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How Do You Make Brandy? Full Guide (2023 Updated)

How Do You Make Brandy

Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Lydia Martin

People say brandy helps digestion and relaxes your muscles after a long tiring day. Technically, brandy is just distilled wine, but the delightful aroma is enough to persuade you to get a bottle. 

So how do you make brandy at home? Read on and find out.

4 Steps In Making Brandy 

4 Steps In Making Brandy 

1. Gather The Materials Needed

Making Wine

  • 1.5 kilos of fruits of your choice (should be during peak season)
  • 2 kilos sugar
  • 2 tablespoons active dry/wine yeast
  • 6 cups of water (cold)
  • Jars with a tight lid (NOT plastic)
  • Large glass jar
  • Stone crock or glass bowl where all fruits would fit
  • Plate (for cover)
  • Potato masher or long-handled spoon
  • Cheesecloth or strainer

Distilling Wine

  • Pot still
  • Dutch oven or oven-friendly pots that would fit your still
  • Glass container (Never use plastic, and it should be dry and clean)
  • Bottles or glass jars with a tight lid for storage
  • A gas burner or stove
  • Chips of oak

2. Select The Best Seasonal Fruit


One of the reasons why you should choose seasonal fruits is that the price is lower during peak season. Second, you can buy as many as you want since there is an abundance. Lastly, the taste is at its best since they are fresh and are picked at the right time. 

3. Prepare Yeast Mixture & Sugar

Using the right leavening agent is crucial to your fermentation process. Instant fermentative mixtures do not produce the right reaction to your concoction. Remember to follow the recipe. 

If you use berries, increase your sweeteners because they are only sweet to the taste, but their sugars are low. You would have to adjust your sweeteners to allow the enzymes [1] to do their job properly.

4. Start The Process

Making Wine

1. Place The Fruits In A Bowl


Prepare your chosen fruits and thoroughly clean them. Making brandy requires you to have clean and bacteria-free ingredients. Wash and remove any dirt or any particles stuck to the skin of your chosen fruit. 

Dry them out before placing them in a large bowl or container where you will be processing them. Everything should be dry when you make brandy at home. 

2. Slice The Fruits

The size of your fruits affects the outcome of your brandy-making a success. If you are making apple wine, you need to slice them into small cubes since these are harder to mash. 

Grapes are softer; therefore, you can slice them in half. Do not forget to remove the pits of the fruit you are using. 

3. Mash Them

Mashing the Fruits

For Berries

Berries are easier to mash. Again, you need to add sugar if you choose to make wine from a berry fruit. Spread the sweeteners at the bottom, add your fruits and continue layering until you run out of the two ingredients. 

Then you begin mashing the berry mixture until they turn liquid-like. 

Other Fruits

Fruit brandy made at home is preferable unless you use grapes aged in oak barrels. Removing grape skins is an option as these products usually taste harsh, thus the need for longer aging. But what does brandy generally taste like?

You can use apples, peaches, and apricots, place your fruits in a glass container and start mashing them. The result will look like grape juice. 

4. Prepare Yeast & Water

Your fermentative mix should be thoroughly mixed. Place it in a bowl and pour in warm water to dissolve it well. Ensure that there are no clumps. Once done, pour it over your fruit juice. 

Then, add six cups of cold water. Cover your mixture with a plate in case your container does not have a secure cover.  

5. Ferment The Mixture

Brandy Fermentation Process

Your fermentation process starts at this stage. Once the cover is placed, your waiting also begins. It will take around four weeks, but you need to safeguard your concoction in a safe, dry, and cool place. 

Also, remember to stir it once a week. Do not worry about bubbles. It’s an indication that your fermenting agents are doing their task. It starts producing alcohol. The process is very similar to how you make beer

6. Strain & Store

After a month, your mixture should be ready. The smell should have a higher alcohol concentration. You can take it out of your storage and prepare clean glass containers to transfer it to. 

Put a strainer and pour the fruit wine, removing skins, pits, and pulps. You now have your own wine! However, this is just the beginning of your distillation process into changing that wine into apricot, plums, grapes, or apple brandy. Find out if brandy is good for you here

Distilling Wine

1. Prepare Dutch Oven & Still

Dutch Oven

It is time to start with your distillation process. It would be best if you had a dutch oven or any stove-friendly container that fits your still. Place it on the burner and nestle your still in the middle.

Pour in water and make sure it is three quarters away from the top. The process of distilling brandy is not difficult, but it is very meticulous. You will not be boiling the brandy mixture but putting it inside your still.

2. Fill The Still With Your Mixture

Fill your large pot still with the fermented liquid leaving a quarter of space from the lid. These few inches of space will allow the wine bubbles to rise. Cover the still.

Brandy, by the way, comes from the Dutch word “brandewijn,” which means burnt wine. But you will not be burning your fermented fruit to achieve the end product. 

3. Start The Process

Collect & Get Rid of the Foreshots

Brandy Making Process

Once the wine heats, ensure that the fire is not too high. The water’s boiling point is 211 degrees Fahrenheit compared to the boiling point of alcohol, which is just 173 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the heat source at a steady low. 

As the temperature rises, you will notice liquid dripping from the sprout of your still. That marks your first distillation as the wine is distilled. These are called foreshots, a toxic combination of methyl alcohol and acetone. 

Collect Some Heads

The next liquid coming out of the still is called the head. Compared to foreshots, the smell is more bearable. However, these are still unwanted alcohol you do not want to be mixed with your brandy. 

