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Brandy vs Whiskey: First-Timer’s Guide (2022 UPDATED)

Fine drinkers can easily distinguish the difference between Brandy vs Whiskey. However, when it comes to distinguishing spirits, non-drinkers can get confused about these two fine spirits. 

With this, our team spent 48 hours researching to help you understand the similarities and differences between Brandy and Whiskey. 

Whiskey or Brandy: Which is Better?

Whiskey and brandy are the two most common liquors that can be hardly distinguished, especially if you are new to drinking. 

Whiskey or Brandy: Which is Better?

Whiskey and brandy have a fair share of advantages that can make the spirit better than the other. Aside from being an enjoyable alcohol, brandy has been used for health care, especially in the 20th century [1]. On the other hand, whiskey also has potential health benefits because it has no carbohydrates or sugar [2]

Let’s take a closer look at their similarities and differences to compare which is better. 

What Is Brandy?

What is Brandy? 

History

Brandy, short for Brandywine, started way back in the 15th century when winemakers tried to distill wines to cut down transportation costs. Brandy came from the Dutch word “branwijin,” which means burnt wine that refers to the drink’s distillation process. 

Ingredients

Brandy is made from  fermented wine, special grapes, or dried fruit that produce sugary juice. The common brandy is made from the fermented fruit juice of mashed grapes or distilled wine made from grapes. 

Age & Distillation

The age, fermentation process, and distillation of the brandy determine the color of the brandy. The darker the brandy is, the older it is. In addition, the age of the brandy defines its quality which starts at two years. The distilled alcoholic beverage uses large pot stills as its distillation technique. 

What is Whiskey?

What is Whiskey? 

History

Whiskey was produced first in Scotland and Ireland not later than the 15th century before being available worldwide. The name Brandy was derived from Gaelic “uisge beatha,” which means water of life. The spirit is aged in charred oak barrels to achieve its flavor and golden brown or amber color. 

Ingredients

Whiskeys are made from fermented grain mash. In addition, there are different types of spirits made from the fermented mash of other grains like barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn.

Age & Distillation

Whiskeys are mostly distilled twice with the use of a pot still or column still. After being a distilled product, it is now aged in wooden barrels for some time. The longer it stays inside the barrel, the more its color becomes darker, and the minimum maturity for whiskeys is at three years.  

Are They Similar?

Are they Similar?

Brandy and whiskey both have a long history that started in the 15th century. Another similarity they share is that they both use aged ingredients. They convert sugar from fermented grain and fruit to ethanol that gives spirits their alcohol content. In addition, both drinks must be distilled in pot stills and aged in wooden barrels for years. 

Their Differences

Ingredients

Brandy and Rum use fermented fruit juice, while Whiskey, Bourbon, and Scotch use fermented grain mash. Most brandies are grape brandy which is mainly because their base ingredients are grapes. On the other hand, Whiskey uses cereal grains from barley, malted barley, malted rye, wheat, and corn. What’s the real difference between brandy and bourbon?

Flavor

Brandy has a lighter and sweet flavor like caramel compared to Whiskey. Some brandies have flavors like caramel, vanilla, banana, fig, and prune, making them ideal after-dinner drinks.

Flavor

On the other hand, Whiskey has a stronger flavor spirit from grain, oak, tobacco, and malt. Some whiskies do have a spicy and cinnamon finish.  

Market & Trade

When it comes to market and trade, both drinks of different brands are widely available on the market. However, Whiskey can be made worldwide, but it is more popular in Scotland, Canada, Ireland, and the US. Irish Whiskey, Tennessee Whiskey, and American Whiskey are some Whiskies famous in the alcohol market. 

Aging Process

Whiskies age on the wooden barrel for a minimum of 3 years, while brandies can be matured for two years. While both of them are aged in old casks, Whiskey does not mature on bottles. The aging process determines the quality of the distilled liquor. The liquors are aged in casks for years before being put in a bottle. 

Labels & Classifications

Not all brandy denotes age by numbers and usually uses VS, VSOP, and XO like the Ugni Blanc.

Labels & Classifications

However, Whiskey’s labels are straightforward. They classify and label their liquor according to its age. 

FAQs 

Is cognac a whiskey or brandy?

Cognac is a well-known French Brandy from a specific region in France. To be a Cognac Whiskey, the production and the ingredients must be exclusive from the Cognac region in France. 

Which tastes better, brandy or whiskey?

Whiskies taste better than brandy. Brandy, which is known for its sweet taste, can be too sweet for a liquor drinker. On the other hand, Whiskies have a rough touch of alcohol with a smooth flavor. 

In Summary 

While there are similarities in the two spirits, there is a vast difference between the two liquors. In other words, separate drinks have a distinct flavor, texture, ingredients, and aging methodology. 

If you want a light, sweet and fruity liquor, Brandy can be your go-to drink, especially as an after-dinner drink. However, Cognac and Whiskeys are well-liked by many because of their unique and smooth flavor. 

Whichever spirit you prefer, we hope it will now be easier to distinguish Brandy vs Whiskey. 

References:

  1. https://greatist.com/eat/benefits-of-brandy#possible-benefits 
  2. https://www.webmd.com/diet/whiskey-good-for-you#1 

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