Know your brandies

Brandy is an impressively old form of alcohol that has been enjoyed for centuries. Derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, which translates to “burned wine”, this rich amber liquid happens to have a burning history of its own.

Contrary to popular belief, brandy does not simply come in two varieties: strong and less strong – it turns out that there are a number of types to choose from. Next time you find yourself walking down the liquor aisle at your favourite store, be adventurous and branch into some different brandy varieties.

Brands of Brandy

Cognac: Produced in the Cognac region of France, this type of brandy is generally familiar to most. It is a grape-based spirit made according to a very particular formula. 90% of it needs to be fashioned from Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanch and/or Colombard grapes. The result is a wine that’s low in alcohol and high in acidic content, which contributes nicely to its agreeable flavour. Cognacs have proven to be a popular base ingredient for a number of cocktails.

~ Armagnac: Stronger than cognac, this spirit draws its dense flavour from the Limousin and Troncais oak barrels in which it is aged. Produced in the Gascony region of France, it is usually too strong to be mixed in cocktails but is lovely for a nightcap.

~ Spanish Brandy: Originally developed for medicinal purposes, this brandy comes from the Andalusian region of Spain. A popular Spanish variety, Brandy de Jerez, uses a solera system in its crafting which involves adding younger spirits to the older barrels while it is aging. This method contributes to its distinctly sweet taste which sets it apart from the more acidic, grape varieties.

~ Eau-de-vie: This French brandy, which translates to “water of life”, differs from other brandies first and foremost on account of its colour. It is typically colourless because it hasn’t been aged, making it a very light spirit. Made from a variety of fruits such as apple, pear, peach and yellow plum, it is commonly used as a base for liqueurs.

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