Brandy vs. Whisky: What’s the Difference?

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There are so many types of alcohol available that it makes our head hurt just by thinking about it. Ranging from beer, wine, tequila, vodka, rum and Cognac among so many others, it’s no wonder that we may get confused from time to time. One of the commonly confused pairing is brandy and whisky. Similar in colour and both regarded as after-dinner drinks, it’s brandy vs. whisky today!


Brandy & Whisky: The Similarities

Before we tell you why they’re different, we’re going to start off by telling you how they’re the same. First of all, brandy and whisky are both fermented, they convert sugar to ethanol, and they’re most commonly aged in wooden barrels. Also, the longer they age, the smoother their taste!

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Brandy

Essentially, brandy is distilled wine. It is generally made from grapes, but any distilled liquor made from fermented fruit juice is brandy. The name brandy comes from Dutch “branwjin”, which literally means “burnt wine”. Generally, brandy is aged in old casks or wooden barrels, and can contain an alcohol by volume of 35% – 60%. The aging process determines its colour, and the colour is stronger the older the brandy is. However, sometimes caramel may be added to some brandies to adjust their colour and flavour. Also, you may have heard of cognac? Here’s some bonus trivia for you: All cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. Cognac is a French brandy made from special grapes grown in Cognac, and the name is protected and strictly enforced!

Brandy Liquors
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Whisky

Whether you spell it whisky or whiskey, it still begins with grain, and this is the greatest difference between brandy and whisky. Typically, whisky is made from malted ballet, corn, wheat, rye or other cereal grains. In other words, whisky is distilled beer. Whisky is made all over the world, but they are most popular in Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the US. Whiskies must be strengthened and aged in charred oak barrels, from which they gain their rich, golden brown, amber colour. Whisky does not mature in the bottle, so it will not get stronger even if you let that bottle of whisky sit for another 20 years. Of course, there are many sub-classifications under the big umbrella of “whisky”, so we’ll leave it up to you to decide what exactly you want!

GlenDronach Distillery, Aberdeenshire, Kingsman special edition whisky
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Some Brandy & Whisky Brands

Okay, so we’re no alcohol expert, but we’re just going to throw out a few brands that you can (Google first) and try out if you like!

Brandy:

  • Maison Gautier Cognac
  • Hennessy Cognac
  • D’ussé
  • Hiram Walker
  • Martell Cognac
Hennessy VS Cognac
Image Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Whisky:

  • Monkey Shoulder
  • Bushmills Black Bush
  • The Famous Grouse
  • Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
  • Jameson Irish Whiskey
Jack Daniel's Old No.7
Image Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Are you a brandy drinker, or a whisky drinker? Which do you prefer and why? Let us know in the comments below!