What is Brandy and how is it made?
Brandy is a spirit drink that has fermented juice of any fruit as raw material, although fermented grape juice is most common, that is, wine. Brandy is then a distillate of wine.
If you want to know more about distillation, visit our article how to distill alcohol at home?
It can be wine of apples, peach, apricots. Whatever you like.
How is Brandy made?
The process may vary according to the distillery that makes it, but there are 4 basic steps to obtain it.
- The fruit juice must be fermented in order to obtain wine, which will be distilled into alcohol.
- Once the alcohol is obtained, the aging process begins. This step is the key that differentiates quality and variety.
- The next step consists in mixing the liquor with other Brandy barrels and water to reduce its alcoholic degree.
- Lastly, the bottling, which must be done with a minimum of 40° alcoholic concentrations.
What does Brandy taste like?
All Brandy brands have a particular flavor, but in general, the taste is sweet and fruity. It’s not extremely sweet but rather a subtle sweetness.
The sweet combined with the alcohol is somewhat like a combination between Whiskey and candy.
It has to be highlighted that the older the brandy is, the more delicate and woody its flavor will be. Also, the different flavor types are going to rely on the brandy’s base, the ones that are apple-based for example, tend to have a slightly acidic touch.
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Types of Brandy
There are many brands of Brandy, but beyond how they’re produced and of what fruit they come from, for the most common designations of origin, we have Brandy de Jerez, Cognac, Armagnac, Pisco, and Eau-de-vie.
Spanish Brandy is produced in the Andalusia region and was formerly used for medical purposes. The designation of origin is Brandy de Jerez and it’s made with the Solera Method, which allows the adding of younger brandies to aged brandies barrels.
Worldwide famous for being sweeter and more flavorful than brandies elsewhere.
Cognac is one of the most expensive drinks produced in France, It’s protected by the designation of origin and by law can only be produced in the Cognac region.
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It has to be composed of 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, or Colombard grapes. The wine produced from these grapes is high in acid and low in alcohol, which gives Cognac its attractive flavor.
France also produces Armagnac, whose designation of origin indicates that it can be only produced in the Armagnac French region, located to the southwest. Just like Cognac, it can only be produced from a specific type of grapes.
It can be aged only in Limousnin and Troncais barrels that are native of the region, and which are the flavor essence that Brandy acquires when it’s aged.
In South America, a famous Brandy known as Pisco is also produced. It’s presumed that it’s originally from Peru, although it’s also produced in Chile.
It’s classified into 4 types of Pisco, depending on the grape used, these can be: Pisco Puro, Pisco Aromatico, Pisco Acholado, and Pisco Quebranta.
Unlike other brandies it can be bottled at a higher alcoholic concentration, reaching up to 50°.
Eau-de-vie is a type of Brandy that can be produced from different types of fruit. Commonly apples, pears, peaches, and plums, and also used to make sweet liqueurs for cocktails.
In our article the best cognacs online 2023 you’ll find a personal selection for you to try a good cognac.
How do you drink Brandy?
The general recommendation is for it to be drunk neat with a little ice. There’s a special type of glass for brandy (ball cup) that has a wide bottom and a less wide mouth, to be able to catch the aroma. This type of glass is used to drink brandies produced as Brandy de Jerez, Cognac, and Armagnac.
Lower-grade Brandies are often drunk as a digestif in a small glass.
It’s also widely used in sweet cocktails. Among the best known are B&B, Brandy Cocktail, Brandy Milk Punch, Eggnog, and Pisco Sour.
Brandy is a spirit drink; do you want to know why are they called like that? Visit our article about what are the best spirit drinks and why are they called like that?
Famous Brands of Brandy
Brandy de Jerez
- Brandy Torres
- Carlos I
- 1866 Brandy
- Brandy Gran Duque de Alba
- Cardenal Mendoza
- Remy Martin
- Cles Des Ducs
What does it say on the bottle label?
Depending on its designation of origin you may or may not find something written on the label. The indications you’ll be able to find on the label are:
- A.C: Aged for two years
- V.S: “Very Special” or 3 stars, aged for at least 3 years.
- S.O.P: “Very Superior Old Pale” or 5 stars, aged for at least 5 years.
- X.O: “Extra Old”, Napoleon or Vieille Reserve; aged for at least 6 years.
- Vintage: Stored in the barrel until the bottling day, putting on the bottle, the bottling date.
- Hors D’age: Too old to determinate its age.