Harking from France, Brandy was originally known as Brandywine and for good reason too. It is made by distilling wine and started as a way to avoid tax. At that time tax on alcohol was calculated by volume, so by distilling (and thus concentrating) the wine into Brandy, the tax would be reduced. Water could then be added to dilute it back down to a suitable drink… but where is the fun in that? So brandy remained!

It was seen to have marvellous strengthening and sanitary powers and French physicians in the 14th century called it “l’eau de vie” – the water of life! Although now made around the world, among the most renowned regions for producing brandy are Cognac and Armagnac from South-western France.