Brandy and Liqueur: what are the differences? (2024)

Eaux-de-vie (brandies) and liqueurs both refer to spirit drinks, but their production methods are very different and they each have their own specific tastes. Let's see together how they differ.

The eau-de-vie is a drink with a high alcohol content, greater than 37.5% vol., the production of which includes two main stages: the fermentation of agricultural raw materials (cereals, fruits, wines or plants) and the distillation of this fermentation in a still.

Agricultural raw materials are generally left to ferment in specific tanks for several weeks to several months. The yeasts naturally contained in agricultural materials will then transform the sugar they contain into alcohol. If the raw materials have a low sugar content, the fermentation is then slower and the alcohol level obtained during this first stage is lower.

The product of this fermentation, also called a wash, which generally contains only a few degrees of alcohol, is then poured into a still to be distilled. The work of the Master Distiller will here relate to the concentration of the aromas and especially of the alcoholic degree in order to obtain a distillate generally above 50% vol. These distillates are then placed to rest in glass containers for fruit brandies or in oak barrels for wine or grain brandies.

The most produced brandy in France is Cognac, but our producers also stand out for the quality of their fruit brandies. Here are some types of eaux-de-vie and their most well-known names/inscriptions:

  • Wine Eau-de-vie, such as Cognac
  • Cider Eau-de-vie, such as Calvados
  • Grain cereals Eau-de-vie, such as Whisky
  • Plant Eau-de-vie, such as Tequila
  • Fruit Eau-de-vie, such as Kirsch d’Alsace

Eau-de-vie is traditionally consumed as a digestive.

Liqueur is an alcoholic and flavored drink made from fruits, plants, herbs, roots, flowers, etc. which usually contains at least 100g of sugar per litre according to EU laws. It is obtained by flavoring a neutral alcohol of agricultural origin, thanks to various processes: infusion and/or distillation of agricultural raw materials. Its minimum alcohol content is 15% vol. It faithfully restores the aromas of these raw materials.

If the most qualitative herbal liqueurs, such as Genepi Meunier or Chartreuse, are produced by distillation, fruit liqueurs are more commonly produced from a cold alcoholic infusion in which the fruits, generally cut or crushed, are placed to infuse for several weeks in a solution made up of a mixture of water and alcohol.

The distillate or infusion is then blended in precise proportions with the other ingredients (water, alcohol, sugar) to obtain the liqueur. Once the liqueur has been produced, it is left to rest in stainless steel containers, or in wood for certain herbal liqueurs such as Chartreuse, Bénédictine or the Hors d’Age cuvée of Génépi Meunier.

Some liqueurs may contain eaux-de-vie as an alcoholic base. This is for example the case of the Orange Grand Marnier liqueur which includes a proportion of Cognac in its blend.

Here are some iconic liqueurs produced in France:

  • Orange Liqueurs “triple sec” : Cointreau, Grand Marnier
  • Mint Liqueurs : Menthe Pastille, Get27
  • Herbal Liqueurs : Chartreuse, Genepi Meunier, Benedictine
  • Cherry Liqueur : Guignolet
  • Tangerine Liqueur : Mandarine Napoléon

These liqueurs, more than a century old, are now at the forefront of the co*cktail scene and their consumption has largely moved away from the traditional digestive in recent years. You follow ?

Brandy and Liqueur: what are the differences? (2024)


Brandy and Liqueur: what are the differences? ›

Liqueur is actually a type of spirit or liquor, which itself is a grain-based, distilled alcoholic beverage. A liqueur is a distilled spirit like vodka or brandy that is sweetened with sugar or syrup, and oftentimes it also contains flavoring agents such as fruit, herbs, and oils.

Is liqueur the same as brandy? ›

Eaux-de-vie (brandies) and liqueurs both refer to spirit drinks, but their production methods are very different and they each have their own specific tastes.

What's the difference between a liqueur and a liquor? ›

Contrary to liquors, liqueurs contain much more sugar and are often used as flavoring agent in a co*cktail. So simply said a liqueur is a liquor with added sugar, flavors, and often (though not always) has a lower proof. Examples of liqueurs are Curaçao Liqueurs, Disaronno, Bailey's, Amaretto, etc.

What are the 4 types of brandy? ›

Seven types of Brandy
  • Cognac. The most famous brandy in the world. ...
  • Armagnac. France's other great brandy. ...
  • Calvados. Calvados is made from apples and pears, not grapes, grown in the Calvados region in Normandy in the north east corner of France.
  • Brandy de Jerez. ...
  • Metaxa. ...
  • Pisco. ...
  • Grappa.

