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Scientists Make Realistic Brandy in Days, Skipping Years of Fermentation -- How?

Feb 10, 2017 10:10 PM EST
Scientists Make Realistic Brandy In Days, Skipping Years Of Fermentation - Process Explained
Brandies like cognac are renowned for its flavors, colors and aromas that require years to achieve. However, scientists from Spain have used ultrasound to cut the time needed for these spirits to mature from years to days.
(Photo : Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Martell Caractere)

What if there is a way to skip the time needed to prepare alcohol? Beverages like brandies take years to achieve what some call an "optimum" taste. This is why cognac are very expensive, the right one is hard to find. However, scientists from Spain have found a way to reduce the time needed to create these alcohol from years to merely days.

The maturity of the brandies depend on the time they spend inside their casks and the environment where they settle. This means that as brandies grow older, the chemical reactions between the alcohol and the wood of the casks differ as well. This results in varying colors and tastes that allow people to choose their "preferred" brand. However, these reactions take time -- which is why high-quality products need years and even decades to be made.

However, the time of waiting has come to an end. Ultrasound -- the waves that cause tissues to release compounds at a higher rate -- can actually help extract chemicals from plant tissues. A little tinkering of ultrasound may allow the same chemicals to be released in the form of alcohol, and scientists want to check if the same effect can happen to brandy. 

In the newer study, the researchers applied ultrasound waves to distilled wine that is undergoing its aging process. As wine passes through oak chips, they are affected by the waves. The chemicals they released were similar to brandies that were kept for years.

The study, led by Valme Garcia of the University of Cadiz, Spain, had eight judges taste the chemicals. They all conceded that the products were almost as good as brandies in the market. This means an entirely new brand of brandies can be made with the help of ultrasound.

Unfortunately, the ultrasound-based alcohol cannot be considered brandies. European law states that only spirits aged in oak casks can be called brandies. 

For a bit of a background, Discovery Magazine explains that brandies or "burned wine" as powerful alcoholic spirits. Like other alcohol, they are made from fermented fruit juices and are distilled from wines. In fact, poet Samuel Johnson once said that heroes drink brandy while boys and men drink liquor and port, respectively.

This reputation of brandies meant they are really expensive to buy. According to tech firm Technavio, the market for brandy is expected to go beyond a whopping $63 billion by 2020. Just last 2011, there is a new world record in Shanghai for an 1858 cognac called the Cuvee Leonie that was sold for 1 million Chinese Yuan. 

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