Review: Germain-Robin Select Barrel XO Brandy

Craft Distillers’ Germain-Robin makes just ten barrels a year of this California brandy, now featuring a blend of 12 varietal brandies, seven of which are Pinot Noir. At 17 years of age, this spirit is young and a little brash by European standards but stands now as one of the best American brandies being produced today. The spirit offers an intense caramel nose, then apple and pear fruit. Modest wood, and a butterscotch finish. Despite the XO moniker, it’s a young brandy, but a pretty charming one nonetheless. Fruity and easy to drink, and while it works with a fruit-filled dessert, I think it’s best as a pre-dinner quaff.

B+ / $100 / craftdistillers.com

germain robin xo brandy Review: Germain Robin Select Barrel XO Brandy

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4 Responses to Review: Germain-Robin Select Barrel XO Brandy

  1. Nice review. I’ve always appreciated this brandy for being bolder, more fruit-forward, and less tannic than many of its European competitors. As you point out, it is younger than my XO Cognacs within its price range; but even so I agree that it brings enough game to merit a solid B+. Plus it feels good supporting a uniquely crafted domestic brandy. It’s worth noting that this brandy is also readily available in less expensive 375ml bottles, which is a price-break practice that I wish more Cognac brands would emulate… especially given this ongoing recession.

  2. Cognac regulations for XO are simple: minimum age = 6 years. Almost all cognacs exaggerate the age of their XOs by providing only the age of the oldest component. Big cognac houses frequently age in huge vertical tuns holding a few thousand liters in which aging effects are minimal compared to the standard 350L cognac barrel. I believe that the G-R XO is actually older in average time spent in small barrels than many XO cognacs.

  3. I don’t purchase standard-range Remy Martin, Hennessy, Courvoisier, Meukow, or Martell products because of the lack of precise information available about their maturation–beyond largely uninformative official quality grades. And because they’re boring. Courvoisier 21 seems novel, but I’ve not tried it and I’m no expert, so who knows… maybe it’s not. No, I was specifically thinking that while Germain-Robin XO may have seemed a shade younger to my palate than some other XO monikered Cognacs I’ve enjoyed (Daniel Bouju XO, Ragnaud Sabourin XO, and Château de Beaulon XO Vintage 1971 and 1975); it is also so luscious, unique, and fairly priced that I couldn’t care less how old it is.

  4. The single-grape releases, specially Pinot Noir, are very good.

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