Brandy is a spirit mostly made by distilling wine. The name comes from a Dutch word, brandewijn, which means “burned wine.” Two of the best-known and indeed best types of brandy, whose production is governed by strict rules, are Cognac and Armagnac, both from France. So, all Cognac is brandy but not all brandy is Cognac. Many wine-growing regions of the world also produce brandy, and the flavors vary according to both the types of grape used for the wine and the differing production processes. Most U.S. brandy comes from California. Brandy is also used as an ingredient in spirits such as Metaxa, a Greek spirit. A distinct type of brandy is fruit brandy, which is made from fruit juice, wine, or pulp from fruit other than grapes. Grappa, common in Italy, and the South American spirit called pisco are also types of brandy.

Top Brandy Posts:

How Is Brandy Made?
Hine Rare, Homage, Antique, and H by Hine
Paul Masson Grande Amber VS Brandy

Review: Gran Sierpe Pisco Quebranta Grapes

By Christopher Null | July 18, 2009 |

Distilled in Chile and Peru — where the definition of what is “real” pisco remains a national preoccupation on both sides — pisco is grape brandy that, unlike French brandies, is unaged (or aged very little), and generally used in cocktails. Gran Sierpe is Peruvian pisco, and the company makes three varieties, using three different…

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Review: Clear Creek Pear Brandy

By Christopher Null | June 23, 2009 |

Pear brandy certainly doesn’t get a whole lot of play in the spirits business. But I guess pears don’t get a lot of play in the produce department, either. Tis a pity. Clear Creek (which makes a stellar Oregon whiskey) offers this classic Poire William, made from crushed whole Bartlett pears from its own orchards,…

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Review: Mathilde Orange XO Liqueur

By Christopher Null | June 7, 2009 |

The Cognac Ferrand brand doesn’t just sell its cognac on its own, it also mixes the spirit with fruit infusions to create cognac-based liqueurs. We tried the company’s Orange XO, one of five liqueurs the company sells. For starters, this is a dark, 80-proof spirit that’s in the Grand Marnier family (not the Cointreau/triple sec…

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Review: “B&B” Brandy & Benedictine

By Christopher Null | May 31, 2009 |

When I was a kid my dad had THE coolest bottle of booze on the planet. Actually it was two bottles, fused into a single decanter: Benedictine on one side, B&B (a blend of brandy and Benedictine) on the other, each with its own spout. Coolest thing on earth to look at, but not once…

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Review: Martell Exquisite L’Or de Jean Martell Cognac

By Christopher Null | May 14, 2009 |

We’ve reviewed rare spirits before, but Martell’s Exquisite L’Or de Jean Martell cognac is to date the absolute rarest: Just 120 bottles are being sold. We got a taste — not much, mind you — but enough for a serious review. And my how quickly that went down. The 80-proof Martell’s Exquisite L’Or is, indeed,…

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Review: Domaine du Tariquet Armagnacs – Blanche, Green Label, and XO (2009)

By Christopher Null | May 10, 2009 |

Arguably the oldest spirit-making region in France, Armagnac is Cognac’s bigger, sometimes crueler brother. Armagnac is located just a bit south of the Cognac region in western France, and like Cognac, it is the home — and the only home — of a distilled spirit that bears its name. Like cognac (the spirit), armagnac brandy…

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Review: Bache-Gabrielsen Classic XO Cognac

By Christopher Null | April 25, 2009 |

A Double Gold winner at this year’s San Francisco International Spirits Competition, Bache-Gabrielsen’s XO is a relative newcomer to the Cognac world, launched officially only in 1996, a wee babe in this rarefied industry. Blended from 72 percent Grande Champagne grapes and 28 percent Petite Champagne, then aged for about 20 years, this is a…

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Esquire’s Best Cheap Booze

By Christopher Null | January 22, 2009 |

I expect to see lots of recession-minded lifestyle coverage in the upcoming months. Esquire magazine doesn’t disappoint with this roundup of the best cheap spirits — stuff that’s affordable but which you wouldn’t mind actually serving to guests. The winners: Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP brandy, Brugal Anejo rum, White Horse Scotch, Gordon’s gin, and…

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Original Recipe: Midnight at the Oasis

By Christopher Null | January 1, 2009 |

This cocktail was born from looking for something to make with St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, a pungent liqueur that immediately overpowers just about anything you add it to. Tread lightly. Midnight at the Oasis 2 oz. brandy 1/4 oz. St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram 1/4 oz. Licor 43 1/4 oz. Damiana 2 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb…

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Drinkhacker’s 2008 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 28, 2008 |

What better gift is there than a bottle of booze? Not only will your giftee think you’re incredibly sophisticated, chances are he’ll let you drink a good amount of it before he realizes his terrible mistake. What’s the best booze to put under the tree this Christmas season? Of course you want to offer something…

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