Originally known as ‘burnt wine’, the origins of Brandy date back to the 16th Century in Europe. Brandy is actually a shortened version of the word ‘brandywine’, which was derived from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’.
Brandy is an alcoholic beverage that is distilled from wine or a mash up of fermented fruits. Brandies are usually ages in wooden containers such as paraffin-lined casks in order to deepen the colour to an amber shade.
Brandy was known as burnt wine as it referred to the application of heat in the distillation process. One story refers to a Dutch shipmaster that started the practice when he removed the water from wine in order to provide more space in the ships limited cargo.
Though they planned to put the water back when arriving at port, when opening the casks they discovered that the beverage had completely changed in colour, aroma and taste.
Learn more about modern Brandy
In broad terms, brandy is a spirit made by distilling fruits or wine. The beverage should contain between 35 – 60% of alcohol and no more, or else it would be classified as vodka. It is commonly drunk after dinner as a digestif.
Though brandy is traditionally aged in wooden casks some add caramel colouring in order to imitate the effect of aging. There are also distillers, who like to combine the two methods for their brew.
Across the world there are a wide variety of brandies to be discovered. France has two famous brandies, the Cognac and Armagnac. The French refer to their colourless fruit brandies as Eau-de-vie, which translate to ‘water of life’ much like the translation of Whiskey.
Cognac is the world’s best known brandy, with origins that date back to the 17th Century where it was double distilled in pot stills.
There are a number of different classifications for types of brandy, as there are many different ways to make them around the world. It is also considered a luxury to have fine aged brandy as it has managed to carve a name for itself in history.
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