Brandy is an alcoholic beverage that is made through the
distilling of wine. The word brandy is
derived from the word brandewjin, a
Dutch term which means ‘burned wine’ as the wine liquor undergoes distillation
process to produce a spirit that is exquisite and highly enjoyable. The truth is brandies are widely popular as
drinks consumed after-dinner. Nearly all
brandies are 80% proof or 40% alcohol percentage.
There are generally three types of brandy – grape, pomace,
and fruit. Grape is made through the
distilling of wine; pomace is made using leftover pulp, seeds, stems, and skin
from wine production with the term being known differently in different places;
fruit on the other hand is basically the adding for different fruits to create
The distillation process is very important in the making of
brandy. This is because by following a
gentler and slower method, they are able to let out aromatic flavors and
elements within the raw materials of the wine.
Think of it as boiling fruit at low flames and high flames. The high flame cooks the material quickly,
while the low flame allows the intense aroma and flavor of the fruit out, thus
achieving a more aromatic soup. This is
similar to the distilling of brandy.
Even though the process in making brandy differs with each distillery,
they all follow the slower and gentler method.
There are four steps needed in the making of brandy:
1. Fermentation – this is the fermenting for fruit
so that the yeast can turn sugar into alcohol.
2. Distillation – this is the process wherein the
fermented juice from the fruit is distilled in order to get the spirit.
3. Aging – after distillation, the spirit is aged
in wooden oak barrels. This is the
process which can differentiate the qualities of other brandies from each
other. The type of oak used, the
temperature in which the aging brandy is stored, and the length of time the
brandy is aged all determines the quality and outcome of the brandy.
4. Blending – this is mostly done for production
and it is performed so as to blend the brandy to taste.
Differentiating the Brandy
When you buy brandy, it is important that you understand the
different rating systems given to each product so you will be able to discern
the different qualities and conditions based on the indicators they are labeled
– this denotes that the brandy has been aged 2 years on wooden oak barrels.
· V.S. – this
means ‘very special’ and denotes that the brandy has been aged 3 years on
wooden oak barrels.
– this means ‘very special old pale’ and denotes that the brandy has been aged
5 years on wooden oak barrels.
· X.O. – this
means ‘extra old’ and denotes that the brandy has been aged for not less than 6
years on wooden oak barrels.
· Vintage –
the brandy is stored on wooden oak barrels until bottling time. The vintage date is shown on the label.
· Hors D'age – this means ‘beyond age.’ These types of brandies have been aged
very long and serve as a mark for high quality product that is beyond the
official age scale.
Visit RSA Course Guide for additional information on spirits and alcoholic beverages.