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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Review: Camus Extra Elegance Cognac

By Christopher Null | June 25, 2012 |

We’ve been mega-fans of the Camus line of Cognac — currently rare in the U.S. but popular around the world (check out duty-free for some amazing deals on the stuff, btw) — for quite a while, and now the distillery is releasing a new expression to top its already high-end XO bottling: Camus Extra Elegance.…

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dimmi liquore di milano

Review: Dimmi Liquore di Milano

By Christopher Null | May 10, 2012 |

The Italian answer to gin and absinthe, Dimmi is an old (1930s) product now making a resurgence. Distilled in the Lombardy region in Italy’s north, Dimmi is distilled from organic wheat (like a vodka) and infused with licorice, orange peel, rhubarb, ginseng, and vanilla. Following this infusion, peach and apricot blossoms are infused into the…

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Review: Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine and Peach Brandy

By Christopher Null | May 9, 2012 |

Built atop the underground distilling and bootlegging operation of the gangster Dutch Schultz (and on family land now owned by co-founder Alex Adams), Dutch’s Spirits is a new New York-based distillery that’s attacking the spirits industry with some unexpected products — no gin or whiskey here, be warned! We tasted Dutch’s two inaugural spirits. Thoughts…

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Review: Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac VSOP and XO Imperial

By Christopher Null | May 4, 2012 |

Montesquiou… man, that is a lot of vowels. It is also the producer of a lot of Armagnacs. Formerly part of the Pernod family, it’s now being imported by ImpEx, repackaged, and expanding into broader U.S. distribution. We tasted both the VSOP and XO bottlings. Both are 80 proof and made from eaux de vie…

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Tasting Report: Whiskies of the World Expo San Francisco 2012

By Christopher Null | April 19, 2012 |

Kudos to Douglas Smith for putting together this event, easily the best installment of the Whiskies of the World show that I’ve experienced since I started this blog six years ago. Loaded with whiskies you rarely see in the U.S. or even at whisky shows, WotW 2012 also had plenty of long-time favorites on hand…

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Review: Pisco 100

By Christopher Null | March 21, 2012 |

Pop quiz: What’s the proof level of Pisco 100? 84 proof, of course! The origin of Pisco 100’s name is unclear, but this Peruvian Pisco — an “acholado” style blended of distillate from several grape varietals — is a pungent example of the spirit. On the nose, traditional Pisco character — jet fuel, aromatic pine…

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daron calvados

Review: Daron Calvados Fine Pays D’Auge

By Christopher Null | February 25, 2012 |

We don’t drink much apple brandy round these parts, either domestic or foreign. Daron is the Calvados brand you’re probably most likely to encounter in the wild. There’s not a lot of information about the brandy’s provenance available (it’s Daron’s entry-level spirit), but it comes from the Pays d’Auge region of France, which is widely…

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C by Courvoisier cognac

Review: C by Courvoisier Cognac

By Christopher Null | February 18, 2012 |

All brands must expand, and Courvoisier has been on a tear lately. First Courvoisier Rose, now C by Courvoisier. Unlike the Rose, C is a full Cognac, blended from spirits produced from grapes from 50 winegrowers in the Fin Bois Cru, a somewhat lesser Cognac region surrounding Grand Champagne and Petite Champagne. That’s understandable: There…

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Review: Kappa Pisco

By Christopher Null | January 19, 2012 |

Just when you thought it was safe to put the old Pisco Wars to rest (you were fighting in the Pisco Wars, weren’t you?), Kappa comes along and dredges it back up again. You see, unlike the vast majority of modern Piscos, Kappa hails from Chile, not Peru, the latter of which has long claimed…

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Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac

Review: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac

By Christopher Null | December 12, 2011 |

Cognac Ferrand’s latest release says, “Out with the old, in with the… old?” Designed with the help of cocktail wunderkind David Wondrich, Ferrand’s 1840 Original Formula is a “Revival” Cognac, blended and aged in an attempt to emulate what a 19th century style spirit might have tasted like — hence the name. Wondrich and Ferrand’s…

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