ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on January 4, 2017

Brandy is a strong alcoholic beverage distilled from the juice of fermented grapes or other fruit. The type distilled from grapes may simply be labeled "brandy." Other types must indicate the fruit that was used, such as cherry, plum, peach, and apricot.

All brandies are composed of ethyl alcohol, water, and volatile oils that provide flavor. The fermented juice, or wine, from which brandy is made is distilled either in batches in pot stills or continuously in mod­ern, or patent, stills. The brandy is then placed in oak casks to age until it is bottled.

The most famous brandies come from the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France. Cognac brandy is distilled twice in pot stills. It is amber in color, mellow in texture, and has a grape aroma. Armagnac brandy is made in a single distillation process. It has a sharper, drier taste than Cognac.

The distinction of a fine brandy depends partly on the quality of the wine used and partly on the method of distillation, but principally on the type of wood in the barrel in which it is aged. Cognac matures most satisfactorily in casks of Limousin oak. Spirits do not go on maturing after they are bottled. "Napoleon" brandy, supposedly bottled in the Napoleonic era, has acquired legendary fame. Actually, if such an ancient brandy existed, its age in the bottle would add nothing to its quality.

Most spirits today are distilled in continuous stills, but true Cognac comes from the traditional pot-still type of distillation. A pot still consists of a pot for heating the wine, a head or alembic through which the vapor passes, and a condenser to cool and condense the steam. To attain utmost purity the distillate may complete this cycle two or three times, while preserving its full flavor. In the process, the first and last runs of the brandy are discarded, and only the middle, or "heart," is retained. The spirit yielded will be between 60% and 70% alcohol by volume. This traditional Cognac method is the prototype for all good brandy making.

Real Cognac comes only from the legally delimited Cognac district in western France, which is watered by the Charente River and served by the port of La Rochelle. The principal brandy companies have their headquarters in the towns of Cognac and Jarnac. In neighboring vineyards are grown the Folle Blanche and Semillon grapes that produce the hard, acid wines from which this brandy is made. Local farmers distill their own wines and sell the raw, colorless spirit to shippers who keep it in barrels in their warehouses during the long maturing period.

Most Cognacs are blends of different vintage years and the age given on the bottle label is that of the oldest vintage, not the average age. A Cognac all of one vintage year occurs only rarely. After long aging, the tannin in the wood of the barrel will have imparted amber color as well as a distinctive flavor to the spirit. In cheaper brandies this color may be simulated by the addition of caramel, and the harsh flavor may be smothered with vanilla.

Armagnac is a heady brandy that at its best is preferred to Cognac by some connoisseurs. It comes from farther south in France, from Gas-cony, the home of Alexandre Dumas' fictitious hero d'Artagnan. The making of Armagnac, compared with the methods of the big firms in Cognac, is almost a cottage industry. The small Gascon firms share portable stills and age their distillates for a long time in barrels of Armagnac oak.

Each winegrowing country (Italy, Portugal, Spain, the United States, and many others) distills its own brandy. Well worth knowing are the apple brandies, French Calvados and American applejack, and the pungent marc of Burgundy, made from grape pomace, or residue of wine pressings. Italian grappa is a similar, if inferior, product. The pisco brandy of Peru is popular.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • multifunctions profile image

      Sanjay Sapre 

      10 years ago from India

      interesting information . one up for you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)