Thursday, June 27, 2013
Brandy de Jerez: Sherried Brandy
If you like sherried Scotch, you should try Spanish Brandy de Jerez. The Spanish brandy is required to be aged in sherry casks which impart many of the same notes that are found in sherried whiskey. Today I taste some popular Spanish brandies. (Also see my previous review of the Navazos Palazzi Single Olorso Cask)
Gran Duque D'Alba Solera Gran Reserve, 40% ($45)
Purportedly aged for 12 years, the nose on this brandy is pure, sweet dried fruit with the faintest hint of sulfur. The palate is full of very sweet sherry, dried fruit covered with a teaspoon of sugar, a slight orange rind note comes in late palate which makes it interesting. There's a hint of oak in the finish.
This stuff is exceedingly sweet, so much so that I'd guess it has added sugar, which is fairly common in brandy, but it's also exceedingly drinkable. I wish it was higher proof and not quite as sweet, but I also finished it pretty quickly. At 40%, it just slides down. It's not complex, but it's fun.
This reminds me of a tasting I did with a former chemist turned distiller. He was going on about the various element of whiskey and other spirits and their effect on the product when he asked what effect sugar had on a spirit. Several people threw out guesses having to do with molecular structure and bonding, but his answer was, "It makes stuff taste good." And so it does.
Cardenal Mendoza Gran Reserva, 40% ($30-$40)
This is another very sweet one. The nose is sweet sherry. The palate is very sweet but without too much else. A slight earthy note comes in later and gives it a bit of a boost into the finish, but overall, it's just a one-note sugar bomb. If you're looking for something sweet and drinkable, I prefer the Gran Duque D'Alba.
Lepanto Pedro Ximenez, 40% ($45)
The Lepanto brand is owned by Spanish spirits company Gonzalez Byass, which also owns Tio Pepe fino sherry. Their brandies are made from 100% Palomino grapes. This expression is aged for 12 years in Tio Pepe casks and then three years is Pedro Ximenez sherry casks.
The nose on this is tangy, dry sherry. The palate, though, is quite sweet with lots of bold fruit notes, including raisins and stone fruit. The finish has that same, slightly tangy fruit note.
This is a bit of a one-note, but it's a good note, another very drinkable sherry.
Lepanto Oloroso Viejo, 40% ($60)
Made by Spanish spirits company Gonzalez Byass, this is a 15 year old aged for ten years in in Tio Pepe fino sherry casks and five years in Oloroso casks. It is made from 100% Palomino grapes.
The nose on this is a very dry sherry. The palate follows suit with a very dry sherry note with some oak and earthy flavors coming in at the end and into the finish with a very slight bitterness. It's a bit more interesting than the first two, though not quite as drinkable.
Well, this was a good contrast in sweet and dry Brandies de Jerez. This is definitely a spirit I'm going to be trying more of. The earthiness of brandy aged in sherry seems to be a winning combination.