Brandy comes from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’ – meaning ‘burnt wine’ – but this has ‘owt to do with the flavours you’ll find in present day brandy, fear not. The term brandy is a collective name for distilled wines such as Cognac and Armagnac and the base ingredient is usually grapes, but exceptions include Calvados, which is made from distilled apples. Cognac and Armagnac are to brandy what Champagne is to sparkling wine – in order to merit the title ‘Cognac’ or ‘Armagnac’, they must adhere to the exacting standards of that appellation. Long story short, it means they are good quality.
If it sounds a bit fuddy duddy-y, that’s as may be, but because the results are delicious! Typically drunk neat at room temperature, brandy is a marvellous digestif. Classy and elegant and a timeless spirit, it’s the perfect toast for special occasions and never fails to bring an atmosphere of glorious satisfaction. Plus you get to use a fancy snifter glass (also known as balloon glass) – which, let’s face it, is pretty fun. Oh, and another thing, if you’re going properly Colombo, then it’s a must-have with your Cuban cigar. And rain coat.