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: Spirits of French Lick Absinthe Le Bleu and Old Clifty Hoosier Apple Brandy (2021)

By Drew Beard | May 11, 2021 |

In addition to American whiskey and bourbon (one of which we just reviewed here), Indiana’s Spirits of French Lick also focuses on brandy and botanical spirits, including Indiana’s first commercial absinthe and a unique Calvados-style apple brandy. We received samples of each for review. Thoughts follow. Spirits of French Lick Absinthe Le Bleu (2021) –…

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Review: Ferrand S.D.A. Cognac (2021)

By Christopher Null | April 20, 2021 |

Maison Ferrand’s S.D.A. — Selection des Anges, the angels’ selection — is not a new expression, but the brand has recently retooled it, creating new packaging and upping the proof slightly from 80 to 83.6. We never reviewed the expression in its pre-Covid incarnation, but we’re digging in to a 2021 bottling all the same. It’s…

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Review: Larsen Cognac Aqua Ignis

By Christopher Null | April 7, 2021 |

Larsen’s new Aqua Ignis has a curious claim to fame: It is the first spirit in the world aged in steam-toasted barrels, specifically “triple-steamed brasero toasted barrels.” What does that mean? Instead of only toasting the barrels with open flame, they are immersed in hot water, then toasted in a brasero, causing the water to…

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Review: Hine Homage Cognac (2021)

By Christopher Null | March 25, 2021 |

Hine’s Homage is an homage to Thomas Hine, the English founder of the Hine brand back in 1763. The brandy itself is a Grand Champagne Cognac blended from more than 20 eaux-de-vie, again all made from Grande Champagne grapes. This blend is noteworthy as including four single vintages that are called “Early Landed,” which were…

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Review: Billionaires Row Brandy Cuvee XO

By Christopher Null | March 17, 2021 |

Congrats to all our billionaire readers. Now you have a spirit to call your own: Billionaires Row Brandy, which is a product of France but is neither Cognac nor Armagnac, per the packaging (though it does show up online frequently as the former). Other than knowing it’s French, there’s just not a lot of information…

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Review: Rome de Bellegarde XO Cognac

By Christopher Null | February 4, 2021 |

In 2018 the defunct Cognac brand Rome de Bellegarde made headlines when a shot of its brandy, produced in 1858, sold for more than $14,000, making it the most expensive shot of Cognac ever sold. Shortly thereafter, sensing an opportunity perhaps, the brand was revived by the latest generation of the Bellegarde family, and its…

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Review: Logía Pisco Puro Quebranta

By Robert Lublin | December 23, 2020 |

For roughly a decade, there has been talk of a Pisco revival as this distinctive grape distillate made in Peru and Chile has slowly become more available in the U.S. Recently, Piscologica introduced a Pisco certificate course that focuses on Peruvian Pisco, to educate discriminating drinkers about this appellation of origin spirit. We have detailed…

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Review: Frerot Extra Cognac

By Christopher Null | December 6, 2020 |

Frerot Extra is a 100% Grande Champagne Cognac made from eau-de-vies with an age ranging from 30 to 50 years old. That kind of age isn’t remotely common, so I approached this brandy with significant enthusiasm. Results? It’s perfectly agreeable, but to be honest, it’s vaguely disappointing. The nose is fragrant and floral, very light…

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Drinkhacker’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 26, 2020 |

At this point it feels safe to say that the 2020 holiday season will be unlike any other in our lifetimes. And while in-person gatherings may not be possible, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop exchanging gifts. In fact, in the world of booze, it’s easier than ever to ship a bottle of…

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Review: Bhakta 50 Armagnac Barrel 3

By Christopher Null | September 9, 2020 |

You may know Raj Bhakta best as the founder of WhistlePig. But you might have missed the news that Bhakta left WhistlePig last year and struck out in search of new ventures — and sure enough, he found a few of them. The first you’ll be seeing is called simply Bhakta 50, the product of…

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