When it comes to drinking brandy, thoughts of old men in smoky rooms smoking cigars come to mind. Think again. Brandy has been making a comeback in the alcohol industry with millennials searching far and wide for the best brandy brands to sip after their dinner parties or to mix into fruity cocktails.
Brandy is a distilled spirit produced from fermented fruit juice. Usually, the fruit used is grapes although other fruits such as apple, apricot and peach are also used to make brandy occasionally.
Styles of alcohol such as brandy such as cognac, armagnac, pisco and eau-de-vie are also classified under the brandy umbrella. It is enjoyed around the world and is generally sweet and fruity.
Cognac vs brandy
The difference between cognac and brandy is just like champagne and sparkling wine. This means that Cognac must be made in the Cognac region of France only. Brandy can be made anywhere in the world.
Top Brandy Choices
The following are our top picks for the best brandy brands or bottles:-
The Remy Martin XO is produced through the blending of up to 400 different eau-de-vie. The combination of 85 percent of product sourced from the Grande Champagne region and 15 percent of product taken from the Petite Champagne region has produced a fine, popular, and best brandy.
The Remy Martin XO has an aroma of dark chocolate, port wine cask, exotic spice and figs. On the palate, notes of white and red grapes, apricot, nutmeg, cinnamon, honey and caramel fill the mouth. This brandy should be enjoyed neat or with ice.
A complex brandy, it leaves brandy lovers wanting more, be it novices or experts.
Louis XII cognac is often considered the most unique spirit in the entire world. At approximately RM30,000 (US$ 7,500), the premium price is justified by its incredibly intricate production process and seals its place as one of the best brandies in the world.
Each bottle of the Remy Martin Louis XIII is composed from 1,200 individual eau-de-vie from Grande Champagne vineyards that range from a minimum of 50 years up to 100 years in age.
Known for its light yet complex flavours, a sip is reminiscent of grass and earth. Notes of grapefruit, incense, flowers, wood and raisins with an oaky finish fill the room as a bottle is opened. It is indeed a bottle of the best cognacs that every brandy lover should try at least once.
Stunning and complex, the Remy Martin Louis XII cognac is indeed a favourite among many.
It is very likely that you have heard of the brand Hennessy. The very thought of Hennessy as a premium brandy is actually pretty common. It is indeed premium and a staple all on its own. Created in 1870, the X.O actually means ‘extra old’ cognac.
The Hennessy X.O is distilled at the Hennessy distillery in France. A blend of 100 different eau-de-vie made from Ugni grapes from Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fin Bois appellations, each bottle is a deep amber colour that features a blend of all the above grapes. This best cognac is aged for up to 30 years in French Limousin oak barrels.
Notes of orange, black pepper, cocoa and oak followed by a palate full of prunes, raisins and sticky toffee pudding fill the mouth. The long, cinnamon-dusted finish just prolongs the enjoyment of this brandy!
A bottle of many layers, Courvoisier XO brandy is one of the finest cognacs in the world. Each bottle combines beautifully matured eau-de-vie that has been aged from 11 to 25 years.
A smooth and delicious yet complex brandy, the Courvoisier XO is perfect for all occasions and celebrations. Retailing at approximately RM700 (US$ 175), it is affordable to many and you are definitely getting more than you paid for.
A bottle of Courvoisier XO cognac boasts a deep flavour of oak, violet and strawberry. Notes of apricot, brown sugar and cacao waft through the air. Very popular among brandy lovers, a bottle of this famous brandy should be added to every spirit collection.
Another renowned brand, the Martell XO is an especially smooth brandy. Known for its velvety smoothness, the uniquely-shaped bottle contains premium, gold-amber premium brandy that goes down without a burn.
The Martell XO includes eau-de-vie from Martell’s four main terroirs. Enjoy it neat, with a splash of water or with ice to totally maximise all the subtle nuances and delicious textures you will experience with this drink.
Notes of black pepper, fig, almond and sandalwood hits you first. As for its tasting notes, the Martell XO has notes of citrus, blossom and walnut.
