The name brandy derives from the Dutch phrase brandewijn (burnt wine), which was used by the simple Dutch merchants who brought it to northern Europe in the sixteenth century to describe a wine that had been “burnt,” or boiled, in order to extract the alcohol from it before distilling it.

Brandy’s roots may be traced back to the expanding Muslim Mediterranean nations of the seventh and eighth century when it was first produced. Alchemists in the area experimented with distilling grapes and other fruits to create therapeutic spirits, which they sold as liqueurs.

Their knowledge and skills quickly extended beyond the bounds of the area, with grape brandy production occurring in Spain and perhaps Ireland (by missionary monks) by the end of the ninth century. The origins of grape brandy are unknown.

The term “brandy” refers to a spirit manufactured from fruit juice or fruit pulp and peel, which is the most general description. More precisely, it is divided into three fundamental categories.
Grape brandy is a kind of brandy made from fermented grape juice or crushed grape pulp and skin, rather than pressed grape pulp and skin.

This alcohol is aged in wooden barrels (often oak), which gives it a richer color, mellows down the taste, and enhances the smells and flavors of the spirit.

Pomace brandy (of which the most well-known examples are the Italian grappa and the French marc) is manufactured from the pressed grape pulp, skins, and stems that remain after the grapes have been crushed and pressed to extract the majority of the juice for wine.
Pomace brandies, which are typically matured for a short period of time and

never see wood, are considered an acquired taste. They are sometimes considered raw, despite the fact that they may provide a fresh, fruity scent indicative of the grape variety used, a quality that is absent from conventional oak-aged brandy.

Fruit brandy is the phrase used to refer to any brandies that are manufactured from fermenting fruits other than grapes and is the most often used.

The term “fruitflavored brandy” refers to grape brandy that has been flavored with an extract of another fruit. Fruit brandies, with the exception of those produced from berries, are typically prepared by distilling fruit wines.

Generally speaking, berries do not contain enough sugar to produce a wine with enough alcohol to allow for good distillation; as a result, they are macerated (soaked) in a high-proof spirit to extract their taste and fragrance.

After that, the extract is distilled once more at a low proof. It is possible that Calvados, the apple brandy from the Normandy area of northwestern France, is the most well-known form of fruit brandy in the world. Eau de vie (French for “water of life”) is a colorless fruit brandy that is especially popular in the Alsace area of France and in California.



French brandy is a generic term that refers to brandy made from grapes cultivated in a variety of locations across the world. They are typically distilled in column stills and matured in wood barrels for varying lengths of time before being released onto the market.

They are commonly combined with other brandies, such as cognac, wine, grape juice, oak flavorings, and other brandies, such as rum, to smooth out their harsh edges. Although quality labels akin to cognacs, such as V.S.O.P. and Napoleon, are often used (see page 83), they have no legal status.


Cognac is the most well-known sort of brandy in the world, and it serves as a standard against which all other types of brandy are measured. It is situated in the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime on the south-central coast of France, just north of Bordeaux, and is home to the world-famous Cognac area.

The area is further broken into six growth zones: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Bois Ordinaires, Borderies, Fins Bois, and Bons Bois. Grande Champagne is the most productive zone, followed by Petite Champagne and Bois Ordinaries.

The first two of these districts are known for producing the greatest cognac, and as a result, they are commonly classified as such on bottle labels.

The Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard grapes are the principal varieties utilized in the production of cognac. Because the wines derived from these grapes are thin, acidic, and low in alcohol, they make poor table wines; nonetheless, they are ideal for creating brandy.

Cognac is manufactured by distilling it twice in pot stills that have been carefully built, and then aging it in barrels made of Limousin or Troncais wood.

All cognacs begin their lives in new oak barrels, where they are mellowed by the hot spirit and given color. Batches selected for long-term aging are moved to old barrels, referred to as “seasoned,” after a few years of maturing.

This allows the brandy to develop while retaining fewer of the oak taste characteristics.
It is very impossible to find a single cognac that is not a combination of brandies from several vintages and, in many cases, distinct growing zones.

Many of the brandies from single vineyards or distilleries include a blend of brandies from various aging barrels.

