Making brandy

I recently purchased a still.  It turns out that New Zealand is practically the only country in the world where it is legal to distill alcohol for personal consumption without a licence.   Below are my notes on the whole process so far...

The still is beautiful.  I did a lot of research and discovered that I needed a pot still as I was trying to retain fruit essence rather than simply producing alcohol.  Apparently most people just want alcohol which they add artificial flavours to.  Go figure...   Anyway I purchased from purely for function but it ended up being a work of art that I'm quite happy to leave out.

It turns out that alcohol isn't the only thing you can make with a still.  You can also distill flowers or other vegetable matter to make essential oils and something called a 'hydrosol'.  The hydrosol is similar to essential oils in that it contains the essence that you've distilled, but is water-based and far weaker which makes it much easier to use.  If I was more into betting then I would bet that there will be a huge business opportunity creating hydrosol over the next couple years.

So far my attempts to make brandy have been largely unsuccessful.  I thought I'd shortcut the process of creating a mash by using wine, and since I was going for a fruity brandy I picked Banrock Station's 'fruit fusion'.  This had the added benefit of being lower in alcohol - the still I was using multiplied the alcohol content by 3.5 and I like my brandy around 37%.

Unfortunately while the result smells reasonably good, it tastes... pretty awful really.  Far worse than anything I've ever bought anyway.  I'm not sure if I started with the wrong raw product or if I did something very wrong in the process. Anyway, next time I'm intending to make pear brandy - I just need to find an affordable source of pears as the ratio is apparently 10kg of fruit for 500mL of brandy.