Brandy is a spirit mostly made by distilling wine. The name comes from a Dutch word, brandewijn, which means “burned wine.” Two of the best-known and indeed best types of brandy, whose production is governed by strict rules, are Cognac and Armagnac, both from France. So, all Cognac is brandy but not all brandy is Cognac. Many wine-growing regions of the world also produce brandy, and the flavors vary according to both the types of grape used for the wine and the differing production processes. Most U.S. brandy comes from California. Brandy is also used as an ingredient in spirits such as Metaxa, a Greek spirit. A distinct type of brandy is fruit brandy, which is made from fruit juice, wine, or pulp from fruit other than grapes. Grappa, common in Italy, and the South American spirit called pisco are also types of brandy.

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santa fe apple brandy

Review: Spirits of Santa Fe Spirits – Apple Brandy, Wheeler’s Gin (2014), Silver Coyote Pure Malt Whiskey, and Expedition American West Vodka

By Christopher Null | April 9, 2014 |

Santa Fe Spirits is based, you guessed it, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Founded by Colin Keegan in 2010, the company now offers a range of five spirits, all with a southwestern bent and primarily column-distilled. We tasted four of them (all but the aged, single malt whiskey). Thoughts follow. Santa Fe Spirits Apple Brandy…

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vsop camus borderies

Review: Camus VSOP Elegance (2014) and VSOP Borderies Cognac

By Christopher Null | March 6, 2014 |

Here’s something you don’t see every day: A Borderies-grown Cognac… that’s also a youngish VSOP. Borderies, for those not in the know, is a small, very renowned grape-growing subregion of Cognac. Normally, Borderies bottlings are old XO expressions — which command even higher prices due to their regional pedigree. And while Camus does offer an…

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charbay no 89

Review: Charbay Brandy No. 89

By Christopher Null | February 1, 2014 |

Ukiah, California-based Charbay turned its alembic pot stills to crafting this brandy in the winter of 1989. The grapes used are 74% pinot noir and 26% sauvignon blanc. The distillate has since been mellowing in barrels made of oak from France’s Limousin and Nevers regions for 24 years. 22 of those barrels were bottled to…

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Drinkhacker’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 29, 2013 |

Back again by popular demand, it’s the Drinkhacker holiday gift guide — or our “best stuff of the year awards” if you want to go that route. As usual, this list is filtered through the lens of the holidays, designed to help you decide what you might buy for the loved ones on your shopping…

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Review: BarSol Pisco – Quebranta & Italia

By Christopher Null | November 26, 2013 |

Pisco is a spirit on the rise, and Peru’s BarSol makes a huge range of them — seven varieties at present. Below we look at two single-grape varieties, a quebranta and an italia, which are probably the two most common pisco grapes grown. Thoughts on each follow. Both are 80 proof. BarSol Primero Quebranta Pisco…

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Review: Hennessy Privilege VSOP Cognac

By Christopher Null | November 22, 2013 |

A new VSOP from Hennessy, meant to stand as an upgrade to the standard-grade Hennessy, and with a slightly higher price to match. Privilege is a perfectly acceptable brandy, with easy fruit on the nose, some raisins, some spice, and a little raspberry tea. The palate is warm, with applesauce notes, oranges, honey, and baking…

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Review: Camus Family Legacy Cognac

By Christopher Null | November 16, 2013 |

Camus Family Legacy arrived at Drinkhacker HQ with the most unfortunate typo. On our sample bottle, the price was listed as $12.99. That’s a mistake of two orders of magnitude. Camus’s latest is a full $1299 — the company’s entry into ultra-luxe spirits. The production process sounds impressive — five crus involved in an eight-step…

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Review: Martell Caractere Cognac

By Christopher Null | November 14, 2013 |

Martell recently launched this Cognac, a simple blend of brandies (in an admittedly snazzy bottle), with no age indication at all. In other words: This is entry-level Cognac, so let’s see how it tastes. On first blush it’s a clearly young spirit, somewhat brash on the nose, but tempered with notes of incense and, curiously,…

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Review: Manoir d’Apreval Calvados – Complete Lineup

By Christopher Null | November 5, 2013 |

Don’t call it apple brandy: It’s Calvados, the most exclusive of apple-based spirits and the only fruit brandy with a serious pedigree. Created by a family-owned estate of 25 hectares of apple trees (17 varieties are grown here) in France’s Pays d’Auge, on the banks of the Seine River, this French classic is making its…

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Review: Stoney Honey Infused Grappa

By Christopher Null | October 25, 2013 |

Is it a rarity or an oddity? Stoney Honey Infused Grappa is both. Distilled and bottled by St. George Spirits, this unique and very small batch project flavors grappa (no word on what grape varietals) with sage honey for Riverbench Winery. The nose offers lavender, eucalyptus, and light citrus. I’m immediately reminded of spa oils,…

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