Brandies are spirits produced by distilling wines, a process only known commercially in Europe for a few centuries and are usually 40% Proof upwards.
Types of Brandy
The word itself is a shortening of " Brandywine " itself derived from the Dutch " brandewijn " literally meaning burnt wine! A variety of brandies can be found around the world but the most renowned are from Cognac and Armagnac in France or from Spain and Germany.
Brandies are great after dinner drinks and like Grand Crus Bordeaux or Burgundies prices can reach the stratosphere but unlike their distant cousins can be kept once opened for years. A cheaper humble young brandy can of cause be used to flambé dishes like crepes Suzette or a Christmas pudding.
Technically the process starts with the distiller selecting a young wine high in acidity, low in sugars, This mix will then pass through a still, in Cognac a pot still where a second distillation takes place. The second distillation brings a so-called Head, Heart and Tail.
Only the Heart, rich in aromas and flavours, will be used for fine brandies and ageing in oak casks will then add complexity and smoothness. Enjoy!