What Is Brandy? Everything You Need to Know About the Fruit-Forward Liquor

While brandy might conjure up images of elegant snifters, men smoking cigarettes cigars, and a space complete of leather-bound books, the traditional liquor, which is made from distilled red wine, isn’t as frightening as it may seem. This includes how brandy is made, what it tastes like, the lots of various types of brandy, how to tell the difference between Cognac and brandy, and the finest method to consume brandy.

Prepared for more information about this fruity spirit? Keep reading!
How Is Brandy Made?
Brandy is a liquor that is produced by distilling white wine and other kinds of fermented fruit juice. While grapes are most typically utilized to make brandy, other fruits, such as apples and cherries, can assist develop brandy also. “Brandy is made by distilling red wine,” states Bryant Darigan, the Bar Lead at South Carolina-based Bene Hospitality Group. “Wine is heated to create a vapor, and after that it is cooled to produce a focused alcoholic liquid.”

But the process does not end there. When the alcohol is concentrated, it’s time for the brandy to grow. “Then, [brandy] is aged in wood barrels, which provides it its distinct flavor and color,” Darigan adds. “Of course the end product’s taste and quality depends on factors like the type of grapes utilized, how it’s distilled, and the aging conditions.”
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What Does Brandy Taste Like?
Because brandy is distilled from fermented grape juice and other fruit juices, the taste can understandably differ based on the exact active ingredients utilized. The aging procedure can impact how brandy tastes.

Darigan agrees that brandy’s taste can differ depending upon numerous aspects, adding: “Brandy really has a large range of tastes, however is typically referred to as abundant, aromatic, and complex. It actually depends upon the grape range and aging process. Brandy could have notes of fruit, oak, spices, caramel, and often even a hint of sweetness.”

What Is the Difference Between Cognac and Brandy?
Cognac and brandy are often conflated with one another, but they are not the exact same. “Cognac is produced in the Cognac region of France, situated along the Charente River basin,” shares Hedges. “The Cognac region consists of 6 demarcated geographies, or crus, within the Charente River basin, each of which imbues its grapes with a clearly recognizable character.”

Per Darigan, the most significant difference between Cognac and other brandies depends upon numerous aspects, including production approaches, origin, and quality regulations. “Cognac is produced solely in the Cognac area of France, and abides by strict policies concerning grape ranges, distillation approaches (it’s distilled two times in copper pot stills), aging (it’s aged for a minimum of 2 years in French oak barrels), and particular quality standards.”
He continues: “On the other hand, brandy incorporates a more comprehensive series of spirits made from different grapes and fruits that can be produced in different regions worldwide, following diverse distillation methods and aging procedures. While all Cognacs are brandy, not all brandies are Cognac.”

And according to Hedges, there are even a number of different kinds of Cognac that vary based upon sub-region and the length of time the alcohol is aged. “The youngest of Cognacs, marked VS, are still sharp-edged and used primarily for cooking,” he notes. “VSOP– aged for four years or more– is fantastic for cocktails. Anything older than that, such as six-year-old Napoleon, ten-year old XO, Hors d’Age, or those designated ‘vintage’, are indicated for advanced drinking.”

What Are the Different Types of Brandy?
If you’ve ever purchased brandy, and even perused the brandy section at your local alcohol store, you’re most likely mindful that there are many different kinds of brandy to select from. A few of the most popular brandy ranges consist of the aforementioned Cognac, Armagnac, and pisco. While we’ve currently discussed the distinctions between Cognac and brandy, what about the other types of brandy?

Like Cognac, Armagnac is produced in a particular area of France. “Armagnac is France’s oldest distilling area. Its native spirit may not have the track record that Cognac enjoys, however the eaux-de-vie of this region are frequently more engaging than those of Cognac,” says Hedges, who points out that the Armagnac region is about 75 miles from Bordeaux. “Aging requirements are governed by the very same labeling system as Cognac, and variety from VS to XO. And similar to Cognac, Armagnac also differs by sub-region.”

As Darigan mentions, Armagnac and Cognac are also produced using somewhat various methods. “Armagnac is generally distilled when in a continuous column, still leading to a more robust and rustic taste profile compared to Cognac, with floral, fruity, and even earthy notes,” he describes.

Pisco, on the other hand, is the South American derivation of brandy made in Chile and Peru, and it is unaged. If you’ve ever had a pisco sour, you’re familiar with pisco’s flower and herbaceous notes that add depth to the popular beverage.

How to Drink Brandy
Because there are so many various types of brandy, aged for different periods of time and in different manners, you can find both brandies to sip solo, as well as those that are better matched for mixed drinks and combined beverages. “I discover brandies to work well in mixed drinks myself, but I likewise like to consume mine in a basic way. Put a room temperature level brandy in a tulip or snifter to actually assist concentrate the aromas, and sip gradually to appreciate all the taste and intricacy that is brandy.”

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