Organic brandy in Iraq?

That is a question often asked. However, it is actually very logical to make organic brandy in Iraq!

The mountains of northern and eastern Iraq are suitable for fruit growing since ancient times but this has been neglected in modern times. One of the products grown is grapes, for table grapes, in the past for raisins and a concentrate that was used as a sweetener. The large majority grapes is rain fed and grows in bushes. Water is the limiting factor. Thanks to the dry conditions, pests and diseases are rarely a problem. Soil cultivation and weed control is done by ploughing with donkeys and mules. Fertilization, if any, is with dried sheep or cow manure. Modern farmers may use herbicides but then production would fall as the soil benefits from the turning, the ploughing. The grapes can thus easily be certified as organically grown.


Iraq is actually one of the gene centers for grapes. Grape cultivation and wine making developed in Mesopotamia at least 2000 BC (source: The Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the oldest pieces of literature) before it spread to Europe and the rest of the world. The Ministry of Agriculture provided a long list of grape varieties being grown in North Iraq, a diversity worth to maintain.When investigating further it was found that alcohol distilling was actually invented in Mesopotamia by 2000 BC (source: Martin Levey, Evidences of ancient distillation, sublimation and extraction in Mesopotamia. In Centaurus, Volume 4, Issue 1, p. 23-33, March 1955) for medicinal and perfumery purposes. Ancient stills like in picture 1 where found in the fifties in the Nineveh plains.



"Old copper heads"
"Old copper heads"

The farmers claim that they make it according to a very old recipe. How old, nobody knows, it is not documented. Farmer use small scale, simple equipment.

There was also talk about particular copper heads. For the making of the brandy some local natural materials are used from the wild.