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Spiritus Vini Gallici (U. S. P.)—Brandy.

Botanical name:

Preparation: Mistura Spiritus Vini Gallici.—Mixture of French Brandy
Related entry: Alcohol.—Alcohol

"An alcoholic liquid obtained by the distillation of the fermented, unmodified juice of fresh grapes, and at least 4 years old"—(U. S. P.).
SYNONYM: Spirit of French wine.

Source and History.—Brandy is the product obtained by distilling wine. The U. S. P. formerly required that French wines be used, but now admits the product of any grape wine that meets the official requirements. The greatest brandy-producing country is France, and the French brands most esteemed are known as Cognac and Armagnac, both of which are mild and agreeable in flavor. Next in order are the brandies of Bordeaux and Rochelle. Spain, Portugal, and Germany also produce considerable brandy. California and the vine-growing sections of the states now furnish large amounts of this spirit. As distilled from the wine in France it is first colorless and is known as white brandy; this is then put into casks made of new oak, which wood after a time imparts to the spirit a pale amber hue, when it is known as pale brandy. A preparation used as an addition to brandies or for making the imitation of brandy by mixing it with alcohol, is prepared in that country from the wine-lees and grape-marc, and has the name eau de vie de marc. It contains a large amount of odorous constituents, and when wholly or partially deprived of its alcohol constitutes commercial oil of grapes. California now furnishes large amounts of good brandy. The chief Ohio and Mississippi valley brandy is the Catawba, which, when prepared from the lees, has the Catawba wine flavor, but when prepared from the marc contains fusel oil and at first is unpleasant to the taste, but becomes mellow as it ages. All brandies are improved by age. There is marked variation in the flavor of different brandies depending upon the kind and condition of the grapes employed in making the wine, the care exercised in the preparation of it, and the age of the wine employed. The most fragrant brandy is that distilled from old wines. Compounded brandies are frequently on the market.

Description and Tests.—The U.S. P. demands that brandy conform to the following description: "A pale amber-colored liquid, having a distinctive odor and taste, and a slightly acid reaction. Its specific gravity should not be more than 0.941, nor less than 0.925, corresponding, approximately, to an alcoholic strength of 39 to 47 per cent by weight or 46 to 55 per cent by volume"—(U. S. P.). The odor of brandy is due to certain ethers which occur in minute amounts; the chief of these are oenanthic and acetic ethers, and possibly propylic and related ethers (see enumeration of volatile constituents in Amer. Jour. Pharm., 1886, p. 427). Tannin from the oak casks and altered sugar from the caramel often employed to color it are present. The odor of good brandy remains for several hours distinct in the glass from which it has been poured.

"If 100 Cc. of brandy be very slowly evaporated in a tared capsule on a water-bath, the last portions volatilized should have an agreeable odor free from harshness (absence of fusel oil from grain or potato spirit); and the residue, when dried at 100° C. (212° F.), should not weigh more than 1.5 Gm. This residue should have no sweet or distinctly spicy taste (absence of added sugar, glycerin, or aromatic substances). It should almost completely dissolve in 10 Cc. of cold water, forming a solution which is colored not deeper than light-green by a few drops of dilute ferric chloride T.S. made by mixing the latter with 10 volumes of water (absence of more than traces of oak tannin from casks). To render 100 Cc. of brandy distinctly alkaline to litmus should require not more than 1 Cc. of potassium hydrate V.S. (limit of free acid)"—(U. S. P.).

Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—The general effects of brandy are those mentioned under alcohol (see Alcohol). It is, however, when pure, more palatable and grateful to the stomach than other alcoholics, and is less likely to occasion renal and hepatic diseases. Mixed with milk and sweetened with sugar it is extensively used in low forms of fever, and in threatened collapse it may be injected hypodermatically. The dose of brandy is determined largely by the condition of the patient demanding it.


King's American Dispensatory, 1898, was written by Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D., and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.



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