How to Make Brandy: Full Guide

by Karl Updated on October 16, 2021

Brandy, everyone’s favorite alcoholic beverage – Or at least it should be. It’s not just an old man’s drink, as some would say!

Its signature amber color and distinct flavorful aroma are enough to convince enough to grab a bottle now.

Today, we’ll help you re-discover your love for brandy, or perhaps find a new way to fall in love with it! Let’s get started and learn how to make brandy.

Bring the Fun at Home: Things You Need to Make Brandy

Getting all the things you need to make brandy all at once is essential. As much as possible, we want to make this experience as pleasurable and educational as possible.

To avoid experiencing any problems along the way, we highly recommend you prepare all the materials we’ll list down.

Doing so ensures a smooth process.

The sooner you get things done, the sooner you can take a sip of your homemade brandy.

To make things clear, this guide involves two processes: The first is making wine and the second is distilling wine.

Materials for Making Wine [r]

  • 3 quarts of your choice of seasonal fruits: apples, apricots, blueberries, cherries, grapes, pears, peaches, plums, and more.
  • 4 pounds of sugar
  • 6 cups of cold water
  • 6 teaspoons of active dry yeast or wine yeast
  • Glass jars with a tight lid
  • Large glass jar
  • A big glass bowl or stone crock to fit all your fruits
  • A plate to cover your bowl
  • Long-handled spoon or potato masher
  • Strainer or cheesecloth

Materials from Wine to Brandy

  • Still
  • Homemade wine
  • Dutch oven (in the alternative, you can use a stove friendly large pot that fits your still)
  • Clean glass containers (don’t use a plastic container)
  • Wine bottles or glass jars where you can store your brandy
  • A gas burner or stove
  • Oak chips

Seasonal Fruits

The first rule to ensure the success of your brandy recipe is to select a fruit that is in season. Sure you want to create some apricot brandy, but is it in season?

There’s a simple and practical reason why you’d want to choose fruit in season:

  1. First, there’s an abundance of it and you can keep buying as much as you want.
  2. Second, you’re sure the fruit tastes its best because it was grown and picked exactly at the right time.
  3. And third, well they’re a lot cheaper! It’s that simple!

That being said, you have a choice of buying other fruits which aren’t necessarily in season just yet. However, do note you might not be getting the best of its flavors.

Now, we’ve also mentioned above that some people use berries to make their brandies. Berries are great fruits to use. But, do note that you’ll have to add sugar to your brandy recipe.

While berries are generally sweet, their sugar content is far lesser than your other fruits like apricot and apples for example!

Yeast Mixture + More Sugar

Never forget your yeast and sugar, as these two are vital for the distillation process.

Also, there’s a variety of yeast out there, but make sure to choose activated dry yeast. Don’t worry because this ingredient is pretty common, and a lot of people use this for making bread.

You won’t have a hard time finding them!

A Step-By-Step Guide to Making Your Very Own Brandy

Now that you’ve got your ingredients and materials ready, it’s time to make your very own wine. There are two parts to this process, and we’ll make sure to guide you all the way.

Starting Your Brandy: Making Wine

It all starts by making your wine, using your favorite fruits, sugar, and yeast. Let’s begin!

Step 1: Get Your Fruits and Place them in a Big Bowl

  1. Start by gathering your chosen fruit in one bowl.
  2. Make sure to wash the fruits thoroughly, and remove any dust or particles that might have stuck to them. You want to be as thorough as possible because you don’t want any dirt and bacteria getting mixed into your fruit juice/ fruit brandy.
  3. Afterward, pat them dry with a clean paper towel or cloth.

Step 2: Slice Your Fruits and Remove the Pits

Slice your fruits into small pieces, or until the size is enough to be easily mashed.

Some tips:

  • If you’re making peach brandy or apple brandy, you’ll need to be extra mindful of the size of your slices.
  • Apples, for example, are slightly tougher than grapes which can get crushed easily. We recommend making small apple cubes, but whatever is convenient for your work. For grapes, slicing them in half should be enough.
  • You also want to be sure that you remove the pits of your fruits. For apples, getting the pits out is pretty easy. But for grapes, not so much. That being the case, you might want to choose seedless grapes to make fruit brandy.

Also, do note that you don’t have to peel the skin off of your fruits. You can leave them as is!

