Brandy and whiskey are two of the most famous alcoholic beverages in the world!
These two liquors have much in common. Both are distilled and both are aged in wooden barrels giving them their distinct flavor, however, there are key differences between them.
So What Exactly Is The Difference Between Whiskey and Brandy?
The main difference between whiskey and brandy is that whiskey is a spirit distilled from brewed malted grains. Brandy is a spirit distilled from fermented fruit juice.
Whisky has a malty, more complex flavor and has a stronger alcohol by volume than brandy. Brandy is usually sweeter and milder than whiskey. It has a fruity and flowery taste to it and is often served as an after-dinner drink.
The name whiskey comes from the Gaelic word uisqubagh – pronounce (whis-kee-baw) which means the water of life and has a long history dating back to the 15th century.
Whiskey or whisky is the broadest term for a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from a fermented mash of grains such as barley, rye, corn, wheat, and sorghum (which is gluten free).
When these key ingredients are fermented, they breakdown into sugar which is the beginning of whiskey and no two are alike.
Whiskey (with an e) refers to grain spirits distilled in the U.S. and Ireland. Whisky (with no e) refers to grain spirits distilled in Scotland, Japan, and Canada.
The Main Types Of Whiskey
Bourbon – An American whiskey distilled from a mash made primarily of corn. Bourbon must contain at least 51% corn in its mash and be aged in new, chard-oak barrels.
Bourbon has been distilled since the 18th century. It can be made anywhere in the United States but is mainly associated with the American South (Kentucky and Tennessee).
Scotch Whisky – This type of whiskey is entirely produced and bottled in Scotland. It must be made from malted barley, hot water, and yeast and distilled in Scotland. During the aging process, it develops a distinct smokey flavor and may have vanilla and fruity notes.
Irish Whiskey – This whiskey is one of the world’s greatest style of whiskey and is a popular choice in the U.K. and the United States.
To be recognized as Irish, a strict law states that the whiskey must be made entirely in Ireland and spend no less than three years aging on the island.
Canadian Whisky – Canada is best known for two types of whisky: 100% rye grain and grain blends.
Most Canadian whiskies are blended grains containing a large percentage of corn. They are generally lighter and smoother . Canadian whisky can be spicy and more straightforward.
Japanese Whisky – Whisky production is relatively new to Japan but has quickly made their mark on the industry.
Today, Japanese whiskies are hailed as world class. Japan’s distilleries generally follow Scotch methods of distillation, but the country’s distinct seasons has an impact on the maturation process.
Japan uses Indigenous lumber to make the oak casks which gives the final product a unique and refined flavor.
The name brandy comes from the Dutch word bran-dewijn meaning “burnt wine”. This beloved spirit boasts quite a rich history which began being distilled in France during the middle ages for medicine. It is said to have been used as a digestive aid and to relieve a sore throat.
In its simplest form, Brandy is an alcoholic beverage typically made from fermented grape juice. However, brandies can also be made from apples, apricots, peaches, and other fruits. This distilled spirit has less than 40% alcohol volume.
Today, brandy is not just for drinking. It is often used in cooking and baking due to its distinct and robust flavor.
The Most Popular Types Of Brandy
Cognac – Among the finest in the world, this brandy is only made in the Cognac region of France. It is made with white wine grapes that are very dry, acidic, and thin. It is produced by twice distilling the grapes.
It is considered one of the best older brandies in the world. Every Cognac is a brandy but not all brandy is a Cognac.
Armagnac – Armagnac is the oldest brandy (and liquor) in the world. It is one of the two great brandies (Cognac being the other).
It comes from Gascony in southwest France. It is distilled only once at a relatively low temperature and is aged for at least ten years.
Brandy de Jerez – This type of brandy is made in the Sherry Triangle of Spain. It uses two different types of copper distillation equipment.
Brandy de Jerez must be aged in American oak casks that previously contained sherry.
Pisco – Is a pale colored brandy that is mainly produced in Peru and Chile. It is distilled only once with no water added and a variety of grapes which offers a wide range of flavors.
It has a strong grape wine aroma but has a mild sweeter flavor. Others say it has flavors similar to tequila.
