Difference between Rum and Brandy
By Theydiffer - March 6, 2016

Rum or brandy, it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, right? Wrong! While it may seem that both can provide you with the same level of intoxication, there are a few differences that should be noted. More importantly, it could even influence one’s own health conditions.



Brandy, also known as ‘brandywine’, derived its name from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’ which means burnt wine. Same as rum, it is a spirit that goes through the processes of distilling and fermenting. The primary ingredient however is not sugarcane, but wine. With its 35% to 60% ABV, it is normally used as an after-dinner drink. Brandy is made by distilling wine or fruit mash, and is usually aged in wooden casks. Some of the most renowned brandies are Cognac and Armagnac.

The origin of the brandy was kind of accidental. Initially, wine was distilled for preservation for trading and transport, and it was soon found that the result was acceptable as a beverage. The first commercial distillation of brandy from wine was in the 16th century.

Brandy Labels

  • V.S. – Known as the ‘Very Special’ or ‘Three Stars’, is a brandy that is aged for at least 2 years in a cask.
  • V.S.O.P. – Known as the ‘Very Superior Old Pale’ or ‘Five Stars’, is a brandy that is aged for at least 4 years in a cask.
  • XO – Known as the ‘Extra Old’ or Napoleon, is a brandy that is aged for at least 6 years in a cask.
  • Hors d’âge – Known as the ‘Beyond Age’, is a brandy that is formally equal to XO for Cognac, but for Armagnac, it is at least 10 years old.

Rum vs Brandy

What’s the difference between rum and brandy? While the color, alcohol by volume, and production of both may be similar in some way, these are two different types of spirits that shouldn’t be confused as the same.

In terms of their primary ingredient, rum is generally made from sugarcane byproducts such as the juice and molasses, while a brandy is made from wine, grapes, and other fruit juices. This may not be that important to most, but it is for those with allergic reactions. Regarding their alcohol content, rums normally have 37.5% to 80%, while brandies normally have 35% to 60%. In terms of their uses, brandy is usually consumed as an after dinner-drink, while rum is normally consumed as an alcoholic beverage for all kinds of occasions and, unlike brandy, is often served mixed with other drinks like coca-cola.

Comparison Chart

Made from sugarcane byproductsMade from wine, grapes, and other fruit juices
Normally 37.5% to 80% ABVNormally 35% to 60% ABV
First distillation was in the 17th centuryFirst distillation was in the 16th century
Preferred as an occasional drinkPreferred as an after-dinner drink