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Brandy Vs Whiskey – How are they different?

Brandy Vs Whiskey

The debate on brandy vs whiskey is a popular one. Some prefer the smooth warmth of brandy while others like the sharper bite of whiskey.

This article provides an in-depth comparison between the two. It also provides insight into the benefits and risks associated with consumption.

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Difference Between Brandy and Whiskey



Brandy is created by distilling fermented wine or fruit mash.

While grapes are the most popular, different fruits are used as well. For example, there is a lovely apple brandy called Calvados from Normandy. Obstler is another fruit brandy that hails from the Alpine region.

Fermented fruit mash is almost always used in brandy production. Although, there are exceptions to every rule.

Pomace brandy is the perfect example of this. Instead of using fruit mash, Pomace uses the skins, seeds, pulp, etc. of the fruit.


Whiskey is made by distilling fermented grain mash.

Malted barley is used in almost every whiskey, although other grains used can vary. Irish whiskey is usually made of malt mash, while Scotch uses both malt and grain.

Any type of grain would work for whiskey. Bourbon and Candian whiskies are smoother since they are both created with corn. Bourdon needs to have at least 51% corn.

But, rye whiskey is spicier because it’s made from a minimum of 51% rye.

Distilling Process


Fine brandies are often made in small batches and distilled twice to make them smoother. It needs to age in oak casks for at least 2 to 6 years. Although it shouldn’t surprise you to find a blend that is decades old.

Young brandies get their golden color from the sugar and caramel that gets added to it. The young brandy is then blended with vintage brandies. It’s common practice to blend different vintages.

All brandies get stored in oak casks as this gives them their unique flavor. More matured vintages also get their golden brown color from being in oak for years. When ready, the batches are then diluted and bottled.


Irish whiskey gets distilled thrice. American and scotch whiskies are generally distilled twice. This means that the Irish spirit is smoother.

Malt gets treated with peat smoke. This gives certain whiskies their smokey flavor. They age in oak barrels and are sometimes ‘finished’ in barrels that housed other spirits such as rum or port.

It needs to age for at least 3 years and then most goes through chill-filtration before it’s bottled.


Whiskey gets classified by its composition. Brandy gets classified by age (how long it was in the oak cask).


  • Single malt: Distilled from the mash of one type of malted grain, at a single distillery.
  • Blended malt: The name speaks for itself. It’s a blend of different single malt from different distilleries.
  • Blended whiskey: A blend of different whiskies, usually from different distilleries too.
  • Cask strength: Either straight from the cask (undiluted) or only slightly diluted. This is very rare.
  • Single cask: Whiskies that are bottled from a single cask.


  • 3-Star or VS (Very Special): It must have aged in oak for at least 2 years.  This is the shortest time a brandy can age.
  • VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale): It must have aged for at least 4 years. Generally, most in this class have aged longer.
  • Napoleon, XO (Extra Old): It must have aged for at least 6 years.
  • Hors d’age: Brandies in this class have aged for 10 years or longer.

Brandy or Whiskey – Which Is Better?

Deciding between brandy or whisky can be a difficult choice. Some even prefer both or neither.

If you’ve tried both and are still undecided, a little more information might help your decision. Both have health benefits and risks, and knowing what they are could be important.


Brandy was quite a popular after-dinner drink in earlier centuries. This is due to its soothing nature. Today, it’s become a popular social drink, and it’s also my personal preference.

But, I’m also a wine-drinker and since brandy is distilled from fermented wine it suits me better.

In the 15th-century winemakers decided to distill their products for transportation. They would then add water to the distilled product to turn it back into wine. Of course, they soon discovered that the distilled wine was pretty great too.

And thus, brandy was born.

It contains antibacterial and antioxidant compounds which give it many health benefits.

There are 18 variants of brandy. Cognac is the most well-known variant and is only distilled in France under strict laws.


  • Smoother than most other spirits.
  • Has many health benefits due to its antioxidant and antibacterial properties.
  • Great to use as a sleep aid.
  • Contains zero carbohydrates.


  • Too much consumption can cause a drop in blood sugar levels.
  • Its soothing nature can make you sleepy which is not so great when you’re socializing.


People who say that whiskey isn’t smooth haven’t tried a good bourbon or Canadian whiskey.

There are 11 variations of whiskey. This includes single malt, blended, and moonshine. So, while whiskey is known for its bite, there are lighter options available.

Whiskey was a popular health tonic in the 16th century. It can still provide those same health benefits when consumed in moderation.

In small doses, it could improve your immune system. It can also offer relief from flu and cold symptoms such as congestion and coughing.

That’s not to say that you should overdo it. Whiskey is a drink best consumed slowly, either neat or on the rocks.

While many would say that it’s best to drink it at room temperature, some of us may need to dilute it a little bit.


  • It could improve your immune system if consumed in small doses.
  • Could offer relief from cold and flu symptoms.
  • Some whiskies have a ‘finish’ which adds a more complex and rich flavor profile to them.
  • It contains little calories and no sugar.


  • Too much consumption can lead to a decline in mental health. It can also cause memory disruptions.
  • Liver damage is a possibility with excessive consumption.

Brandy and Whiskey (FAQ)

How Is Brandy different from Whiskey?

Brandy is made from grape (and other fruit) and aged for at least 2 years in oak barrels. Whiskey is made from grains and needs to age for at least 3 years.

Whiskey also needs to go through a chill-filtration process before it’s bottled.

Is Brandy stronger than Whiskey?

No. It’s the opposite.

  • Brandy has a minimum ABV of 30% and 60 proof.
  • Whiskey has a minimum ABV of 40% and 80 proof.

Is Jack Daniel’s Brandy or Whiskey?

Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee whiskey. It’s a smooth drink that is very much like bourbon.  This is why many still argue over whether it is bourbon or not.

👇 VOTE 👇

  • Which do you prefer – Brandy vs Whiskey?

    • Brandy
    • Whiskey

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Written by Rory Parry


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