The U.S. is the second largest importer of Pisco, just behind Chile.
There Are Three Basic Ways To Serve Both Whiskey And Brandy
- Neat / Clean / Straight – Neat is served at room temperature without adding any other ingredients including water or ice. *See Best Glassware Below
- On The Rocks – A term for drinks that are served over ice. You can also use whiskey stones, to get your whiskey chilled but without the diluting in water part.
- In Cocktails – Both brandy and whiskey are key ingredients in many cocktail recipes.
Best Glassware For Drinking Whiskey And Brandy Neat Or On The Rocks:
There is a difference in the glassware you use. You want to capture and enjoy the aromas of the spirits properly.
- The Glencairn whiskey glass is a specialized glass designed specifically for drinking whiskey neat.
- A snifter which is a short glass with a wide base whose sides taper in at the top.
- Rock glass, also known as a Lowball glass, is a classic choice for drinking whiskey neat. The wide rim allows for easy sipping and the thick bottom provides stability.
Popular Whiskey Cocktails
This classic cocktail consists of bourbon, a sugar cube, a splash of water, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, boozed cherries, and an orange peel.
The Whiskey Sour is a simple cocktail consisting of whiskey, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and served with slices of citrus fruit and a Maraschino cherry. Sometimes egg whites are added.
The best way to make this classic cocktail is with bourbon or rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters.
Photo by Craigrhodesphotography.com
Smoked Rosemary Old Fashioned
If you love a classic Old Fashioned and the flavor of rosemary, you have to try this delicious cocktail!
- Carefully burn the end of a rosemary spring until smoking. Cover the smoking Rosemary with a cocktail glass to trap the smoke. Allow the to smoke to fill up the inside of the glass. This only takes a few minutes.
- Flip over cocktail glass and add ice.
- Add your ingredients and garnish with rosemary (with a smoking tip if you want to impress your guests)!
Popular Brandy Cocktails
Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned
A twist on the classic cocktail it is made with brandy, maraschino cherry juice, sugar, bitters, sugar, sliced oranges, and lemon-lime soda!
Wisconsin drinks more brandy than any other state, and most of the brandy consumption goes into the Wisconsin old fashioned!
The side car is generally made with only three ingredients: cognac, orange liqueur, and fresh lemon juice. Use can use granulated sugar for garnish and an orange or lemon twist for garnish.
These are two of the best margaritas! Recipe
You’re probably are going to want some appetizers to go along with your cocktails! Check out these delicious recipes from Join Me In The Kitchen:
- How To Make Torchy’s Tacos Damn Good Queso Dip (Copycat) – super easy!
- Pigs In A Blanket With Mustard Whiskey Sauce – A crowd favorite!
- Rubio’s Grilled Gourmet Shrimp Tacos Recipe – So delicious!
- For a great bar cart and any of these cocktails
- Good Whiskey / Whisky
- Good Brandy
- Orange Liqueur
- Chocolate-flavored liqueur
- Sugar cubes
- Jarred maraschino cherries
- Citrus - lemons, limes, and oranges
- Simple syrup
- Jarred boozed cherries
- Lemon-Lime, grapefruit, or club soda
- There Are Three Basic Ways To Serve Both Whiskey And Brandy
- On The Rocks
- In Cocktails
Popular Whiskey Cocktails
- Old Fashioned
- Whiskey Sour
Popular Brandy Cocktails
- Wisconsin Brandy Old Fashioned
- Side car
- Brandy Alexander
- Hot Toddy
Tools / Equipment
- Glasses: Snifter, rock (lowball), and cocktail
- Cocktail picks
- Sharp knife
The main difference between whiskey and brandy is the whiskey is a distilled spirit from brewed malted grains while brandy is an alcoholic beverage distilled from fermented fruit juices.
Whiskey has a malty, more complex flavor and has a stronger alcohol volume than brandy.
Brandy is usually sweeter and milder than whiskey with a fruity taste to it.
Some of the biggest-selling world brands of whiskey include: Makers Mark, Black Nikka, Crown Royal, Jameson, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam.
There are many different types of brandy produced all over the world, with some of the most popular brands being: Hennessy, Torres, Mansion House, Shustoff, and Courvoisier.