Discover how to make brandy with our simple step-by-step guide.
Brandy is one the most popular after dinner drinks. It is also a fine drink for happy occasions and many love to sip brandy while enjoying a cigar.
The classic way to enjoy a well aged brandy is at room temperature in a brandy snifter glass. The drinker will hold the snifter in the palm of their hand, warming the brandy and releasing the aromas of the brandy.
Brandy is also used in many other drinks, replacing whiskey in some cases.
The name brandy originates from the Dutch word brandewijn, which means “burnt wine”. Which is fitting as it is distilled from wine or a fermented fruit mash.
What Is Brandy?
Brandy is produced when you are distilling wine and generally has a 35-60% alcohol by volume content.
After distilling brandy is aged in wooden casks or some are coloured with caramel colouring. Colorants can eliminate the effect of aging the brandy. You also get brandy that is a combination of aging and colouring.
The most famous wine brandies are the Cognac and Armagnac which originated from the southwestern parts of France.
What Is The Difference Between Brandy And Cognac?
Cognac is made from white grapes, from only one of six different terroirs (the perfect growing conditions for these grapes - soil, climate and topography).
The Ugni Blanc grape is the primary grape used and the grapes from the “Grande Champagne '' terroir are also favourable. And the liquid must be distilled twice during the 1st of October to 31st of March.
Brandy can be distilled from grapes or any fruit, like Calvados which is an apple brandy from the Normandy region in France. As long as the fruit is able to ferment it can be used to make brandy. Brandy also comes from anywhere in the world, not like Cognac which is from France.
What is the Best Still to Make Brandy?
How To Make Your Own Brandy
It is entirely possible to make your own brandy at home. Making a quality spirits will however take some practice and patience.
- 30kg Grapes - Preferably white Muscat grapes
- 2.5kg Sugar (Optional)
- 4 Liters Water
- Oak chips or a barrel
Step 1 - Separate grapes from the stems and crush. Not wash the grapes as their surface contains wild wine yeast. Pour this into an enamel or plastic container. Add sugar, ratio 1kg sugar to 10 liters of crushed grapes. Add water, ratio 1 liter per 7.5kg of grapes. Stir all contents together. Clever with cloth and leave for 4 days in a warm, dark place.
The pulp should be floating after 12-18 hours, this will prevent fermentation. You must stir it at least 2-3 per day. Stir the contents on the first day of fermentation otherwise the wine will go sour.
After 4 days the contents will have fermented and have a wine sent. Strain the liquid through cheesecloth, be careful not to crush the seeds. Pour liquid in containers and add sugar, ratio 1kg per 10 liters. (Sugar is optional)
You can now add your yeast to the grape juice mixture. It is important to note that there shoulndt be a huge difference in the yeast temperature and the temperature of your mixture. If there is a large temperature difference, your yeast can die. You can springle yeast on top of your mixture or stirr it in.
Only fill containers up to a 70% capacity. You need to leave space for the carbon dioxide and foam. Seal with an airlock and put it in a dark place with a temperature ranging from 18-27°C. Fermentation should last for about 18-40 days (all depends on yeast and temperature). Sediment will form at the bottom and once it is clearer it is ready for the next step.
Note: The amount of water and sugar all depends on the grape juice and sugar content, and the acidity. If grapes are sweet you can leave the sugar. Then you will get a pure wine spirit.
Step 2 - Strain liquid through cheesecloth and run a quick distillation, no harmful substances will then be produced. Stop collecting once the proof number is below 30 degrees.
Dilute the distillate with water to 20% and run a second distillation. On the third run remove the first 5% of the liquid that is produced because this contains lots of ethanol and can be deadly. Collect the rest of the distillate until ABV drops below 45%.
Step 3 - Now it is time to infuse the collected distillate with oak. There are two ways this can be done. Purchase an oak barrel or infusing liquid with oak pegs or chips. The second option is much cheaper and easier.
Clean and prep the wood. Add the wood to the jars, at least 20-30 pieces in each bottle.
Dilute the distillate to 42-45 % ABV. Pour this brandy spirit into the bottles with the oak. Seal the bottles and leave for at least 6-12 months in a cellar or cold dark place. The longer the infusion the better the quality.
Step 4 - This step is optional. For a better caramel color in your spirits, you can add caramel. Add 50 grams per 3 liters of spirits. The reseal with a cork and age for another 7-10 days.
Lastly strain the liquid through a cotton wool layer and bottle it.
Finally your brandy is ready to enjoy.
Which Is The Best Brandy?
The most famous and popular brandy is the Cognac, specifically Hennesy. Another popular one is the Armagnac brandy. Both of these come from the south western areas of France.
Calvados, an apple brandy originated from Normandy and Spain has Brandy de Jerez.
Then you also try the Obstler brandy, they are from the Alpine regions of Austria and Picso comes from Peru and Chile.
All of these brandies are unique and popular in their own way and there. There are a huge variety of brands out there to try and this fine tasting beverage is made in a great many countries across the globe.
What Are The Ingredients Used To Make Brandy?
Brady is made from the wine of grapes or from other fruits. These are then fermented and distilled. You can use any fruit that is able to ferment.
Fruit brandies are lighter in flavour and fresh, very often used in cooking. Your grape brandies are normally richer and fuller in flavour, and they are best enjoyed at room temperature.
As you can see brandy takes time, practice, and skill. But learning to make your very own brandy at home is a fun and rewarding process. When you understand the effort involved in producing a qulity brandy, it makes you appreciate these fine beverages so much more.