The products of local vineyards are sold to cognac houses, which store and mature cognacs from a variety of different sources, similar to how champagne is stored and aged. The suppliers then hire master blenders to produce and maintain consistency in the house blends, which are made up of ingredients sourced from a variety of sources.


Agricultural spirits, such as rum and tequila, include brandy. The production of brandy is influenced by the seasons, the ripening of the base fruit, and the production of the wine from which it is made, as opposed to grain spirits such as whiskey, vodka, and gin, which can be produced year-round from grain that can be harvested and stored.

In the beginning, at least, brandies were typically associated with specific regions. The town and area of Cognac in France, for example, are named for the brandy that is produced there.

In order to further identify their local spirits, important brandy-making locations, notably in Europe, define the sorts of grapes that may be used, as well as the exact territories (appellation) in which the grapes are used to make the base wine can be cultivated.


The industry has devised certain commonly recognized phrases to classify cognacs since there are no age statements on the bottles of cognac. Remember that these phrases have no legal standing and that each cognac shipper employs them in accordance with his or her own set of requirements.

Vocal Score/Vocal Score Points/3-Star (V.S.: very superior; V.S.P.: very superior pale) It is recommended to age your wine for at least two years in a barrel, however the industry standard is four to five years.
Vice President of the United States of America, V.S.O.P. (very superior old pale) For the youngest cognac in the blend, a minimum of four years’ barrel aging is required, with the industry average being between ten and fifteen years.

Napoleon XII (X.O. ): (X.O.: extra old) The youngest cognac in the blend must be aged for a minimum of six years, with the average age of the blend being twenty years or more. In order to combine these top-of-the-line brands, all cognac firms keep large stockpiles of ancient vintage cognac.

In order to minimize additional evaporation loss and to keep extremely woody taste notes to a minimum, older cognacs are taken from their barrels and kept in demijohns (big jugs) of glass.


Armagnac is France’s oldest sort of brandy, with recorded distillation reaching back to the early fourteenth century. The Armagnac area lies in the southwest corner of France, in the historic province of Gascony.

There are three distinct growing zones for Armagnac: Bas-Armagnac, Haut Armagnac, and Tenareze. Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard are the main grapes used to make Armagnac. However, the peculiar alambic armagnacais, a form of column still that is even less efficient than a regular cognac pot still, is used for distillation.

The resultant brandy has a rustic, strong flavor and perfume that needs further barrel age to smooth it and separate it from cognac.

The greatest Armagnac is matured in Monlezun oak barrels. As adequate Monlezun wood becomes difficult to come by, Limousin and Troncais oak barrels have been added to the blend.

While most Armagnacs are mixes, single vintages and single-vineyard bottlings are available, unlike cognac. Armagnac is classified similarly to cognac (V.S., V.S.O.P., X.O., and so on; see sidebar on page 83). Blended Armagnacs sometimes have a higher proportion of older vintages than equivalent cognacs, giving them a better value for the discriminating customer.


Itinerant distillers known as bouilleurs de cru transported portable a lambic armagnacais mounted on two-wheel carts around tiny vineyards in Armagnac until the 1970s. Unfortunately, bigger fixed-in-place arrangements run by agricultural cooperatives and private operators have mostly replaced these moving stills.


Sherry houses in the city of Jerez de la Frontera, in the southwest corner of Spain, produce brandy de Jerez. Because the local sherry grapes are too precious to divert into brandy production, almost all Brandy de Jerez is created from wines produced elsewhere in Spain, especially from the Airen grape in La Mancha and Extremadura.

The majority of distillation is now done in column stills across Spain. It’s then transported to Jerez, where it’ll be aged in old sherry barrels in a solera method similar to that of sherry wine.

A solera is a sequence of big barrels (called butts), each storing a somewhat older \sspirit than the preceding one alongside it. When brandy is pulled off the final butt (no more than a third of the volume is removed), it is refilled with brandy drawn from the next butt all the way down the solera line to the first butt, where freshly distilled brandy is added.

This method of racking the brandy through a number of barrels combines a range of vintages (some soleras have more than thirty steps) and speeds up the aging process.


