Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Brandy Gifts

It was frustrating putting together my Whiskey Gifts post this year because of the unavailability of so many of the good whiskeys.  Brandy, though, is a different story.  As I've been fond of saying, we are living in a Golden Age of Brandy; the quality has never been better (at least not in my lifetime), the price is insanely reasonable for what you get, and most of it is still on the shelf.  Most of the best new spirits I had this year were brandies.  If you're shopping for spirit gifts, you might want to skip the whiskey aisle altogether.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Cognac Navarre Vieille Reserve ($200). This Cognac from Jacky Navarre includes brandies that are 50 years old.  It's a beautiful, oaky, earthy brandy.  Yes, it's pricey, but it's one of the best things I tasted all year. It's still available at Astor Wines.

Domaine de Baraillon 1985 ($116).  This K&L exclusive shows the best qualities of Armagnac; it's at once fruity, earthy and spicy.  It was one of my two favorite Armagnacs this year.

1996 Chateau de Pelleahut ($60) This was my other favorite Armagnac this year and also a K&L exclusive (kudos to K&L for jumping on the brandy brandy-wagon with both feet in their excellent exclusive barrels program).  Deeply earthy, it tastes much older than its 17 years.  At $60 per bottle, this is the best spirit deal of the year.

Osocalis Brandy The Heritage ($130) is the masterpiece of this California distiller, but their whole range is great.  For a budget pick, it's hard to beat their Rare Alembic Brandy ($43).

Navazos Palazzi Brandy de Jerez ($80 for a half bottle).  Nicolas Palazzi's sherry aged brandy is rich and dry, a perfect brandy for lovers of sherried Scotch.

Domaine D'Ognoas 2000 ($56).  Another K&L exclusive, this is a bold, assertive Armagnac that's a great deal at the price point.

So don't despair of the state of whiskey. Drink brandy!

Happy holidays!


David D said...

Do you want me to have K&L make that check out to Steve or SKU's Recent Eats?

I'm glad you liked them so much. Thanks for sharing that with others. David OG and I really appreciate it.

sku said...

You pay me? That would be a switch.

Dimitri said...

Osocalis Heritage is a fantastic brandy, very fine with so much complexity.
So far, it is my best discovery since we live in California.
We also visited the distillery: it is all about quality, no fancy marketing.
Last but not least, Monsieur Farber is a real true Gentlemen !

numen said...

Hey Sku,

excellent list. The 1985 Baraillon is a great call, and hard to beat. With the focus on more traditional brandy, I thought that I'd throw out a few other ideas, too, and trying to keep things on the less expensive end (for the most part).

Apple Brandy:
K&L Camut 15 year old Calvados -- last year's batch was really excellent, hits a great point between rich fruit and vibrant acidity. (around $115, if I recall)

Christian Drouin Hors d'age - a medium age Calvados that's more syrupy and reminiscent of a sweet Christmas cider and red apples. ($100-120)

Germain-Robin's Apple Brandy (and XO)-- both are bright, rich, and sweet red apple, and very well made. I'd recommend lots of G-R products. ($65-95)

for alembic style brandy, I'd also strongly recommend the Germain-Robin muscat ($150), which was unique, spicy, and full of fruit. And for something on the pricier end of things, the Anno Domini ($300-350), which remains one of my favorite spirits of any sort.

cognac: Maison Surrenne's Borderies ($100) rich, floral, and full of fruit. Very well crafted, and just top notch stuff. The VSOP level Ancienne Distillerie ($45) was an incredible value, but tough to find. One can find the 'Maison Surrenne Cognac,' which comes from petite champagne and fin bois. I've always enjoyed bottles from this estate.

For other brandies, there's always the eau de vie from Clear Creek (the pear and cherry are top notch, around $40/375ml). Tougher to find is aged pomace brandy, but the Tres Vieux Marc de Bourgogne by Briottet was delicious, honeyed and herbal, and only about $40/bottle (if it can be found)

sku said...

Great suggestions. Thanks Numen.

Alex said...

Thanks for all the suggestions. For apple brandy, I would also highly recommend the Laird's 7-1/2 year old apple brandy.