Review: Korbel California Brandy

Review: Korbel California Brandy

Korbel California Brandy — made right here and aged a mere 2 years in oak barrels — is hardly the elevated brandy experience Cognac drinkers have become accustomed to, which is why this is usually sold in two sizes: 200ml and 1.75 liters, the latter of which will run you a mere 20 bucks.

It’s a harmless brandy, but nothing special, clearly doctored heavily to sweeten it into easy palatability. The nose is lightly woody but otherwise well-loaded with brown sugar and raisins, plus a rustic note that sees just a touch of raw alcohol. The palate follows suit, extremely sweet but also seeing a moderate current of underbrush, growing increasingly earthy as the finish builds. Frankly, though, there’s so much sweetness here that it’s tough for much of anything else to get through — for better or for worse. And, let’s be honest, cheap brandy can easily get a whole lot worse than this.

Korbel has also been pitching its brandy as a simple “Bubbly and Brandy” combination, in conjunction with is Prosecco. Historically a Champagne Cocktail mixes an ounce of brandy with a glass of Champagne, sugar cube, and Angostura bitters, but you can make it a two-ingredient version if you’re looking for something ultra-simple. Feel free to switch up your brands, of course.

80 proof.

C+ / $20 per 1.75 liter bottle / [BUY IT NOW FROM TOTAL WINE]

Korbel California Brandy




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Joe on April 28, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Half of all Korbel brandy is sold in Wisconsin where it is used in the abomination they call an “Old Fashioned”.

    • Lori Tucker on December 26, 2022 at 12:42 pm

      Wisconsin doesn’t need snobs like you, Joe. I’m happy to get up each day in the clean, north woods air, surrounded by gorgeous wildlife, and not petty fools like Joe. Time to go have brunch at a sweet, old supper club that serves a delicious muddled brandy Old Fashioned ?

  2. Phillip on April 29, 2020 at 6:43 am

    If they ever make it again for widespread distribution, or if you get your hands on the Korbel 12, that was very enjoyable, highly recommended.

  3. Kevin Grunwald on January 20, 2023 at 7:23 pm

    For many years I have been sipping Korbel Extra Smooth, Have enjoyed every sip till my last purchase.
    My latest purchase is nothing like what I have been used to, when savoring as usual my last purchase is no
    different than a cheap brandy, instead of the usual warm feeling upon sipping there’s a cheap liquor bite.
    I don’t understand how a fine product can change to the quality of a skidrow product overnight

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.