The Difference between Whisky and Brandy

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The Art of Distinguishing Your Spirits

The ability to tell whisky and brandy apart is a special skill only fine drinkers possess. Non-drinkers often have no clue what the difference between whisky and brandy is, but fine drinkers know that each drink is special in its own right. They take pride in taking time to distinguish between these two, appreciating the different aromas and flavours. 

With that said, let us take a look at the difference between brandy and whisky. These are two completely separate drinks, with distinct taste and texture, made from different ingredients, using different process.

The key difference is that whisky is made from fermented grain, whereas brandy is made from fermented fruit.


This is a type of distilled alcoholic beverage made from any form of fermented grain mash. Depending on the geographical region or type of whisky that is being made, whisky can be made from barley, malted barley, rye, malted rye, wheat, and corn.  The alcohol and mash content varies depending on the regulations of the geographic region. Whiskies must be strengthened and aged in a charred oak barrel, to which this beverage also owes to its golden brown, amber colour. They do not mature in the bottle, hence if a person keeps the whiskey bottle over a long time, it would not become any stronger in flavour or alcohol content.

There are various types of whiskey and they differ in terms of base product, alcoholic content and quality.

Whiskies can further be classified under:

  • Malt whisky: made primarily from malted barley.
  • Grain whisky: made from any type of grain. 
  • Single malt whisky: produced in a single distillery and made from a mash that uses only one particular type of malted grain.
  • Blended malt whisky: a blend of different malt whiskies from different distilleries.
  • Blended whiskies: made from a mixture of malt and grain whiskies along with neutral spirits, caramel, and flavouring.
  • Cask strength: rare whiskies that are bottled directly from the cask and are undiluted or only a little diluted. 
  • Single cask: each bottle of a single barrel whisky is from an individual cask, with the cask number labeled on the bottle. 


Brandy, which is short for brandywine, is a sprit that is distilled from wine, grapes and other fruit that can produce a sugary juice. However, if the brandy is made from any other fruit instead of grapes, many countries require it to be labeled as ‘fruit brandy’, ‘fruit spirit’, or the name of the fruit should be mentioned on the bottle. Brandies are more commonly considered as an after-dinner drink and can contain alcohol by volume between 35% and 60%. 

The aging process determines the colour of the brandy; if it is not aged the brandy is colourless or clear and the longer it is aged the stronger the colour of the brandy. Caramel may also be added to some brandies to adjust the colour and the flavour of the beverage. Brandy is labeled in a certain way that shows the quality of the brandy. Labels include:

  • A.C. (aged 2 years), 
  • V.S. (Very Special, aged 3 years)
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale, aged at least 5 years)
  • X.O. (Extra Old, aged at least 6 years)
  • Vintage (the label shows the date it was placed into the cask)
  • Hors d'age (too old to determine age, commonly more than 10 years).
Now that you know the interesting difference between the two, enjoy in moderation and responsibly!


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