40 –50 % Alcohol By Volume
Originally named brandewijn or Dutch for “Burnt Wine.” Believed to be invented by a sailor, who accidentally stored his wine in the furnace to save space. This giving birth to Brandy. Even through cognac is brandy, all brandy is not cognac. In order for a brandy to be called a cognac, the metamorphose of grape to wine and wine to brandy must occur in the Cognac region of France.
Brandy is made by distilling fermented fruit juice, and although grape bradies such as Cognac and Armagnac are the best known types, there are many other delicious varieties. All brandies are made the same way. A mash of fruit undergoes fermentation to become a wine that is then distilled and usually aged before bottling.
Types of Brandy
Spainish Brandy is typically sweeter and bears hints of caramel. Solera brandy is aged for one year, where as Solera reserva have been matured for at least two years. Solera gran reserva are typically aged for seven years.
Armagnac is produced in the Gascony area of France. Armagnac is made from grapes in three different regions: Tenareze, which is a major producer of light brandy; Haut-Armagnac, which produces blended brandy’s; and Bas-Armagnac, which produces the best Armagnacs. There are many Armagnac’s that have a vintage year. Armagnac are made with white grapes, traditionally Ugni Blanc. Armagnacs are then aged in black oak casks.
Grappa is an Italian spirit, considered to be a fruit brandy. Grappa is an Italian brandy that is formed by distilling the residue of grapes and fruit left after the final pressing for wine.
Calvados is a fermented apple cider based brandy. Calvados is the most northern region in Normandy. Often pears and other fruit is added during the production. The fruit must be added properly in the traditional fashion and fermented for at least six weeks. Like cognac, calvados must be distilled twice, in order for it to be a true calvados. Then aged in oak for six to ten years.
Kirsch is cherry brandy made in Europe. Kirsch has more of a distinctive flavor of fruit compared to it’s brandy counterpart.
Quetsch is a pear-flavored brandy, which is produced in Alsace and Germany. Fairly distinctive in flavor because the fruit flavor is obtained by adding an extract or concentrate of the fruit.
Cognac is defined as “a grape brandy distilled in the cognac region of France”, which is entitled to be so designated by the law and regulations of the French Government. Cognac’s are aged in casks made of Limousine oak. Any Cognac’s aged less than two years will not be transported to the United States. Cognac is made with the highest quality of grape. The first, V.S. (or Very Special or Very Superior), which is aged 2.5 years, is considered to be three stars. The Second is V.S.O.P. (or Very Special (Superior) Old Pale), which is aged for 4 years, is considered to be four stars. The oldest of the Cognac’s is X.O. (or Extra Old or Napoleon), which is aged for 6 years, considered to be the highest quality. Cognac’s are dry, austere spirits with hints of fruit.