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This blog provides information for educational purposes only. Read our complete summary for more info.

September 18, 2014
Last updated

How to Make Apple Brandy

Owner of Clawhammer Supply

Brandy is created by distilling fruit wine. After the fruit has been fermented into a wine, the wine is then distilled to produce a strong, clear spirit with the essence of fruit it was made from.

Overview of Brandy

Traditionally Brandy was distilled in pot stills; today column stills are often used, as they can be used for continuous distillation. Brandy obtained from a column still has a higher alcohol concentration but is less aromatic than brandy distilled from a pot still. The style of still depends on the style of brandy produced. Cognac (a popular French Brandy) is produced in pot stills while many American brandies often use fractional distillation in column stills. It is thought that wine was first distilled as a preservation method and as a way to make it easier for merchants to transport.

Speaking of traditional brandy such as Cognac, here's an article on how to make traditional brandy using fermented grape juice. And because brandy can be made with all types of fruit, here's a plumb brandy recipe as well as a peach brandy recipe.

After distillation, the clear brandy is often placed into oak barrels to mature. Brandies with a natural golden or brown color most likely have been aged in oak casks. Some brandies mostly from Spain, are aged in a system where the spirit is transferred to a different barrel each year. After a period of aging, which depends on the style, class and legal requirements, the mature brandy is mixed with distilled water to reduce alcohol concentration and bottled.

Brandy connoisseurs already know that Calvados, for example, is an apple brandy from the French region of Lower Normandy. Calvados is distilled from apple cider which is made from over 200 varieties of locally grown apples. The fruit is harvested and pressed into a cider which is then fermented into a dry cider. Once it is fermented it is distilled and aged for 2 years in oak casks. The longer it is aged, the smoother the drink becomes.

For those that have not tried brandy, we suggest starting with one of these great cocktails: Brandy Sour, the Brandy Alexander, the Sidecar, the Brandy Daisy, or the Brandy Old Fashioned.

Fruit Brandy Basics

Pears, apples, grapes, peaches and plums are all great fruits which can be processed into wine. Though, something to keep in mind is that if the wine is being made from berries, sugar is typically added, as berries are lower in sugar than other types of fruit.

The Legality of Making Apple Brandy

Before we get into the details, it should be noted that this article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It isn't meant be advice or used as the basis for any act or decision whatsoever. Also, a reminder: Distilling alcohol is illegal without a federal fuel alcohol or distilled spirit plant permit as well as relevant state permits. Our distillation equipment is designed for legal uses only. Please read our complete legal summary for more information on the legalities of distillation. That said, the following is how a commercial distiller would likely make apple brandy.

How To Make Apple Brandy 

Making apple brandy requires 3 steps:

  1. Breaking down the apples and extracting the juice.
  2. Fermenting the apple juice.
  3. Distilling the fermented apple juice.
  4. An optional 4th step would be to age the distilled brandy in a wood barrel.

Making apple brandy requires one to round up a fair amount of fruit. Using a rule of thumb, 16 pounds of apples will yield about 1 gallon of cider. 1 gallon of cider will only yield about a pint of brandy. So, commercial producers typically need thousands upon thousands of apples to make their products!

To simplify this process and make it easier to understand we'll describe the process that a commercial distiller would use if they scaled the recipe down for a 5 gallon pilot system test batch. For this they would need roughly 80 pounds of apples. and the process would look something like this:

  • The apples would be rinsed.
  • They apples would juiced using a fruit press.
  • The juice would then be treated to eliminate wild yeast
    • This can be done using campden tablets
    • This can also be done by lightly pasturing
  • Commercially produced yeast would be pitched after eliminating wild yeast and bacteria.
  • The product would be distilled.
  • It may also be aged after distillation.

We actually completed a very similar project (minus the distillation process) in order to make homemade cider. Check out the following videos for more information.

Remember, making beer, wine, and hard cider is legal almost everywhere in the United States. However, it is illegal to distill alcohol without proper federal, state, and local permits. Read our complete legal summary for more information.


Kyle Brown is the owner of Clawhammer Supply, a small scale distillation and brewing equipment company which he founded in 2009. His passion is teaching people about the many uses of distillation equipment as well as how to make beer at home. When he isn't brewing beer or writing about it, you can find him at his local gym or on the running trail.

