What is Brandy?

 In Blog, What is?

The word brandy is derived from the Dutch – “brandewijn” – “burnt wine”, a simplistic description of the boiling of wine in the distillation process. Brandy is an agricultural spirit, distilled from (fruit) wine – fermented juice without skins, stems or residual pulp.

Grapes are the defacto standard fruit for brandy but many types of fruits including apples, peaches, plums, pears, or cherries can be used. If the fruit is anything other than grape, it must be marked on the label.

Brandy is frequently aged in oak casks that help mellow the flavor and adds additional aromas and flavor from the wood itself. Brandy that is aged less than two years is called ‘immature’ or unaged brandy and an age statement is required on the label. Brandy that is aged over two years is considered ‘mature’ and may or may not contain an age statement on the label.

Some brandies, are aged using the solera system, where the producer changes the barrel each year. After a period of aging, which depends on the style, class and legal requirements, the mature brandy is mixed with distilled water to reduce alcohol concentration and bottled. The final brandy is generally reduced to 70 – 120 proof.

Many countries have their own version of brandy that come from a specific geographic location like Cognac that comes from the Cognac region of France or Armagnac that comes from the Armagnac region in Gascony, southwest France.

Stay Informed: Sign up here for the Distillery Trail free email newsletter and be the first to get all the latest news, trends, job listings and events in your inbox.

Here is the full TTB description of Brandy.

Class General Class Definition Type General Type Definition
BRANDY Spirits distilled from the fermented juice, mash or wine of fruit or from its residue at less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof) having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to brandy and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)  FRUIT BRANDY · Brandy distilled solely from the fermented juice or mash of whole, sound, ripe fruit or from standard fruit wine, with or without the addition of not more than 20 percent by weight of the pomace of such juice or wine or 30 percent by volume of the lees of such wine or both. Such brandy may include up to 30% on a proof gallon basis of lees brandy. · “Brandy” is grape brandy. Other types of fruit brandy must be further identified e.g. “Peach Brandy” · Grape brandy must be stored in oak containers for a minimum of 2 years
PISCO¹ Peruvian grape brandy stored in other than oak containers
APPLEJACK OR APPLE BRANDY¹ Type of FRUIT BRANDY made from apples
KIRSCHWASSER¹ Type of FRUIT BRANDY made from cherries
SLIVOVITZ¹ Type of FRUIT BRANDY made from plums
IMMATURE BRANDY¹ Grape brandy stored in oak containers for less than 2 years
COGNAC¹ Grape brandy distilled in the Cognac region of France in compliance with the laws and regulations of the French Government
ARMAGNAC¹ Grape brandy distilled in the Armagnac region of France in compliance with the laws and regulations of the French Government
CALVADOS¹ Apple brandy distilled in the Calvados region of France in compliance with the laws and regulations of the French Government
DRIED FRUIT BRANDY Fruit brandy distilled from sound, dried fruit or from the standard wine of such fruit · For brandies of this type (except RAISIN BRANDY, see below), the word “Brandy” must be qualified with the name of the fruit from which made preceded by the word “dried,” e.g., “Dried Apricot Brandy”
RAISIN BRANDY¹ Type of DRIED FRUIT BRANDY made from raisins BRANDY Spirits distilled from the fermented juice, mash or wine of fruit or from its residue at less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof) having the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to brandy and bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof)
LEES BRANDY¹ · Brandy distilled from the lees or sediment from fermentation of fruit wine · “Lees Brandy” is grape lees brandy. Other types of lees brandy must be further identified, e.g., “Cherry Lees Brandy”
POMACE BRANDY OR MARC BRANDY¹ · Brandy distilled from the skin and pulp of sound, ripe fruit after the withdrawal of the juice or wine · “Pomace Brandy” or “Marc Brandy” is grape pomace or marc brandy. Other types of pomace or marc brandy must be further identified, e.g., “Apple Pomace Brandy,” “Pear Marc Brandy”
GRAPPA OR GRAPPA BRANDY¹ Type of POMACE BRANDY made from grapes
RESIDUE BRANDY¹ · Brandy distilled wholly or in part from the fermented residue of fruit or wine · “Residue Brandy” is grape residue brandy. Other types of residue brandy must be further identified, e.g., “Orange Residue Brandy”
NEUTRAL BRANDY¹ · Any type of brandy, e.g., “Fruit Brandy,” “Residue Brandy,” etc., distilled at more than 85% alcohol by volume (170 proof) but less than 95% alcohol by volume (190 proof) · “Neutral Brandy” is grape neutral brandy. Other types of neutral brandy must be further identified, e.g., “Neutral Plum Brandy,” “Neutral Citrus Residue Brandy”
SUBSTANDARD BRANDY¹ · Brandy: (a) distilled from the fermented juice, mash or wine having a volatile acidity calculated, exclusive of water added to facilitate distillation, as acetic acid and exclusive of sulfur dioxide, in excess of 0.2 gram per 100 cubic centimeters (20 degrees C.) (b) distilled from unsound, moldy, diseased or decomposed juice, mash, wine, lees, pomace or residue or which possesses any taste, aroma or characteristic associated with products distilled from such material · “Substandard Brandy” is grape substandard brandy. Other types of substandard brandy must be further identified, e.g., “Substandard Fig Brandy”
BLENDED APPLEJACK OR APPLEJACK – A BLEND¹ Mixture of at least 20% on a proof gallon basis apple brandy that has been stored in oak containers for not less than 2 years and not more than 80% on a proof gallon basis neutral spirits, bottled at not less than 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) NO TYPE UNDER THIS CLASS
LIQUEUR/ CORDIAL¹ Flavored spirits product containing not less than 2½% by weight sugar, dextrose, levulose or a combination thereof made by mixing or redistilling any class or type of spirits with or over fruits, flowers, plants or pure juices therefrom or other natural flavoring materials or with extracts derived from infusions, percolation or maceration of such materials ROCK AND BRANDY¹ Liqueur/Cordial with the predominant characteristic flavor of brandy made with grape brandy as the exclusive distilled spirits base, rock candy or sugar syrup and with or without the addition of fruit, fruit juices or other natural flavoring materials, bottled at not less than 24% alcohol by volume (48 proof). Wine may be used but if used may not exceed 2½% by volume of the finished product
BRANDY LIQUEUR/BRANDY CORDIAL¹ · Liqueur/Cordial with the predominant characteristic flavor of brandy made with brandy as the exclusive distilled spirits base, bottled at not less than 30% alcohol by volume (60 proof). Wine may be used but if used may not exceed 2½% by volume of the finished product · “Brandy Liqueur” or “Brandy Cordial” is grape brandy liqueur/cordial. Other types of brandy liqueurs/cordials must be specifically identified, e.g. “Cherry Brandy Liqueur,” “Peach Brandy Cordial”
FLAVORED BRANDY¹ · Brandy flavored with natural flavoring materials, with or without the addition of sugar, bottled at not less than 30% alcohol by volume (60 proof) · The name of the predominant flavor shall appear as part of the class and type designation e.g. “Apricot Flavored Brandy” · Wine may be added up to 15% by volume of the finished product provided at least 12½% of the wine is derived from the base commodity that corresponds to the labeled flavor of the product. If not, or if the wine addition exceeds 15% by volume of the finished product the classes and/or types and percentages (by volume) of the wine must be stated as part of the class and type designation NO TYPE UNDER THIS CLASS
IMITATION DISTILLED SPIRITS · Any class and/or type of distilled spirits (except cordials, liqueurs and specialties marketed under labels which do not indicate or imply that a particular class and/or type of distilled spirits was used in their manufacture) to which has been added any whisky essence, brandy essence, rum essence or similar essence or extract which simulates or enhances or is used in the particular product to simulate or enhance the characteristics of any class and/or type of distilled spirits · Any brandy made from distilling material to which sugar (other than the kind and amount expressly authorized in the production of standard wine) has been added · Any brandy, except blended applejack, to which neutral spirits or distilled spirits other than brandy have been added SPECIFIC CLASS OR TYPE TO WHICH DISTILLED SPIRITS WOULD OTHERWISE BELONG, E.G., “IMITATION RUM”¹
Resource: TTB Chapter 4, Class and Type Designation

