According to The Devil's Dictionary, written by Ambrose Bierce in 1906, brandy is a "cordial composed of one part thunder-and-lightning, one part remorse, two parts bloody murder, one part death-hell-and-the-grave and four parts clarified Satan." We only wish it were that that simple.
Brandy can be a bit convoluted so we've boiled it down to ensure you get the most out of this unique cordial. Basically, there are three main styles of brandy to be aware of:
Grape brandies like Cognac, Armagnac, and bottles simply labeled "brandy", are made from blends of distilled wine. They come with their own special age designations:
• V.S. ("Very Special" or "3-Star"): The youngest eau-de-vie (alcoholic drink obtained by distillation) in the blend is at least 2 years old.
• V.S.O.P. ("Very Special Old Pale"): The youngest eau-de-vie is at least 4 years old.
• Napoleon, X.O. (Extra Old), Hors d'Age: The youngest eau-de-vie is at least 6 years old.
Fruit brandies including, France's apple-based Calvados and the Balkans' plum-based slivovitz, are distilled from any fruit or blend of fruits excluding grapes. And finally:
Pomace brandies like Italian grappa or Spanish orujo, are made from pomace-- the remains of crushed and pressed grapes.
Whichever brandy you end up of drinking, always justify your decision with Samuel Johnson’s wise words: "Claret is the liquor for boys; port, for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy."
Do you have a favorite time or place to enjoy a brandy? Tell us about it below.