The differences of Brandy, Eau de Vie and Liqueur

Brandy

A general term - Brandy is a distilled spirit produced from fermented fruit juice. Most often, the fruit is grapes—making brandy distilled wine—though apple, apricot, peach, and other fruits can be used to make brandy. It can be made anywhere in the world

Examples: Cognac, Armagnac, pisco, eau-de-vie etc

Brandy Making
Basic making method (can vary):
ferment fruit -> distilled into alcohol -> aging -> blending
The majority of brandies are bottled at 40% alcohol by volume

 

Reading Brandy Labels

V.S. : "Very Special" or 3-star; aged at least three years in wood

V.S.O.P .: "Very Superior Old Pale" or 5-star; aged at least five years in wood

X.O .: "Extra Old," Napoleon; aged at least six years, Napoleon at least four years

Vintage : Stored in the cask until the time it is bottled with the label showing the vintage date

 

 

Example

Calvados - Michel Huard - 20 years

From Normandy, North France AOC CALVADOS

Michel Huard - Seventh generations family business

Harvest of apples (20 varieties) -> ferment juice -> juice becomes cider -> distilled in column still

-> Aging in oak barrel (first in new barrels for the colour) for 20 years of ageing

Taste: Clean on the apple, floral, powerful nose; balanced with apple aromas, clear and persist for a longtime.

Best to serve as a digestif after meal

 

Eau-de-Vie

A category of brandy that is unaged and distilled from any fruit other than grapes. French for “water for life”

France is revered as the motherland of modern-day brandy, high-quality eau-de-vie also comes from Southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy etc

Traditional eaux-de-vie include pear (Poire Williams), yellow plum (mirabelle),raspberry (framboise), apricot (blume marillen), cherry (kirsch), apple (pomme) andpeach (pêche)

Eau-de-Vie Making

Depending on the fruit, there are two methods of production.

Fermentation Crushed and fermented fruit into cider before going through distillation—for stonefruit, the option is with or without the stones.

Maceration For soft fruit with lower sugar levels like raspberry, another method is to skip fermentation and instead macerate in neutral alcohol for flavour extraction.

To preserve the natural fruit characteristics, most eau-de-vie is batch-distilled in a copper pot still , typically once for macerated fruit and twice for fermented fruit .

Before bottling, the distillate is often left to “mellow” for a period, either in stainless steel tanks or glass demijohns.

 

Example

Eaux De Vie Louis Roque La Vieille Prune (old plum brandy)

From Souillac, South-West France

Louis Roque - Family distillery since 1835, moved to Souillac in 1905 One of the most reputable eau de vie from France

plums (10 different varieties) crushed -> juice fermented -> distilled (in Argmaganc method) -> aged in Limousine oak for 3-4 years

Taste: Boisterous fruit and esters burst off the nose, with vibrant oxidation and rich, nutty marzipan notes from the plum pits. The palate is deep and oaky, full of raisins and prunes.

Best to serve as a digestif after meal (prune is known for digestive virtues)

Liqueur

Sweetened spirits with various flavours, oils, and extracts added; base spirit for liqueurs can be rum, whiskey, brandy, and other liquors.

range from a low 15% ABV to a strong 55 % ABV

Can be used for making cocktails, or be enjoyed neat, chilled, or on the rocks.

Wide range of flavours, from coffee to almond to orange. There are also cream liqueurs ,like Baileys Irish Cream, and crème liqueurs , which are much sweeter and likened to a potent syrup, like crème de cacao.

 

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