Step 3: Start Mashing Your Fruits and Release All Your Frustration!

Now for the fun part. It’s time to mash your fruits!

If you’re NOT using berries, you can follow this step:

  1. You can leave your fruits to ferment without mashing them, it’s all up to you. However, mashing them speeds up the whole fermenting process, which makes this step ideal.
  2. Place all your sliced and de-pitted fruits back in your glass bowl or stone crock and mash away! You can use whatever tools you want for this process. But in general, potato mashers work the best.
  3. Once done, it’ll look like you have grape juice, assuming you used grapes.

BUT if you are USING berries, you’ll have to follow this instead:

Like what we’ve mentioned earlier, berries don’t have as much sugar as other fruits like apples and peaches.

That being the case, make sure to line the bottom of your container with sugar, place the berries on top, and add sugar on top once more, and so on until you run out of the two.

Leave it to rest.

Step 4: Ready Your Yeast and Water

By now, your kitchen probably smells sweet and fruity. Just think of all the fruit flavor scents coming out of your kitchen! Sounds and smells so delightful.

Now for a complete breakdown of Step 4:

  1. Get your activated dry yeast and dissolve it in warm water.
  2. Make sure you dissolve the mixture well because you don’t want to end up with clumps and messing up the role of the yeast for this process.
  3. Once done, pour in the yeast to your fruits, as well as six cups of cold water.
  4. Finally, make sure to cover your bowl with a plate and store it in a cool place.

Now, this is where the waiting game begins.

Step 5: Let the Fermentation Process Begins

Once you leave your bowl alone, this is where the fermentation process begins.

You’ll need to give this process at least one month, to make sure you get the most flavor and alcohol content from your mixture.

But just because it takes a month to ferment doesn’t mean you’ve got nothing left to do.

You’ll still need to check on your concoction and stir it once a week. A cool thing you’ll notice when you stir the mixture is that there will be bubbles. Don’t worry, because it’s part of the process!

Do this step until you reach the end of the first month.

Step 6: Strain Your Mixture

When one month has passed, you’ll notice the fruity smell has turned to a smell something closer to alcohol. Plus, your concoction most likely has a higher alcohol concentration compared to the first week you left it to ferment.

So what’s next? Here’s what you should do:

  1. Pour your mixture into a new container, and place a strainer in between to get rid of all the peels, pulps, and pits. Some people opt to use a cheesecloth, to make sure no small bits pass through.
  2. Once you’re sure that the only thing left is clear wine and no other particles, it’s time to transfer your fruit wine to your bottles or glass jar!

Step 7: And Viola, You’re Done!

Store your bottles or glass jars away, in a cold and dark place. You can leave it for a good few months, or years even if you want, and you’ve got yourself some fine wine.

Apple wine, hard cider, peach wine, apricot wine, delicious!

Road to Brandy: Distilling Process

Yes, so far, you’ve only managed to make wine.

Is it brandy? Not yet.

Before your wine becomes brandy, you’ll have to distill it.

Truth be told, this process might get a little tricky and technical. But don’t worry because you’re in good hands. Just follow us along, and you’ll end up with your delicious peach brandy, apple brandy, or whatever brandy you desire!

Step 1: Get Your Dutch Oven and Still Ready

If you don’t have a dutch oven, we recommend using a large stove-friendly container as long as it can fit your still.

  1. Put your dutch oven on your stovetop or burner, and place the still in the center.
  2. Fill your dutch oven with water at least 3/4 away from the top.

Step 2: Fill Your Still 

  1. Once your still is resting nicely on your container, start filling it with your homemade wine.
  2. Make sure to leave about a 1/4 space from the lid to allow your wine to rise and bubble without any mess.
  3. Cover your still with the lid and turn on your burner.
  4. Keep the heat at a steady temperature. Remember, you’re NOT boiling it. Instead, you want your distilling process to be a slow and steady one.

Step 3: Start the Distillation Process [r]

At this point, you need to pay close attention. This is where things get a little complicated, and you need to be particular about this step.

Now, once you still get heated up, you’ll notice liquid starting to drop from the spout. Before you get excited and think this is brandy, don’t be just yet! And here’s why.

There are four phases of distillation you need to take note of: foreshots, heads, hearts, and tails. Of those enumerated, the only thing you want to keep is the HEARTS.

