Cider vinegar is produced from hard cider or apple wine, has a yellow hue and may be coloured further with caramel. Such ciders tend to have a relatively low acidity. Vinegars may be made from a range of other fermented fruits, taking on some of the character of the original base.
Rice vinegar derives from the acetification of sake or its co-products. When compared with cider vinegar, rice vinegar tends to have a fairly low acidity and has a light and delicate flavour highly favoured for oriental cooking because of its low impact on the flavour imparted by the other materials in the dish.
Molasses has been used as a base for vinegar production (though not extensively) as a mechanism for dealing with by-products of the sugar industry. Mead has been employed as a vinegar base, too.
Spirit vinegar, sometimes called white distilled vinegar, is derived from alcohol obtained by the distillations of fermented sugar solutions. If legally permitted, synthetic ethanol is used, diluted to 10-14% ABV. It is colourless of course, but may be darkened by the addition of caramel. As is to be expected, this is the cheapest vinegar to produce and, accordingly, is the one that is most widespread for general use and, when diluted to 4-5%, for use in pickling.
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