Brandy is distilled wine, yes you read that right. Even wine is further distilled to get brandy. You must have heard your granny tell you or your parents to drink two teaspoons of brandy neat or with warm water for the killing of cold or getting you to sleep better in the cold wintery night. It is the same brandy that you are reading about.
Brandy production varies significantly according to the area it is being produced in. Thus, resulting in many types of brandy. These brandies after distillation are stored in oak caskets to receive their beautiful natural golden or brown color. It also has various culinary uses and health benefits other than being just a traditional alcoholic beverage.
Types of Brandy
The various types of brandy known are:
1) Grape Brandy
Grape Wines are distilled and left for aging in oak casks to form Brandy. In the casks, these develop a richer flavor and a deeper essence with the earthy odor of the oak.
Its two basic types are:
- Cognac: It is a grape-based brandy that has been aged to perfection. It is made in a French state called Cognac. There is a law that states that preparing cognac outside of Cognac is a punishable offense. There are specific rules regarding the selection of grapes and the aging process which have been laid for the production of this special brandy called cognac. It has around 40% alcohol by its volume.
- Armagnac: A slightly stronger Grape brandy with around 46 – 48% alcohol content, Armagnacs are also named after the French region they are made in. Premium Armagnacs ranging from up to 50 years old are also available in French stores.
2) American Brandy
These are very similar to cognacs in taste, but as there are no strict rules for sticking to a particular variety; thus, the flavors may differ with the selection of every grape variety chosen for the fermentation. These brandies are way cheaper than all the other available types of brandy.
3) Brandy De Jerez
A Spanish Brandy though not heard of much but is robust and bold in its flavor. It has beautiful notes of nuts and fruits in its taste. It uses techniques like sherry, where previously fermented wines are continuously added to new batches to enhance the flavor and quality. These brandies are unique in themselves.
A French brandy distilled from fresh and juicy apples. It gets its scent from the fruit but, the caramelized apple taste, which comes from aging with oak, is its highlight. Just like other French Alcohols, these are also strictly supervised and named accordingly.
5) Apple Jack
Apple brandies much like the Calvados but, made in America. Many apple brandies of America give the Calvados a tough run for its money though they are much cheaper than the French versions.
A light yellow variety of brandy which falls in the pomace category. The Peruvian brandies are light and have no oak flavors or aromas, as at times they are aged for as low as a few months in chemically inert containers.
While the Chilean Piscos are still linked to particular oak-like flavors and can be diluted before bottling. They are very similar in taste to white rum.
7) Eaux- de- Vie
When a fermented wine is distilled and bottled for use with no further aging, it is then called Eaux-de-vine. Usually a clear liquid, much like vodka. The fermented wine used may or may not be of grapes.
8) Pomace Brandy
Once the juice is secreted from the grapes, the pulp and peel left are further pressed to release the remaining juice, which is fermented also to receive pomace wines which are distilled to get pomace brandy. These brandies may or may not be distilled at all. As these secreted juices of leftover grapes; thus, they are not as smooth as other varieties; instead, these are textured and bold brandies.
9) Fruit Brandy
When fruits except grapes are used for making brandy, then they are called fruit brandies. Fruits like apples, plums, and berries are commonly used for these wines. Apart from berries, all other brandies are made by first using the fermented juices of these fruits.
As berries are citric and lack sugars; thus, fermentation does not yield as much alcohol, and so the berries are soaked in alcohol before the process is initiated.
10) Regional Brandies
Many areas in the world specifically produce certain brandies that are specific to their regions like the cognacs, and Armagnacs are limited to France. Certain U.S.A varieties are so unique in taste and are limited to certain distilleries only.
Types of brandy commonly available over the counter are:
1) Courvoisier cognac: A French brandy perfect for reliving you off your daily work stress.
2) Remy Martin Cognac: As the name says, it is a famous cognac brewed in the heart of the Cognac city. These have a unique design, and so is the flavor-rich and deep.
3) Mc Dowells VSOP: A reasonably young cognac and is still on its trail to popularity.
4) Dreher: An Italian native with its significant reputation in India. It is a classic brandy that is aged to perfection.
5) Honey Bee: Famous majorly across the globe, the honey bee brandy is also brewed in Bangalore.
6) Mc Dowell’s No.1: This brand has made its place in the market by itself. It is an Indian based brand with its breweries are located in Bangalore.
7) Hennessy: A cognac or brandy, which the king of its class. It is the best brandy brand sold across the globe.
8) John Ex Shaw: It is a French brandy which is neither a cognac nor an Armagnac and is known for its rich flavor.
If you get into the study of brandy, you will realize it is an essential part of medical history as well, but only as long as consumed in small doses, just like medicines. It is known to benefit in the prevention of respiratory diseases. It is also known to boost your immune system and improve your cardiac health.
Certain compounds present in this alcoholic beverage are also known to curb the growth of cancer in your body. But, just like all other alcohols, addiction can be developed. Thus it is better to consume it as a medicine, as and when needed, and avoid it as and when you can to make sure you are using it in adequate quantity and not getting addicted to it.