Can you drink liqueur straight? ›

Secondly, liqueurs can be drunk straight, or used in other meals and drinks. As mentioned previously, they can be drunk before or after a meal, as an aperitif or a digestif, and can be consumed neat or with ice. Liqueur can be added to coffee, most commonly a cream based liqueur.

What are examples of liqueurs? ›

Some well-known examples of liqueurs include Grand Marnier (orange-flavoured liqueur), Amaretto (almond-flavoured liqueur), Baileys Irish Cream (a cream-based liqueur), and Kahlúa (a coffee-flavoured liqueur). These liqueurs have a distinctive taste profile, making them popular choices for co*cktails and mixed drinks.

Why is brandy called VSOP? ›

VSOP, “Very Superior Old Pale”, which is now common for all Cognac Houses actually dates back to 1817 British Royal Court. So, what does VSOP stand for exactly? For a cognac to be classified as a VSOP, the minimum age of the youngest eaux-de-vie in the blend must be at least 4 years old.

What's the difference between brandy and cognac? ›

Examples of brandy include pisco, armagnac or Obstler (a brandy produced in Austria and Switzerland). Cognac, however, is always made with grapes and has a very specific distillation and blending process located in a small, protected area in the southwest of France. considered as brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.”

Is Amaretto a liqueur? ›

Amaretto is a fragrant almond flavoured liqueur. Traditionally, the almond flavour and slight bitterness come from oil extracted from bitter apricot kernels. However, sufferers of nut allergies should be aware that some amarettos are now made using almonds.

Is Jagermeister a liquor or liqueur? ›

Jagermeister is a popular liqueur, or sweetened, flavored liquor. It's infused with a number of herbs, and a lot of its recipe is kept secret to keep the brand exclusive. However, it's known that Jagermeister contains bitter orange, cloves, and star anise among other ingredients.

Is Hennessy a brandy? ›

Contrary to popular confusion, Hennessy is not a whiskey but is instead a type of brandy. The term brandy refers to a spirit distilled from a fermented fruit juice, be it grape or other fruits such as apple (used to make apple brandies like Calvados).

What does XO mean in brandy? ›

Extra Old” For a cognac consisting of eaux-de-vie which have aged for a minimum of 10 years.

Which brand of brandy is best? ›

Top 10 Cognac & Brandy
  • Hennessy XO Cognac. ...
  • Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac. Rating: ...
  • Delamain Vesper XO Cognac. The Story. ...
  • Torres 30 Jaime I. Brandy Reserva de la Famiglia. ...
  • St. George Pear Brandy. ...
  • Cîroc VS French Brandy. Rating: ...
  • Ararat Akhtamar 10 Year Old Brandy. Rating: ...
  • Copper & Kings American Craft Brandy. Rating:

What is the smoothest alcohol to drink straight? ›

The best spirits to sip neat, without mixing with anything else, include whiskey, bourbon, Scotch, tequila, mezcal, gin and rum.

What is the smoothest liquor for shots? ›

Rum. Many different types of liquor can be used for shots, but rum is often a great choice. Rum has a sweet, smooth flavor that can be enjoyed by everyone. It's also relatively inexpensive, making it a great option for budget-minded drinkers.

Should you refrigerate liqueur? ›

"Once you open a bottle of cream liqueur, you do not have to store it in the refrigerator, but doing so can help preserve the flavors for a longer period of time."

Is there a brandy-based liqueur? ›

Brandy-based liqueurs are typically clear or light in colour, sweetened, and bottled with an alcohol content between 15 and 40 percent by volume. Grand Marnier and François Voyer are two well-known producers of brandy-based liqueurs.

Is a cognac a liqueur? ›

A Cognac Liqueur is a strong but sweet alcoholic berverage, usually enjoyed after a meal as a digestif. Liqueurs have as a base a liquor, on our site that's Cognac. Sugar is added to the base along with a mix of herbs, fruits, or spices, depending on the desired flavor. ABV ranges from 14 to 22%.

Is blackberry brandy the same as liqueur? ›

While grapes are the most common, any fruit will do, and blackberry brandy is one of the most popular flavored brandies. In today's market, however, most blackberry brandy is sweetened, so it's very similar to blackberry liqueur, and the two can be used interchangeably in many drink recipes.

Why is it called liqueur? ›

According to Wikipedia, the French word liqueur is derived from the Latin "liquifacere", which means "to liquify, dissolve or melt". This word dates back to 1735–45. The fact that liqueur is derived from the word "liquifacere" is not a coincidence.


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