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Brandy denotes any spirit distilled from fruit juices (most often wine and other fruits) and typically aged in charred barrels. This is where to look for things like blackberry or apricot brandies or for Cognacs, Salignacs, and Armagnacs.


There is a wide variety in the world of brandy that deals with aging and the specifics grades of brandy. You will see three common grades on brady ages no matter where they were produced: VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), and XO (Extra Old). However, they do mean different things depending on where they were made.

If you are looking at a French brandy (and all Cognacs and Armagnacs are Fench—they have to come from those regions of France), then VS means it has been aged for at least two years, VSOP means it has aged at least four years, and XO means it has been aged for at least six years. In practice, French brandies are often older than the minimum requirements. American brandies, however, are not bound by the same requirements. For American brandies, they must carry the label "immature" if they are aged less than two years. Also, they must label what they are distilled from if it is anything other than grapes.

Look to the brandy section if you are looking for an eaux de vie (any unaged brandy made from something other than grapes), piscos (unaged grape-based brandies from South America), and things like blackberry brandies.

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