The bonded spirits almost always finds a home with whiskey (particularly bourbon and sometimes rye). But there’s no rule that other liquor products can’t go through the bonding process, which involves storing the product in barrel in a special, government-regulated warehouse for at least four years, and bottling the finished product at 100 proof. The bottled-in-bond seal is a mark of quality, and everyone seems to love a “BiB” whiskey.
So… how about a bottled-in-bond brandy? Christian Brothers (part of Heaven Hill, which knows a thing or two about the bonded whiskey world) just launched one: Sacred Bond (get it?), a pot-distilled brandy that goes through the full rigmarole. It’s the first ever bottled-in-bond grape brandy produced (there are some BiB apple brandies out there).
Those used to (or looking for) sticky-sweet brandy won’t find it here. Sacred Bond is distinctly oaky on the nose, with curious notes of apple peels, salted caramel, strong tea, and just a hint of raisin. The palate is striking and unexpected. Again, any sense of sugar is nearly absent here, the brandy pumping out woody tannins, menthol, and some hospital notes. The impact of wood is so strong that my hands want to type “whiskey” every time I have to write “brandy,” but the follow-up notes of cayenne, plum, and saffron are entirely unique and far away from the typical whiskey character list. The finish is drying, spicy, and aromatic, but it’s a bit rough on the back of the throat, something I don’t chalk up entirely to the alcohol level.
This is a unique brandy that’s clearly designed for cocktails, but some may find its whiskeylike kick more suitable for exploring solo. Your mileage may vary.
B / $26 / christianbrothersbrandy.com