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: Burwood Vodka, Gin, Honey Eau de Vie, and Medica Honey Liqueur

By Christopher Null | July 26, 2019 |

Alberta, Canada-based Burwood focuses on using local ingredients and “old world craftsmanship” to make white spirits — vodka and gin, mainly — and a wide range of liqueurs which it continues to expand at a rate of one new release each quarter. Today we look at four of the core products from the company, two…

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Review: E&J XO Extra Smooth Brandy

By Christopher Null | July 3, 2019 |

Any product that includes “extra smooth” in its name is never a promising introduction, but in picking up a mini of Ernest & Julio Gallo’s highest-end brandy — designated an XO release — for all of 99 cents, I figured the overall level of risk was very low. There’s no formal age information here —…

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Review: Metaxa Greek Spirit 12 Stars

By Christopher Null | July 2, 2019 |

Founded in 1888, Metaxa has endured as one of the most unique spirits of Greece, a blend of brandy made from dried grapes that is infused with sweet Muscat wine plus rose petals and other botanicals, then aged in Limousin oak barrels. Metaxa is available in a wide range of quality levels — we reviewed…

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Review: Bertoux Brandy

By Christopher Null | May 18, 2019 |

Bertoux is a new brandy developed by Jeff Menashe. Made in San Francisco, the spirit is a solera-style blend of pot-distilled California brandies aged 3 to 7 years old, aged in French and American oak. Consultants on the brand include bartender Jeff Bell (PDT and Legacy Records) and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak (The NoMad). As the…

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Review: Boulard Calvados Pays d’Auge VSOP Bourbon Cask Finish

By Christopher Null | April 5, 2019 |

The apple barons at Calvados Boulard have launched a new limited-edition expression that spins their widely available 4+ year old VSOP Calvados by finishing it in bourbon barrels. (Calvados is primarily aged in new oak or, more commonly, previously used Calvados barrels.) This expression is the first release in Boulard’s new 12 Barrel Collection, which…

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Review: Catoctin Creek Rabble Rouser Rye and 1757 Virginia Brandy XO

By Drew Beard | April 3, 2019 |

Catoctin Creek Distilling in tiny Purcellville, Virginia has a spirits portfolio dominated by rye whiskey. Why rye? Because they wanted to stay true to the earliest whiskey-making traditions of Virginia. While their whiskey offerings are exclusively rye, the core line-up includes several different proof options – 80 proof, 92 proof, and cask strength (which we’ll…

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Review: Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 3

By Christopher Null | March 18, 2019 |

In 2016, Hennessy began releasing one-off special editions called the Master Blender’s Selection. Master Blender’s Selection No. 1 and No. 2 were both well received, and now No. 3 continues the line, “a blend composed exclusively of high-quality eaux-de-vie with great potential that have been set aside specifically to be used at the Master Blender’s…

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Review: Camus XO Borderies Family Reserve Cognac

By Christopher Null | March 16, 2019 |

Cognac house Camus is out with its newest expansion to its Borderies-produced line of brandies, Camus XO Borderies Family Reserve. As is traditional for this producer, the Cognac is made from estate-grown grapes that are harvested from a single vineyard in the tiny Borderies region. It’s solid stuff. The nose is surprisingly woody and earthy,…

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Review: Catan Pisco

By Christopher Null | February 1, 2019 |

  Catan is a new pisco brand that arrived in late 2018, exclusively launching in Chicago. A Chilean variety of the spirit, it is the brainchild of Catalina Gaete, who oversees its production from organic Pedro Ximénez grapes in Ovalle, Chile. It’s one of the more easygoing piscos I’ve encountered to date, offering a nose that…

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Review: Hine Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2008 Cognac

By Christopher Null | February 1, 2019 |

Hine’s Bonneuil 2005 and 2006 — limited edition, single estate Cognac releases named after Hine’s 297 estate-managed acres at Bonneuil Village — are some of the finest middle-aged Cognacs you can find. The Bonneuil line skipped 2007, but now it’s back with a 2008 vintage release composed of just 16 casks, the smallest release in the…

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