It’s difficult to fairly evaluate hard liquor in the context of a diet, because it’s almost impossible to posit a scenario in which drinking booze is fundamentally healthy unless we’re talking about a St. Bernard flooding your body with brandy to save you from freezing to death.
But given that dietary discussion ordinarily centers around caloric intake, the primary thing we would need to consider is the caloric content of your booze. Or more simply put, on a shot-by-shot basis, which hard liquor has the fewest overall calories? The thing is, in essence, they’re all inherently the same. An 80-proof rum has the same number of calories as an 80-proof vodka at 97 per ounce, and a 94-proof gin has the same amount of per-ounce calories as a 94-proof whisky, at 116 calories per ounce. Again, fundamentally, they’re all identical.
Come on! They’re all made out of different things! That must make some sort of difference, right?
Sort of. We can compare these spirits on levels that have less to do with calories and more to do with micronutrient content. All we have to do is compare them on a 100 gram basis. However, I’m going to play fair and warn you ahead of time that there’s a huge catch awaiting you at the end of this whole exercise.
Thanks for the heads up! So what does the analysis tell us?
First of all, we can dispense with most of the discussion pertaining to how the original forms of these spirits drastically influences the composition of the alcoholic product they produce, and this is in spite of what many proponents of the individual spirit varieties would have you believe. A clear-cut example is gin, which contains juniper berries as a key ingredient. Despite how much the vitamin-richness of juniper berries is promoted, and a clear allusion is made to gin somehow benefitting from the vitamin C that juniper berries are supposedly bursting with, there’s no vitamin C whatsoever in gin. None.
Is it the same for the other hard alcohols?
Well, rum will provide you with 17 percent of your daily copper requirement, along with 5 percent of your essential iron. It will also give you some small amounts of sodium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc, and a tiny amount of vitamin B1.
Vodka, which can be made from potatoes or grain, possesses copper, phosphorus, iron, potassium and sodium, but all in daily value percentages of 4 percent or less. (It also contains trace amounts of vitamin B1 and B2.)
In terms of whisky, it scores highest in the copper category with 5 percent of the mineral’s recommended daily value, and also contains small but measurable percentages of phosphorus, zinc, potassium and sodium. As far as the completeness of the vitamin B complex is concerned, whisky scores highest again by posting 2 percent of your recommended daily vitamin B1 intake and a further 1 percent of your advised dosage of vitamins B2 and B3.
Well, I suppose it’s better than nothing!
It’s a lot closer to nothing than you realize.
Remember when I warned you ahead of time that there would be a catch to all of this? Here’s the catch: All of these provided values are tabulated on the basis of us taking 100 grams of each of these spirits. Well, we can safely say that a single shot of anything is going to be between 40 and 50 grams, so none of the values I’ve listed off for you would kick in until you’ve downed at least two shots of your spirit of choice.
Realistically, you can expect to take whatever mineral or vitamin content I’ve listed for these spirits and divide its total by 2.5. Once that simple division is performed, all of the vitamin content essentially disappears, and the only mineral content remaining that might even make you bat an eyelash is the copper content of rum, and that’s still a pretty big stretch.
So… rum wins, I guess?
If we absolutely must select a winner out of this farce, it has to be rum. In essence, since all of these alcohols are fundamentally equal in every other category, the slightly-greater-than-negligible level of copper contained in rum is the only noteworthy figure on the scoreboard.
But please don’t use the marginal presence of copper in rum as the premise to order 700 calories worth of Miami Vices under the pretense that it’s somehow healthy for you. Because you can get the exact same amount of copper from a handful of almonds or one serving of shiitake mushrooms — and without ever having to worry about getting a hangover.