A subsidiary of Remy Martin, St Rémy comes with over a century of experience, craftsmanship and history. Created in 1886, the St Rémy VSOP is bottled in the Loire Valley before being shipped around the world. The eau-de-vie is aged in small French oak barrels. Distilled and aged until just the right moment, the Master Blender always manages to capture the unique, mellow and well-rounded aromas.
A rounded, balanced spirit that is not too strong on the palate, the St Rémy VSOP is rather easy to drink.
Although it is the world’s number one choice when it comes to the best French brandy, the prices come in astoundingly low at only approximately RM180 (US$ 45) for a 70cl bottle. Wow! This opens up many opportunities for potential brandy lovers without much of a budget to try a bottle.
The Wilthener brandy distillery is one of the oldest distilleries located in Germany. Established in 1842, only the most exquisite distilled spirits are created at this distillery. On the 175th anniversary of the said brandy distillery, the Wilthener Cask Grande Brandy XO was created to honour this occasion.
Composed using decades of Grande Champagne and Fine Bois distillates, the individual distillates are stored in selected small limousin oak barrels. What is so special about this brandy, however, is the finish in the original Parisian barrel from 1900. The name also stands for the Parisian barrel – ‘Distilled in France – matured in Germany’.
Hine Antique XO
The Hine Antique XO Premier Cru is well loved for its caramel, jasmine, nutmeg and vanilla flavour notes. First released in 1920, this best cognac is made from a blend of eau-de-vie that comes from the Grande Champagne region. This blend actually comes from over 40 different cognacs that have been aged for more than 10 years.
Hine Antique XO is slightly spicy yet very rich. When sipping, the drink features a unique combination of perfume and spice. A beautiful zingy finish just tops it all off, leaving brandy lovers pretty satisfied.
Bols Apricot Brandy is a cognac with hints and aromas of juicy apricots. Rich and full of flavour thanks to fresh apricot juice and crushed apricot fruit kernels, this drink is a delicious addition to multiple cocktails such as the Nacional Daiquiri, Mai Tai, Apricot Fizz and Apricot Brandy Sour.
The golden amber colour matches its flavour of a faint amaretto and tones of orange.
Particularly for those who favour sweeter brandy, the Bols Apricot Brandy which is retailing at approximately RM100 (US$ 25), this sweet, tasty brandy is a very popular and affordable option for brandy lovers.
Asbach 8 Year Old Brandy
Asbach is a German brandy. Matured in small French limousin oak casks, the Asbach 8 Year old is an award winning best brandy that is full of rich and spicy flavours. Smooth and warm, the brandy is an inexpensive yet great choice of brandy.
The Asbach 8 is known for being a bit more fiery than the standard brandy. Promising to deliver great flavour, this is best enjoyed neat, on ice, with water or in cocktails.
With this best brandy brand, you get a well-developed flavour of fruits. In the background, notes of almond and spices fill the mouth. It is delicate, woody and complex all at once, which makes it a great addition to any bar cart.
Torres 10 Grande Reserva Brandy
The Torres 10 is one of Bodegas Torres oldest brandies. Created and released in 1946, the top brandy has used the same distillation method and ageing process throughout the years to continue releasing this excellent brandy.
Consisting of Xarel lo, Macabeo and Parellada grapes, a wine mixture is first produced and then aged in American oak barrels into a delicious brandy.
Rich, intense and incredibly smooth, this is indeed a quality Spanish brandy. When sipping this brandy, tastes of sweet grape, wood and nuts fill the mouth in a light body. This brandy should be a staple in every home!
Bertoux Brandy is produced in California. Some of the finest grapes are combined to produce a delicious, special spirit that is perfect for making cocktails!
Pot-distilled and aged from three to seven years in French and American oak, Bertoux prides itself on creating a range of offerings that are blended yet balanced and full of vibrancy.
Featuring hints of raisins and dark chocolate, this bottle from the best brandy brand has a dark amber colour and a strong aroma of candied apricot, orange blossom and honeysuckle. Clean and engaging, it is a must have for bartenders everywhere.
With so many great types of brandy, it is really difficult to choose the best of the best. As each bottle differs in terms of tasting profile and each person’s preferences are different, it is best to just try as many types as possible before concluding which is your favourite. The above list is a really good place to start.
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