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Old & Rare Brandy

Brandy, distilled from fermented fruit, usually grapes, has become a celebrated spirit worldwide, particularly the varieties that are designated as old and rare. The creation of brandy involves crucial stages that significantly influence its quality and character. These steps include fermentation, distillation, and ageing, all of which must be executed with precision and skill to result in an exceptional product.

From Fruit to Distillation

The starting point for brandy lies in the quality of the fruit used. Typically grapes, the fruit undergoes fermentation to convert sugars into alcohol, and then the resulting liquid is distilled. The distillation process involves heating the fermented juice to separate the alcohol, which is then collected and moved to the next stage of production - ageing.

How to make Old Brandy

Ageing is pivotal in the brandy production process, significantly impacting its flavour, colour, and overall profile. Old brandy indicates a lengthy ageing period, during which the spirit absorbs characteristics from the wood barrels in which it resides. This stage is critical, and the interactions between the wooden cask and the spirit define the final product's complexity and nuance.

It's challenging to age spirits for extended periods due to factors like the "Angel's Share" - the portion of spirit lost to evaporation during ageing. This loss means that as a brandy ages, less of it remains, making older brandies scarcer and, typically, more expensive. The need for precise conditions, patience, and a substantial initial investment also complicates the extended ageing process.

Exploring Styles and Rarity

Various styles and types of brandy exist, often categorised by their region of production, such as Cognac and Armagnac from France, each with distinct production methods and flavour profiles. Additionally, the fruit used, like apples for Calvados or different varieties of grapes, can influence the style and flavour of the brandy.

A brandy deemed rare often comes from a limited production run, perhaps from a particular exceptional year or a single cask of notable quality. These brandies are scarce by nature, offering unique sipping experiences and typically commanding higher price points due to their limited availability.

Age statements

When exploring old and rare brandies, it’s useful to understand the indications of age and quality on the label. Expressions like 'VS' (Very Special) or 'VSOP' (Very Superior Old Pale) indicate different ageing classifications, with 'VSOP' typically being aged longer than 'VS'.

In summary, old and rare brandies are not merely spirits; they are bottled chronicles of history and tradition, shaped by years, sometimes decades, of craftsmanship and patient maturation. The styles, methods of production, and ageing processes employed across various regions create a diverse and fascinating world of spirits, providing an enriched experience for those who seek to explore it. The rarity comes from limited quantities, meticulous production, and, often, an exceptional quality that stands out even in a market saturated with premium options.

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