What Is Cypriot about Cyprus Brandy?

Brandy is a distillation made from fruit, usually grapes. The production process is simple: the liquified fruit is fermented before it is heated at a temperature above the boiling point of alcohol

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Brandy is a distillation made from fruit, usually grapes. The production process is simple: the liquified fruit is fermented before it is heated at a temperature above the boiling point of alcohol and below that of water; the distillate contains most of the alcohol, some water, and organic compounds that give the brandy its distinctive taste. One of the most celebrated brandies, Calvados, is made from apples in the Normandy region of France. Another kind of brandy made from fruits other than grapes is known as eau-de-vie (water of life); these are clear, aromatic distillations such as framboise (raspberry) and kirsch (cherry). Of the grape-based brandies of the Mediterranean region, perhaps the best known come from Metaxa. Spyros Metaxa of Greece founded his distillery in the nineteenth century; its production maintains a focus on hand-harvested muscat grapes from the Greek island of Samos. Cyprus, too, has a storied tradition of brandy making. Cyprus brandy is made by distilling fermented grapes of the xynisteri variety. Xynisteri is the most widely-grown white grape on the island. Indigenous, it is used to produce white wines and is also a key ingredient of Commandaria dessert wine and zivania—all unique to Cyprus. The Keo distillery uses xynisteri to make Five Kings Brandy, which is aged for at least fifteen years before bottling. It tastes of warmed raisins and can be enjoyed neat or as the basis of a brandy sour, the national cocktail of Cyprus. Try any of these brandies in the cosy confines of Annabelle’s Byz Bar.