You can also throw these away like the foreshots that came out of your pot stills. If you are making brandy with much more ingredients, you can collect five ounces of heads and keep five gallons of hearts.

Collect The Hearts

A glass of brandy

The clearer drops that come out of the still are called the heart. The product of your second distillation produces the good stuff. You can collect these using small glasses. 

You can tell by the color of the distilled wine and the aroma that explodes inside the kitchen. Like most brandy, it already has 35% alcohol as it is. However, the alcohol content can still increase. Therefore, do not waste a drop. 

Throw Away The Tails

The tail, the last part of the distilled wine, should also be thrown away. But how do you know it is time to throw away the liquid? 

The duller color will be your first indication. The alcohol taste will also be bitter. You must take notice of everything that comes out of your pot still to ensure that your distilled brandy has balanced flavor and alcohol content. 

4. Store Them In Oak Barrels (Optional)

brandy oak barrels

When you distill alcohol, aging is required to settle the alcohol presence. Storing it in oak barrels will give it added savor and character. However, since this is homemade, having a stashed oak barrel in the attic is not most likely.

An option is to use chips and pieces of oak. Soak it inside your brandy bottle before you store them. When kept in oak casks, it may not have that same color, but the savor is very similar. But does brandy go bad?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Can you still turn a year-old mash into brandy?

Yes, you can still turn a year-old mash into brandy. You can do the same process, and the alcohol content will be around 30-40%. You can easily turn a bottle of wine into brandy, especially if you do not want to go through the entire process and start from scratch with raw ingredients.

Can you use oak chips to age the brandy?

Yes, you can use oak chips to age the brandy. If you infuse the chips into the brandy during fermentation, it will clear it out faster. However, exceeding the infusion for over three years would be useless as the flavor and texture will not improve anymore. Also, what’s the proper way to drink brandy?

What is the main ingredient of brandy?

The main ingredient of brandy is fermented fruit juice, typically derived from grapes. However, brandy can also be made from other fruits such as apples, pears, cherries, or plums.

What is the process of making brandy?

The process of making brandy involves the following steps:

Fermentation: Fruit juice is fermented to convert sugars into alcohol, creating a low-alcohol wine.

Distillation: The wine is distilled to increase its alcohol content, separating the alcohol from water and other components.

Aging: The distilled liquid is aged in wooden casks, usually oak barrels, to develop flavor and character.

Blending: Different batches of brandy may be blended to achieve a consistent flavor profile.

Bottling: The final product is filtered and bottled.

What are the basic ingredients for brandy?

The basic ingredients for brandy include fermented fruit juice, water, and yeast for fermentation. Grapes are the most common fruit used in brandy production, but other fruits like apples, pears, and plums can also be used.

What are the raw ingredients in brandy?

The raw ingredients in brandy include the fruit used for fermentation (grapes, apples, etc.), water, and yeast. Some brandies may also include sugar or caramel for sweetness or coloring.

What are the 4 types of brandy?

There are various types of brandy, but four broad categories include:

Grape Brandy: Made from fermented grape juice and includes well-known varieties like Cognac and Armagnac.

Fruit Brandy: Made from fermented fruit juice other than grapes, such as apple brandy or cherry brandy.

Pomace Brandy: Produced from the leftover grape solids, seeds, and stems after winemaking, commonly known as grappa.

Brandy Blends: Some brandies are blends of different types or batches, creating a balanced and consistent flavor.

Is brandy a rum or whiskey?

Brandy is neither rum nor whiskey. Brandy is a distinct type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented fruit juice, with grapes being the most common fruit used. Rum, on the other hand, is made from fermented sugarcane juice or molasses, while whiskey is typically made from fermented grain mash.

How does brandy get its color?

Brandy gets its color primarily from the aging process in wooden casks, usually oak barrels. During this process, the brandy absorbs compounds from the wood, such as tannins and lignins, which contribute to its color. The longer the brandy ages, the more color it can acquire from the wood.

Where is brandy made in?

Brandy is produced in various regions around the world. Some well-known brandy-producing regions include France (known for Cognac and Armagnac), Spain, Italy, and the United States. Each region may have its specific regulations and traditions for making brandy.

Is Hennessy a brandy?

Yes, Hennessy is a brandy, but more specifically, it is a type of Cognac. Cognac is a variety of brandy that comes from the Cognac region in France and adheres to specific production regulations. Hennessy is one of the most renowned Cognac producers globally.

What makes brandy sweet?

The sweetness in brandy can come from residual sugars left after fermentation or from the addition of sweetening agents. Brandy made from ripe and naturally sweet fruit, especially grapes, may retain some sweetness. Additionally, certain brandies may undergo processes like the addition of caramel or sweetening agents during production to enhance sweetness. The level of sweetness in brandy can vary widely depending on the type and production methods.

So, How Do You Make Brandy?

The whole process you need to follow to make brandy isn’t too complicated if you follow everything in detail. You can mix distilled water if you want to lower the alcohol content of your small-batch brandy. The measurement we provided should come up to a few liters, which could be a lot of alcohol for your consumption. 

However, you do not have to worry since storing homemade brandy is legal, like hard cider, wine, or beer. You can double the ingredients and start distilling if you want to produce more. Commercially, some use fractional distillation with column stills. But the output will be the same, delicious brandy. 


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