Ups474 writes ..
    It seems that the flavor of the brandy can be improved by fermenting the wine out to a lesser amount of alcohol. Most of the time, when reading about someone who made a brandy (don't get me wrong here, I'm positive you are already making top of the line stuff, I'm just showing another way of doing it) they use a starting wine with a minimum of 10% alcohol.

    It is a well known (obvious) fact that distilling concentrates alcohol, it is a lesser known fact that it also concentrates flavor. If you have ever had (or made) a very high alcohol white wine, you've probably noticed that it was pretty insipid in the taste department, that is because alcohol seems to displace flavor, so the less alcohol there is, the more the flavor can come through.

    Consider these numbers: A wine of 10% alcohol that is distilled to a final 70% has been concentrated seven times (so has the flavor!), a wine of 5% alcohol distilled to the same final 70% has been concentrated a total of 14 times! This would allow for a richer flavor to be concentrated in the resulting spirit.

    This is how commercial apple brandies and the like are produced (no added sugar is allowed-keeping the starting % low), and may be part of the reason for the great flavor they have. Hope this helps someone. Cheers!
Wal offers ...
    Brandy in Australia, if made in a pot still (getting rarer), is a double distillation process. The heart of the run has a strength of between 74%abv and 83%abv. By law it must be below 83%. The Australian pot still differs from the pot still used in the Cognac region of France (alambic Charentais) in that there is a tall tower (no plates) and an upwardly inclined lyne arm. Both have some reflux capability. In the French version, reflux is limited to the header chamber. Therefore removing scrubbers from a tall reflux column, or using a short reflux column could give the equivalent strength in one run.

    No access to grapes? You could get the same taste profile using raisins or sultanas. 8kg of fresh grapes produce 5l of wine. Raisins have a drying ratio of 1:4, therefore 2kg of raisins or sultanas (shredded) with 5l of water would be a reconstituted equivalent. 14lbs of grapes produce approx. one U.S. gal of wine(4l). To reconstitute raisins, for each 1kg (2.2lbs) add 4l ( of water. Since raisins are 60% sugar, you could use 1.5kg of raisins for each 4l of water or 2kg of raisins/5l water which is the max. yeast can ferment (about 2lbs of sugar/U.S. gal). Most commercial raisins are sulphited and covered in vegetable oil - preferably use naturally dried raisins, or wash well in hot water.     This page last modified Mon, 05 Mar 2012 08:07:08 -0800