Tuesday, January 1, 2013
2013: The Golden Age...of Brandy
While the golden age of whiskey is over, we may be on the cusp of a golden age of brandy. Just three or four years ago, it was difficult to find a Cognac in the US that wasn't caramel colored, flavored with wood pulp (boise) and diluted down to 40%. While rum, tequila and even once lowly mezcal saw specialty, higher strength bottlings from small producers, Cognac continued to be dominated by syrupy sweet spirit from the four large houses and Armagnac completely flew under the radar.
There are signs, however, that we are entering a brandy renaissance. Suddenly, we are seeing single barrel and cask strength, non-treated French brandies from small producers.
Another of the signs of a coming golden age is that for now, prices remain reasonable. Remarkably, forty year old brandies can still go for under $150. As whiskey prices continue to explode, brandy is a huge bargain with a more diverse flavor palate coming to the US every day.
Brandy today seems to be where whiskey was fifteen or even twenty years ago. As we know, golden ages don't last forever, so if you're a brandy fan, your time may be now, and if you're a whiskey fan, there is much to like about these new brandies.
And it's not just Cognac. Armagnac, Calvados and Spanish brandy are all starting to show some real promise. Over the next two weeks, I'll ring in 2013 by exploring the emerging golden age of brandy.