The Story Behind

The Brandy

Brandy in France has a history that is rich and goes back several centuries. Brandy is a wine-based distilled spirit, it has played a significant role in French culture and gastronomy.

BRANDY of FRANCE is a spirit produced by the distillation of wine.

No vine no wine.

Thank you the Romans!

Until then forbidden, the Privilege of cultivating vines was introduced into southwestern Gaul by the Romans in the third century AD. Thus the Gallo-Roman Provinces of the South-West had sole authority to plant extensive areas with vines.

The seventh to twelfth centuries saw the development of the Atlantic seaboard. The cargo holds of foreign trading ships were replete with WINE, Corn and Salt. This region of France became the pantry of England, Flanders, the Scandinavians, the Germans, and all of Northern Europe. Forests were felled, vines planted on every available plot of land, production skyrocketed, the quality of the wine dropped, stocks accumulated.

Thank you the Dutch!

In the sixteenth century and for more than a century, the Dutch with their 15,000 ships became the masters of the waves and of the maritime wine trade. In the Taverns of London, in Sweden, in Poland, no matter where, everyone quaffed French wine. Water they avoided: it was often stagnant, and bore diseases. A labouring peasant in those times would drink five or six litres of wine a day.

But overproduction of wine compromises its quality, it doesn’t travel well, prices and demand go into freefall.

It was the Dutch who would resolve the fragility that producing too much wine was causing to an upset market. In particular, to reduce the tax levied on shipping volumes, they decided to use a technique known since Antiquity: DISTILLATION. With distillation, shipped volume is reduced to a tenth, alcohol is considered as having medicinal properties.

Over the centuries, alcohol has earned a reputation as the “water of life”.

For Dutch traders, distillation offered nothing but benefits. Rather than transporting wine from France to Holland, they installed their stills and started distilling right in the heart of the French vineyard.

Between 1620 and 1680, distilling spread far and wide. Very soon, stills were being constructed on site, the Dutch extending their trade in wine to trading in liquors. Then came the flagship product of the French spirits industry: “burnt wine”, or BRANDEWIJN in Dutch … the French BRANDY was born.

Thank you the Irish!

The drink became popular in the seventeenth century. It was drunk by adding water (which was thus purified), it being claimed that the taste of the wine was thereby revived.

“Burnt wine”, from the Dutch name BRANDEWIJN, owes its success to its quality, its fine taste, fine enough not to need the adjunction of spices, sugar or aromatic herbs. This aqua vitae is enough on its own, it is excellent, it retains both the flavour of the fruit and the freshness of the wine “Burnt Wine” has laid the foundations of French Brandy, the FRENCH BRANDY with a reputation that now extends worldwide.

Napoleon and perfidious Albion saw the Dutch lose their suzerainty of the seas. Irish middlemen came in the place of the Dutch traders, lending a most flattering reputation to BRANDEWINE, which they would market to affluent Englishmen as BRANDY.

Thank you the French!

In the nineteenth century, France enacted strict regulations to protect the quality and authenticity of the production of spirits, according to their geographical origins.

Over the course of its international reputation, FRENCH BRANDY (or Brandy Français) has become a talisman of Luxury and Prestige as a result of being exported around the world. Thereafter, Brandy made its emergence in wine-making regions of France that value the typicality of Brandy refined using unique, original methods.

"Today, French brandy remains a popular drink around the world, with a long tradition of quality and excellence."

- Jean-François SAINCLAIR -

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