Step 4: Collect the Foreshots and Get Rid of Them

The first thing that’ll trickle from your stills’ spout is the foreshots. You won’t have a hard time identifying it, thanks to its strong smell.

In general, foreshots smell a lot like chemicals because of the toxic combination of methyl alcohol and acetone. You do not want this on your final product, which is why you have to get rid of it once it’s out.

Step 5: Collect Some Heads

The next thing that will come out from your stills is the heads. They’re not as unbearable as foreshots, but they still do contain some harsh chemicals that taste and smell bad.

Nevertheless, some distillers collect heads for future use. If you see yourself doing this process again in the future, set aside the heads.

Step 6: Collect the Hearts and Don’t Waste Any Drop!

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for, you finally have your brandy! Once all the heads are gone, it’s time to collect the hearts.

You’ll know the difference once you see and smell the drops. Your kitchen will finally smell like most brandy: aromatic with a familiar scent of sweetness.

The drops look a lot like brandy, and almost none of its original wine color. More importantly, hearts will have AT LEAST 35 percent alcohol content.

Make sure to collect all the hearts and place them in a nice container, to be stored at a cool temperature.

Step 7: Get Rid of the Tails

Once all the hearts are gone, all that’s left are the tails.

It’s nothing like the hearts, and will most likely sport a dull and bitter taste. Now that’s something you DON’T want to mix with your hearts.

Some distillers, however, still collect the tails together with heads for future purposes. So you might want to do that too.

If You’re Feeling Extra, You Can Do More!

If you’re happy with the results of your brandy and want to go the extra mile, you can make more! In this review, the ingredients we’ve listed are only for a small batch.

You can make a few liters more by doubling or tripling the quantity of the ingredients. However, when you do this, you’ll need to make sure whatever juice you come up with can fill your stills. If not, you’ll have to do the distilling process more than once.

Pro Tip: If you find that your brandy might be a little too strong for your liking, you reduce the alcohol concentration by mixing some distilled water.

Got Some Oak Barrels?

Once you’ve mastered making your brandy, you can even go as far as storing them inside oak barrels.

If you want your brandy to have that beautiful golden color, storing and aging them inside oak casks will do the trick.

Many professionals achieve wonderful results whenever they store their brandy inside oak barrels, making sure it gets infused with all that oak wood. Brandy infused and aged in oak is just pure perfection!

But even without using an oak barrel, you can achieve just the same.

Some use oak chips to give their brandy that nice oaky taste. Just make sure to store your finished brandy in a cool and dark place, and give it some more time to mature. In no time, you’ll have yourself the perfect nightcap.

Brandewijn: Your Next Favorite Drink

Brandy has a pretty rich history, although it’s a mystery where this aromatic and fruitful drink began. But what we know for a fact is that it’s delicious.

Its name has its roots in the word Brandewjin, which translates to burnt wine or brandy in English. But this amber concoction tastes nothing like burnt wine. Some brandies go through fractional distillation to get that yummy delicious flavor.

If at all, brandy tastes delightful! With its distinct alcoholic taste and sweet fruity undertones.

Ahhh, doesn’t drinking brandy now sound like a good time? Especially if you’ve got different fruit flavors to choose from: peach brandy, apple brandy, and more.

You can pretty much use any fruit for your brandy, as long it has SUGAR CONTENT. Most of the commonly used fruits, for example, include our favorites – apple, apricots, cherry, grapes, peach, pear, plum, and many more!

Can you already imagine all the wonderful flavors and undertones you need to try the next time you drink brandy? Now that’s something you can look forward to.

What Are You Waiting For? Time to Make Some Brandy!

Making wine is easy, but brandy? It sure sounds like a complicated and intimidating thing to do. But hey! If there’s anything we’re sure we taught you in this article, it’s that making brandy is very easy!

As long as you’ve got all the materials and ingredients prepared, nothing should stop you. Who says you can’t make finished brandy at home?

So what are you waiting for? Get your small glasses out, some ice, and pour yourself a drink made entirely by you. Whether it’s peach brandy, apple brandy, blackberry brandy, you name it!

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you have any questions, feel free to drop them down below. We’ll be more than happy to assist you in your pursuit to make one fine brandy.

Karl S: Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.