Brandy is an aromatic, distilled spirit that is made from wine (fermented fruit juice) whether from grapes or another type of fruit, but brandies made from any fruits other than grapes must be labelled with the fruit that it’s made from.
The word ‘brandy’ on its own generally refers to a grape product. The term Brandy is derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, which literally means ‘burned wine’ and refers to the heat applied to the wine during distillation. The distilled wine is then aged in oak barrels where it develops a balance of smoothness, complexity and a luscious amber colour.
At Bass & Flinders Distillery we take inspiration from old world and new in the production of our brandies. We employ a traditional French Charentais distillation method to produce our eau de vie or grape spirit, yet we work with the quintessentially Australian chardonnay grape variety, for a truly innovative and distinctly Australian brandy that celebrates our own terroir unique unto the world.
Read more about the History of Brandy.
Brandy is produced all over the world, each region with its own specific flavour and aroma characteristics. In Australia, the legal definition of brandy is that it must be ‘a spirit distilled from grape wine in such a manner that the spirit possesses the taste, aroma and other characteristics generally attributed to brandy’ and that it must be matured in oak for a minimum of 2 years. Free from the constraints of tight regulations elsewhere, creativity and innovation is fostered and Australian distillers are experimenting with various styles and using modern technologies to produce an exciting selection of fine brandies that are now beginning to make waves internationally.
At Bass & Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula, our grapes are sourced from a single vineyard and the smooth spirit is produced with only one grape variety, Australian Chardonnay, to reflect the characteristics and aromas unique to its terroir. Inspired by world renowned French brandies and produced using the Charentaise distillation method, double distillation of the wine takes place in a traditional copper still called an Alembic Pot Still, then aged in French Limousin oak barrels for at least 5 years, to achieve a world-class spirit.
Read more about how brandy is made.
Fine brandy can be drunk as an aperitif, digestive, as a long drink or a cocktail. Drink it neat in a brandy snifter or balloon glass with a wide base and a narrower rim to retain the aromas. Gentle heat also enhances the flavours and aromas of a good brandy, so it’s recommended to gently warm up the glass in your hand.
First impressions are everything so take a good look at the colour, clarity and viscosity of the golden spirit in your glass. Secondly, bring the glass to your nose without swirling – this is called ‘rising’. Then rotate to aerate the brandy and speed up the aromatic compounds in the glass.
When you’re ready to taste, sip a small mouthful and suck in a small amount of air to coat your palate with all the flavours of the brandy and ignite your olfactory senses. An elegant brandy will be lighter and softer on your palate, and a more robust style will have a more mouth-filling, weightier feel. In the best brandies, the aroma is just as important and enjoyable as its flavour.
Or you can enjoy brandy in an endless range of cocktails. If you have a look at a list of original cocktails from the golden cocktail era, brandy was a bar cart staple! One of the most famous is the Sidecar first made famous at The Ritz in Paris and followed by The Savoy in London, as well as the Manhattan, an Old Fashioned and classic Champagne Cocktails.