Basic Brandy de Jerez Solera must be aged for at least six months, one year for Reserva, and three years for Gran Reserva.

The finest Reservas and Gran Reservas are often matured for twelve to fifteen years in practice. The rich, somewhat sweet, and fruity flavors found in Brandy de Jerez are a result of the careful application of fruit-based flavor concentrates and wood essence, as well as the aging in sherry barrels (boise).


Penedès Brandy hails from the Catalan area of Penedès, which is located in the northeastern part of Spain, close to Barcelona. It is produced in pot stills and is modeled after French cognacs. It is manufactured from a blend of local grapes and the cognac grape Ugni Blanc, and it is distilled in pot stills.

In the case of Torres, the wine is aged in soleras built of butts made of French Limousin wood, whilst the other (Mascaro) matures in the traditional non-solera fashion, although also in Limousin oak. Torres is one of two local producers that manufacture wine.

In comparison to cognac, this brandy is leaner and drier than Brandy de Jerez, which is made from grapes grown in Spain.


Unlike Spain or France, Italy has a lengthy history of brandy manufacturing that dates back at least to the sixteenth century. However, unlike those countries, there are no designated brandy-producing districts in Italy.

While the vast majority of Italian brandies are manufactured from regional wine grapes, a small number of artisanal producers have begun to use pot stills to make their products.

A minimum of one to two years in oak is required, with an industry average of six to eight years being the norm for this process. Italian brandies are known for being light and delicate, with a little hint of residual sweetness in the finish.

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German monks started distilling brandy as early as the thirteenth century, and German distillers had their own guild as early as 1588, according to historical records.

Despite this, German brandy (known as weinbrand in German) has virtually always been prepared from imported wine rather of the more valued indigenous varietals since its inception. The majority of German brandies are manufactured in pot stills and must be matured in oak barrels for a minimum of six months before they may be sold.

Brandies that have been matured in oak for a minimum of one year are referred to as uralt or alter (both of which imply “older”). The greatest German brandies are smooth, somewhat lighter in body than cognac, and have a little sweetness to them at the end.


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Grape brandy manufacturing in the United States, which was formerly isolated to California until the development of contemporary artisan distilleries, may be traced back to the Spanish missions of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, according to historians.

Prior to National Prohibition, however, a significant quantity of peach brandy was produced by whiskey distillers in Southern states, and apple brandy distillation has continued on a small scale in New Jersey and Virginia to the present day.

During the years after the Civil War, brandy development blossomed into a major business, with a significant export trade to Europe established by the late nineteenth century. At one point, Leland Stanford, the founder of Stanford University, held the title of world’s biggest brandy manufacturer. In the 1920s, Phylloxera and National Prohibition came close to bringing the business to a halt.



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However, just as the bourbon business had to wait for World War II to begin, brandy makers were forced to wait even longer after the repeal of prohibition. Soon after the war ended, the industry commissioned the University of California at Davis Department of Viticulture and Oenology to produce a prototype “Californiastyle” brandy, which was completed in 1947.

Because of its clean palate and lighter taste than other European brandies, it was an excellent mixer with a flavor profile that made it a great mixer. The transition to this new form of production occurred in the late 1940s among California brandy makers.


Commercials of today Table grape types such as Thompson Seedless and Flame Tokay are used to make grape brandies in column stills in California. To reduce woodiness on the tongue, California brandies typically matured for two to twelve years in used American oak (both brandy and bourbon barrels), however, pot distillers also utilize French oak.

Several California distilleries, including Korbel, have used the Spanish solera process for brandy maturation. Quality marks such as V.S.O.P. or stars are not used in California brandies.

The more costly brands will almost always include a proportion of older vintages and pot-distilled brandies in the mix.
Craft-distilled brandies, which include grape, pomace, and fruit, were the first of the modern generation of craft spirits to enter the U.S. market, beginning in California in the late 1980s with producers like RMS (a joint venture of cognac producer Remy Martin), Jepson Vineyards, and the eccentric Santa Cruz winemaker Randall Graham at Bonny Doone Vineyards.

