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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After a whirlwind day with a small producer, I thought we should contrast that with one of the biggest producers in the Cognac business. At last count Rémy Martin was the #2 producer of Cognac, battling out for that spot with Martell and Courvousier, who are all neck and neck and tend to hand the…Read More
To know Cognac the spirit is to know Cognac the place. Cognac is the product of a minuscule region, rigorously protected by law and produced here and only here for centuries. This tiny town in the west of France is fully built by, for, and around the production of the world’s most famous brandy. “Without…Read More
We’ve reviewed countless special editions from iconic Cognac producer Hennessy over the years, but its core line has strangely eluded our pen. Today we begin to rectify that with a look at two stalwarts of Hennessy’s core line: VS and XO. Both are 80 proof. Hennessy VS Cognac – The entry level Hennessy is…Read More
Entrepreneur and media personality Raj Bhakta built a hallmark whiskey brand by founding WhistlePig, and he’s using his storytelling playbook to grow another — this time eponymous — spirits bottler with Bhakta Spirits. Known for launching with 50+ year old Armagnacs, Bhakta has more recently branched out into both younger brandy blends and single vintage…Read More
Armenia is one of the great, unsung brandy-producing regions of the world. This newly imported bottling is produced at Proshyan Distillery, one of the oldest distilleries in the country, founded in 1885. The brandy is made from the Mskhali and Kangun grapes, which come from the Ararat, Armavir, and Vayots Dzor regions. It is aged…Read More
The Year of the Rabbit officially began on January 22, and to mark the occasion our friends at Maison Ferrand have put together a special edition of Ferrand’s 10 Generations Cognac bottling. This one — which features a dramatic, red label — undergoes a second round of aging in Port wine casks (for an undetermined…Read More
Gonzalez Byass is one of the largest producers of sherry in Spain, and as any modern drinker knows, the demand for sherry barrels far outweighs the demand for sherry itself. Sherry barrel aging gives all manner of spirits a distinct character, and at some point, Gonzalez Byass figured out it should be making spirits of…Read More
We’re way behind on reviewing the standard edition expressions of Cognac from Remy Martin, but today we take a step toward remedying that with a look at the iconic Remy Martin XO, once of the most widely available and consumed XO brandies on the market. As Cognac goes, it’s about as harmless and straightforward as…Read More
La Maison & Velier is a French-Italian collaboration looking to bring an array of spirits into broader distribution, including whiskey and brandy. Today we look at the first five Armagnac bottlings from LM&V, all small production, single vintage, single cask offerings dating back to 1990 distillation dates. If you’ve heard of any of these producers…Read More
Humboldt Distillery is bringing the spirit of California to the wider spirits world. By prioritizing local and organic ingredients, their aim is to both capture the beauty of their local community and remain ever-mindful of their environmental impact on the world. It’s a fine mission that has already produced fine results in the form of…Read More