Brandy is a distilled spirit, which is produced through the distillation of wine and fruit ‘eaux de vie’, the name itself is derived from the Dutch work brandewijin, which means ‘burned wine’. Brandy was discovered accidentally via the distillation of wine used as a method not only to preserve wine but also to make it easier for merchants to transport in the 16th Century.
The water removed by distillation was intended to be added back to the wine prior to consumption; it was, however, discovered that the distillation had improved the taste of the wine significantly and so Brandy was discovered. After distillation, un-aged brandy is placed in oak barrels to mature; after a period of aging, which depends on the variety, classification and legal requirements, mature brandy is mixed with distilled water to reduce the alcohol concentration prior to bottling.
Brandy is considered a ‘digestif’ or after-dinner drink, which varies between 35% and 60% alcohol by volume. It’s caramel-coloured spirit is generally achieved in higher quality brandies by aging in wooden casks, by adding caramel colouring (in lower quality brandies) or by a combination of both methods. Brandy is traditionally served, at room temperature in a tulip or a snifter glass. It can also be enjoyed in popular cocktails, the most popular of which are the Brandy Sour and the Old Fashioned.
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