Germaine-Robin in Mendocino County and Osocalis in the Santa Cruz Mountains, for example, used the traditional Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Folle Blanche grapes as their foundation wine from the beginning.

They distilled it in unique cognac-style pot stills and then aged it in Limousin or Troncais wood barrels imported from France. The resultant brandies have displayed levels of complexity and taste intensity that are comparable to their European equivalents, especially when longer-aged specimens hit the market.

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Mexico produces a remarkable quantity of wine, but most of it is used to make brandy, thus it is seldom recognized outside of the nation. Thompson Seedless, Palomino, and Ugni Blanc are among the grapes used to make Mexican brandies.

In manufacturing, column and pot stills are employed, while aging is done using the solera method. Tequila and rum are being outsold by brandy in Mexico.

SOUTH AMERICA is a country in South America.

South American brandies are mostly sold in their own countries.
Pisco is the most well-known kind, a transparent, raw brandy created from Muscat grapes and twice distilled in pot stills from Peru and Chile. The resultant brandy has a fragrant aroma and may be used to make a variety of mixed cocktails, including the renowned Pisco Punch.


Greece manufactures pot-distilled brandies, many of which are flavored with Muscat wine, anise, or other spices, such as the well-known Metaxa.

Winemaking is a long-standing history in Israel, extending back thousands of years. However, brandy manufacture dates only from the 1880s, when Baron Edmond de Rothschild, a French Jewish philanthropist, founded the present Israeli wine industry.

Israeli brandy is created in the same way as cognac from Colombard grapes, with pot and column still distillation and aging in French Limousin wood barrels.

The ancient republics of Georgia and Armenia, which lie along the eastern bank of the Black Sea, rely on monastic traditions to make rich, deeply flavored pot still brandies made from native grapes as well as imported varietals like Muscadine (from France) and Sercial and Verdelho (most famously from Madeira).



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Since the advent of the first Dutch immigrants in the seventeenth century, South Africa has manufactured brandies, although these early spirits from the Cape Colony developed a reputation for being harsh firewater (witblits—white lightning—was a common term).

In the early twentieth century, the introduction of modern manufacturing processes and government controls steadily improved the quality of local brandies.

Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Chenin Blanc, and Palomino grapes are used to make modern South African brandies, which are manufactured in both pot and column stills and matured in wood for at least three years.

POMACE BRANDIES is an abbreviation for Pomace Brandies.

Poli Bassano del Grappa is a town in the province of Bassano del Grappa in Italy (Italy)
The country of Italy produces a significant quantity of grappa, both in the raw, firewater variety and in the more exquisite, artisanal efforts that are prepared from a single grape variety and packed in hand-blown glass bottles, respectively.

Grappas are available in both unaged and aged forms, with the latter being matured for a few years in oak barrels, which will soften the harsh edge of the spirit without giving much taste or color.

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Marc from France is made in all of the country’s wine-producing areas, although it is mostly enjoyed in the region where it is produced.
Marc de Gewürztraminer from Alsace is notable for retaining some of the grape’s characteristic fragrant aroma and spicy flavor, which distinguishes it from other varieties.

Grappas are pomace brandies made in the Italian style in the United States, and they are produced by producers such as Domaine Charbay in Napa County and Mosby Vineyards in Sonoma County.

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They are often referred to as grappas, even when they are made from grape varieties other than those grown in Italy. In addition, pomace brandies from Canada meet this criterion.


Pomace brandy is what the United States government refers to it as, but ever since immigrants from winemaking countries began arriving in the United States and starting to make wine, they quickly discovered that they could referment the pressed grape skins leftover from their winemaking and distill it to create a quick and simple type of brandy.

Despite the fact that the French refer to it as marc, the Italian name grappa has gained popularity among distillers of various ethnic backgrounds.

Craft distillers in the United States have been experimenting with the distillation of grappa since the beginning of the craft distilling business. Clare Creek and St. George Spirits, among other pioneer brandy distillers, have produced particular varietal grappas that are painstakingly distilled to capture the delicate aromatic nuances of the base fruit. These are spirits that are as much about pleasing the nose as they are about pleasing the palate.