Aguardiente is the generic name for alcoholic drinks between 29 and 60 percent alcohol, meaning "firewater", or, literally "burning water". The word itself is a compound word, combining the words for water ("agua" in Spanish) and burning ("ardiente" in Spanish).
In Colombia, aguardiente is an anise-flavoured liqueur derived from sugar cane, popular in the Andean region. Each department of Colombia holds the rights to produce it, but aguardiente produced in one region can be sold in another. By adding different amounts of aniseed, different flavours are obtained, leading to extensive marketing and fierce competition between brands. Aguardiente has a 29% alcohol content. Other anise-flavoured liqueurs similar to aguardiente but with a lower alcohol content are also sold. Aguardiente has maintained since the Spanish era the status of the most popular alcoholic beverage in the andean regions of Colombia with the notable exception of the Caribbean Region in which the Rum is king. Colombians in the andean regions drink it straight as individual shots and they rarely use it in cocktails.