How Do You Make Brandy?

Still For Making BrandyMy name is Charles, I live in NC, I have been making wine for about 7 years and have made all kinds, by the way you all got a great website, what I would like to know is how do you make brandy. I looked for a brandy recipe but can’t find one. Can you help me?

Thank you
Charles
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Hi Charles,

Making brandy is more of a process than following a recipe, and it is certainly more involved than wine making, but if you’d really like to know how to make brandy…

Brandy is essentially a wine that has gone through a distillation process. Distilling is when the alcohol and certain essences are steamed off the wine and collected into a separate container. Alcohol will steam off at a lower temperature than water so by controlling the temperature it is possible to leave water behind. What you end up with is a liquid that has a much higher alcohol concentration.

This is obviously an over-simplification, but essentially this is the answer to your question: how do you make brandy? It is an additional step beyond making the wine.

The term brandy is normally related to a distilled grape wine. Cognac, for example, is a distilled grape wine. But you can also distill other types of wines to make other types of brandies. Common examples of this would be apple wine being distilled into apple brandy or peach wine being distilled into peach brandy.

Answers, how do you make brandy.Most people are surprised to know that the brandy is a clear liquid at this point. It taste a little harsh and can give off somewhat of an oily impression in the mouth. To bring the brandy to a form that you and I would recognize as brandy, it needs to be aged to some degree.

Depending on the quality and style of the brandy being made, it will need to be aged anywhere from 1 to 50 years in barrels. The toasting of the inner wall of the barrel is where the brandy will get its familiar color.

So as you can see making brandy takes some serious dedication, maybe even more so than wine making. I personally leave it to the Hennessy’s and Martell’s to bring brandy to my world.

It is important to note here that – unlike making wine – distilling an alcohol is illegal in the United States unless you have registered with the ATF. This means bringing your operation up to their rigorous code. It also involves a tremendous cash bond that basically makes it impossible to impractical for any individual to set up a operation for personal use. If you choose not follow the laws of the land then you are considered to be a moonshiner making moonshine.

If you would like to read more about distilling, including distilling brandy, we do have a book on the subject. The “Lore Of Still Building” has a lot of information about distilling principals as well as how to build various styles of stills.

Charles, I hope this answers your questions. You’re not the only person to ask, “how do you make brandy?” So, I thought this would be a good time to post this to the blog, as well.

Best Wishes,
Ed Kraus
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Ed Kraus is a 3rd generation home brewer/winemaker and has been an owner of E. C. Kraus since 1999. He has been helping individuals make better wine and beer for over 25 years.

14 thoughts on “How Do You Make Brandy?

  1. Charles, there is a real cheating way to make a type of brandy as well. My wife takes straight up vodka, adds dried fruit, (such as apricots) puts it in a closed tight bucket and puts in the closet for 6 months. I do have to admit it is tasty, what little she will ration out to me! She has only had luck with the dried fruit. Fresh didn’t work for her. After aging she even nibbles the fruit down, putting a smile on her face.

  2. What about freezing instead of steaming with a still?
    I’m making apple brandy now. Five gallons of Apple wine frozen in sanitized
    I gallon plastic jugs yields a bit more than quart per gallon.
    It keeps the apple taste & has quite a kick. A lot cheaper than a still.
    I have a 2.5 gallon oak Barrell. It is aging.
    The problem is being patient enough to let it age.
    I feel compelled to taste it to see how it is coming.

  3. Hi Charles,
    I have homemade bottled wine but don’t remember the % of alcohol therein. Is there any way of measuring the alcohol content other than using a hydrometer?
    Thank you.

  4. All this talk about making brandy is very helpful for those interested in it. However, lets remember: In the USA it is legal for an adult to make 100 gallons of wine per year (200 if head of household). This permission to make wine does NOT give permission to distill that wine into brandy. A person needs a federal permit to make distilled alcohol. So be careful plastering your name all over the Internet if you do decide to distill wine into brandy.

  5. Hi Ed, was wondering if there is away to make Brandy from the juice I have left over from making my Brandied Fruit Cakes? It takes 30 days to get the fruit aged in the sugar and juice from last years batch and this year I made 3 batches in one gallon glass jars. you drain the liquid from the brandied fruit and save it for the next batch of fruit.
    I have about 2 and ahalf gallons of the sweet syrup left and have been wanting to try to make something with it. I would like a few ideals if you have any . Thanks, Chrissy Hart

    • Chris, unfortunately, that is just too small an amount. You would have to make a still and for this amount it is just not practical.

  6. hi folks,you can make a stovetop distiller by using a pressure canner. just take off the wiggler and put on about 10 foot of surgical tubbing.run the tubbing in coils in a waterbath canner full of water and a bag of ice.put the other end of the tubbing in a jug.turn on the heat, watch it careful so ass to not boil the water when your dripping starts to get cloudy you are getting water.good luck
    good living david.

    • David,
      Speaking from serious experience, the dome or onion, should be copper, and worm (your coils) must be copper. The copper is the reactant or catalyst, if you will, that produces smooth quality liquor removing nasty tasting phenols. Most alcohols distilled below 172 degrees F, are only good as cleaning solvent and nail polish remover. These are called the heads. The heart is the premium stuff, above 185 degrees is the tails, so also garbage, like the heads. To make good quality liquor is both time consuming and expensive. I have to agree with E.K. much easier and cheaper to crack open a bottle of Hennessy, than to deal with the expense or legality.

    • Mike, Grappa is an alcoholic beverage, a fragrant, grape-based pomace brandy of Italian origin that contains 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume. Grappa is made by distilling the skins, pulp, seeds, and stems (i.e., the pomace) left over from wine-making after pressing the grapes. It was originally made to prevent waste by using these leftovers.

  7. I’m in need of a simple wine acid ph test kit and I’m having trouble finding it here
    Do you ship to Canada .
    Tanks
    Also I know you have a good selection of yeast, possibly help me to select better one’s for the grapes that I will want to use
    Tank you again

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