brandy [for brandywine, from Du., = burnt, i.e., distilled, wine], strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine or from marc, the residue of the wine press. The most noted brandy is cognac, made from white grapes in the Charente district of France. The label Cognac, fine champagne denotes the finest type of cognac, which comes from a small area around Cognac. Brandy is manufactured commercially in other districts of France, notably Armagnac, and in Spain, Portugal, Australia, Italy, South Africa, and the United States. Most fine brandies are distilled in pot stills constructed to retain the volatile ingredients. The product is blended and flavored, then stored in casks (preferably oak), where it mellows and takes on a yellow color; it acquires a deeper tint from long storage or the addition of caramel syrup. Brandy marketed in the United States must be matured in cask for at least four years. Brandy made from marc is very potent and is inferior to wine brandy. Liquor distilled from fermented beets, grains, or sugarcane is sometimes called brandy. The term, qualified by the name of a fruit, is applied to spirits distilled from the fermented juice of fruits other than the grape, e.g., peach brandy, cherry brandy, and plum brandy (slivovitz), which is extensively manufactured in the Balkans.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.