brussels Champagne" due to its dry, sour, and effervescent taste. It's traditionally made in the Pajottenland area of Belgium, although a couple of new breweries have popped up elsewhere in the country to steal Pajottenland's thunder. Can't they just let Pajottenland have this one?!


Where it's from: Finland
The deal: Those crafty Finns. In addition to winning "Best Country in the World" for 2010, they also make a good beer -- sahti is a traditional drink made with the same trappings as a normal batch of suds, but often with more malt going in (like an entire loaf of bread) as well as juniper berries, for a taste that's described by many as being oddly banana-y. It's also got protected status, so no other European beverage with the same ingredients can be called "sahti," but Dogfish Head has made its own version, "Sah'tea," that includes chai.


Where it's from: The Cognac region of France
The deal: American rappers love it. French people are conspicuously indifferent to it (but then again, that's their relationship with most things... right?). The grape brandy known as Cognac has been the subject of many of Busta's rhymes, and it benefits from protected status, originating solely from an area between Paris and Bordeaux. FUN FACT: those seemingly unnecessary letters after the name of each Cognac are actually indicators of quality, from VS, to VSOP, to XO, to Extra.

Madeira wine

Where it's from: Madeira, Portugal
The deal: Madeira is a fortified wine coming from the islands of Madeira, Southwest of Portugal, and was invented partially by accident -- the addition of brandy to make the wine more alcoholic was intentional (it prevented the wine from spoiling, and made drinking it a bit more fun), but after a case of the stuff was forgotten by a ship's crew during a sea voyage, it became aged and heated to the point where its flavor changed into something more intense and concentrated. Now, wineries on the islands try to emulate that process, and they're the only ones allowed by EU law to call their stuff "Madeira."


Where it's from: Jalisco, Mexico; surrounding parts of the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas
The deal: Here's a big shocker: most tequila comes from around the Mexican city of Tequila, which is located in the state of Jalisco. It's Mexico's national spirit, and for the drink to legally be called "tequila," it needs to be produced in Jalisco or its neighboring states.


Where it's from: Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain
The deal: Sherry... or Xeres... or Jerez (depending on where you're from) is a fortified wine whose white grapes are grown exclusively in a small region of Spain, and which is fortified after fermentation. Its origin is subject to a lot of protection -- so much so, in fact, that Australia was essentially strong-armed into calling its copycat products by a different name ("apera") when it was discovered that growers there were terming the stuff "sherry" in traditional Spanish fashion.


Where it's from: Italy
The deal: Made of the stuff that's left over after grapes are processed for winemaking (a mixture of seeds, skins, and other odds 'n' ends called pomace), grappa is a distinctly Italian spirit, just like the ghost of Leonardo da Vinci. There are other pomace brandies (like marc, which is French) out there, but they're not grappa. Italians enjoy quaffing this stuff after their meals, which is the same relationship Americans have with pretty much every other drink that exists.

bourbon whiskey
Andy Kryza/Thrillist

Bourbon whiskey

Where it's from: United States
The deal: You know bourbon. Chances are, you love it. There shouldn't be any need to do this, but let us remind you: if the label says that it's "Guten Bourbon Urban German Bourbon," that ain't real bourbon. Real bourbon comes from the US only, and definitely not the cartoon world you're apparently living in.

Marsala wine

Where it's from: Marsala, Sicily, Italy
The deal: Chicken Marsala -- aka what your mom makes for every dinner party for some reason -- wouldn't be what it is without Marsala wine, a specialty type of wine that comes from around the city of Marsala in Sicily. The real stuff isn't quite as syrupy as the sauce her chicken is covered with, though; it's a kind of Italian interpretation of port or sherry, fortified but not overly strong.

Adam Lapetina is the partnerships editor at Thrillist, and hopes to visit Pajottenland one day. Read his musings at @adamlapetina.