Sufficient as class and type designation ONLY for Grape Brandy

Brandy made by blending two or more specific types of brandies must be identified as “Brandy” followed by the percentage of (determined on a proof gallon basis) and name of each specific type of brandy, e.g., “Brandy, 25% Dried Pear Brandy, 75% Lees Brandy”

Percentages are not required if the brandy is derived from:
 --2 specific types of brandies and neither contributes less than 40% of the alcohol on a proof gallon basis
 --3 specific types of brandies and each contributes at least 30% of the alcohol on a proof gallon basis
 --4 specific types of brandies and each contributes at least 20% of the alcohol on a proof gallon basis

Fruit Brandy derived from two or more fruits must be identified as “Fruit Brandy” followed by the percentage of (determined on a proof gallon basis) and name of each fruit from which the brandy was made, e.g., “Fruit Brandy, 30% Apple Brandy, 70% Cherry Brandy”

Percentages are not required if the Fruit Brandy is derived from:
 --2 fruits and neither contributes less than 40% of the alcohol on a proof gallon basis
 --3 fruits and each contributes at least 30% of the alcohol on a proof gallon basis
 --4 fruits and each contributes at least 20% of the alcohol on a proof gallon basis

See footnote 7; these provisions also apply to Dried Fruit Brandy

1 Sufficient as class and type designation. For Sambuca produced outside of Italy, the class and type designation “Sambuca” must include the word “type” or “American” or other adjective indicating the true place of production

Please help to support Distillery Trail. Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter.

Share Your Opinion

Recommended Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt

Start typing and press Enter to search

X
X