Kosher Spirits by Category
A quick reference guide by spirit for what is and isn't kosher.
The Laws of Kosher Spirits
The crown jewel of the observant Jew's liquor cabinet, whisk(e)y is kosher even without a certification as long as it's (1) just whisk(e)y with no finishing flavors or spices added after distillation and (2) not aged in any barrels that have previously held other liquors, spirits, or wine. The majority of bourbons, ryes, and scotches fall into this category - no matter if they're blended or single-malt/barrel. Many scotches (and some other whiskies) are aged in sherry casks. While some observant folks have would be ok with that, many of the strictest folks wouldn't. If you're buying for someone else, I'd avoid sherry casks until you know how the drinker observes.
Moonshines and "white" whiskeys need kosher certification. (But remember, if you can buy it in a store and not get arrested, it's not really moonshine!) Flavored whiskies like Fireball, Apple Jack, and others need kashrut certification.
Unflavored vodka that's distilled from grain, potatoes, corn, or sugar is kosher even without a certification. Some vodkas are distilled from grapes or milk products like lactose or whey and do need kashrut certification. Many flavored brand-name vodkas are kosher certified.
Regular/standard gin is kosher even without a certification, no matter the botanicals (juniper, etc) added before distillation. Some gins, like vodkas are distilled from grapes or milk products like lactose or whey and do need kashrut certification. Flavored gins (flavors are added after distillation) and barrel-aged gins need special certification.
Mezcal & Tequila
Unflavored, regular tequila, mezcal, and the other agave-based spirits need no special certification if nothing was added after distillation. Barrel-aged tequila and mezcal need special certification. Any spirit with a worm in the bottle is never, ever kosher, and it's a cheap stunt to make you think the liquor is more exotic than it really is. Even if you don't keep kosher, liquor with a worm in it is just a silly and useless idea.
Unflavored, regular rum is always kosher. Spiced rum needs special certification as do rums aged in casks that once contained other spirits. Rum aged in plain/new casks need no special certification.
All unflavored beers are kosher even without certification. Flavored beers (such as pumpkin, fruit, etc) need a certification. A vast amount of breweries carry certification these days, even for flavored beers.
Wine, Brandy, Liqueurs, and More:
Liqueurs, brandy, cognac, vermouth, soju, wine, mead, cider, and malt beverages always need a certification. Many of these spirits are eau-de-vie based, which is distilled from grapes or distilled from wine, or are flavored after distillation.
The list of brands that are kosher certified is always growing and changing. Here are some of the most reliable lists of acceptable spirits. These lists are updated regularly.