  • please add me to your list

    Posted by on November 13, 2021
  • Can I be added to the list so I can read the answers. I have so much to learn.

    Posted by Steve on December 02, 2020
  • Hi I’ve read everyone’s questions and i notice.. no answers… Let me ask my question anyhow cos I’m special

    Posted by Dumass on December 02, 2020
  • is better to cook a fruit mash. befor adding the yeast, or just let the controlled ferment happen

    Posted by on April 20, 2020
  • I got one of you 5 gallon kits a few years ago have had fun with it. Bought a proofing parrot too. Curious about cuts using the parrot.

    Posted by on August 12, 2019
  • If I wanted to make a run of approximately 12 gallons, how much cider would i need and would I need to add sugar if I wanted 150 proof. Hypothetically
    Thank you

    Posted by Rob on April 22, 2019
  • Can I just buy some proper scrumpy (roger Wilkins ) for example and distill that??

    Posted by Mick on July 20, 2018
  • Guys great article thanks for the information will be trying this soon

    Posted by Denboy on April 03, 2018
  • I have a homemade Column still with a valve on my reflux line. If I shut off the reflux and run purely on temperature control, will it yield similar results to a basic pot still with regards to flavor?

    Posted by ALex on September 23, 2017
  • Ok I have a 20 gallon copper still with thumper, I am looking to make Apple Moonshine… Would like to make 10 to 12 gallons…. have 55 gallon drum,,, just picked up 40 gallons of spring water from well…. which I was told would make 10 12 gallons…

    1) How many pounds of apples do I need?
    2) pounds of sugar
    3) yeast?

    would like to see around 150 proof…..


    Posted by chris on August 21, 2017
  • I don’t see any indication of the alcoholic content in any of the Apple brandies. What is the alcohol percentage in Calvados, for example?
    Thank you.

    Posted by Michael Wormser on May 22, 2017
  • Orange /black cherry with coconut sugar fomenting in a basement. Going to make brandy in about a month will let you know how it came out

    Posted by Mike on December 29, 2016
  • Can you add me to your list so that I can read the answers to the questions – which would be my questions

    ( From the UK)

    Posted by Malcolm on August 02, 2016
  • I run 2.5lbs of green apples in 5 gal buckets of brandy mash. I add a capful of yeast to warm water, let it set overnight, and then add 4lbs of sugar and yeast mixture to my diced apples in the 5gal bucket filled 1" from the top with the mixture and distilled water. This mixture sets 2 weeks. I like to sour 3 of these mixtures so that the distilling renders a larger amount. when distilling I use the first run at 1gal of distilled output per 6 gals of sour apple mash ran (about 65 proof)the second run I pull out 2 of the smaller mason jars per 6 gals of sour apple mash ran (about 130 proof). the proof of the mix varies depending upon the temperature. in the winter months I get a weaker brew. Summer I get the best results. I dice up a few apples and line the bottom of the jar before filling them. seal them and let them set for a least a week. This gives a nice pleasant aroma to the brandy, and knocks some of the bite off of it.

    Posted by Joey on February 10, 2016
  • i plan on using a column still to run 5 gallons of hard cider. My concern is flavor. I want to avoid “gasoline”. Can I add cut apples to the top of the column to impart an apple flavor?

    Posted by Tom on December 09, 2015
  • wow everone heres so stupid they think if you age a wine its a brandy.. Brandy is created when (natural wine is distilled like moonshine.. just instead of crapy corn mash (corn and water) they use expensive wine and destill it..

    No just becuase you have aged wine means nothing..still good shit but not brandy

    Posted by ky on November 20, 2015
  • Hi. when distilling wine to brandy do you need to degas it first?

    Posted by Lamar on August 22, 2015
  • I noticed in your recipe that you did not mention the amount of sugar or no need to add sugar.

    Posted by rick fernando on July 31, 2015
  • hi i have just come across a batch of apple wine i had fermenting for about 17years in my parents house and it’s a real nice smooth sweet taste what would this be wine or brandy?

    Posted by billy on February 01, 2015
  • What should your first reading be before fermentation begins?

    Posted by Greg on December 24, 2014

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