Brandy 101

Last Updated: September 19, 2023

Brandy is produced by distilling wine made from grapes. Cognac and Armagnac are the two most famous versions of Brandy. Cognac, which comes from a delimited region to the north of Bordeaux, is distilled copper pot stills and has distinct fruity and floral character. Armagnac, which comes from a delimited region to the south of Bordeaux, is made using a column still, and has a fuller body than Cognac with more fried-fruit character. By law, both styles must be aged in oak and include an indication of age on the label.

Grape brandy can be produced outside the delimited regions of Cognac and Armagnac, but these examples often have less complex character and are generally made using continuous stills.

Spain is another country that produces brandy. Typically, Spanish brandy is full-bodied with medium sweetness, and comes from the Sherry region, Brandy de Jerez. Brandy also enjoys a long and storied history in the U.S., where it has enjoyed a quiet resurgence in recent years with a number of high-quality examples hitting the market.

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