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brandy[for brandywine, from Du.,=burnt, i.e., distilled, wine], strong alcoholic spirit distilled from wine or from marc, the residue of the wine press. The most noted brandy is cognac, made from white grapes in the Charente district of France. The label Cognac, fine champagne denotes the finest type of cognac, which comes from a small area around Cognac. Brandy is manufactured commercially in other districts of France, notably Armagnac, and in Spain, Portugal, Australia, Italy, South Africa, and the United States. Most fine brandies are distilled in pot stills constructed to retain the volatile ingredients. The product is blended and flavored, then stored in casks (preferably oak), where it mellows and takes on a yellow color; it acquires a deeper tint from long storage or the addition of caramel syrup. Brandy marketed in the United States must be matured in cask for at least four years. Brandy made from marc is very potent and is inferior to wine brandy. Liquor distilled from fermented beets, grains, or sugarcane is sometimes called brandy. The term, qualified by the name of a fruit, is applied to spirits distilled from the fermented juice of fruits other than the grape, e.g., peach brandy, cherry brandy, and plum brandy (slivovitz), which is extensively manufactured in the Balkans.
(Russian, kon’iak), a strong alcoholic beverage distilled primarily from dry white grape wines and aged in oaken barrels or cisterns with oaken staves. During the aging process brandy, which has an alcoholic content of 65–70 percent by volume is enriched with tannins and acquires its characteristic taste, bouquet, and color. At the same time, oxidizing processes are influenced by oxygen from the air. Distilled water is used to lower the alcoholic content of brandy. The production of brandy is especially widespread in France, in Charente Department (administrative center, Cognac), where the fine French brandy known as cognac is made.
In the Soviet Union two basic kinds of brandies are made, depending on the length of aging: ordinary brandies (from three to five years old, with the age indicated by asterisks) and fine brandies. The latter include KV, or aged brandy (from six to seven years), KWK, or highest quality aged brandy (eight to ten years), and KC, or old brandy (aged more than ten years). High-quality brandies are made in Armenia, Georgia, Moldavia, Azerbaijan, the Ukraine, and the Northern Caucasus. Other countries producing brandy include Italy, Spain, and Greece.