The Ultimate Guide to Distinguishing High-Quality Brandy Brands
What are first-rate brandy brands and how can you distinguish high-quality brandy?
- Carlos I
- Fundador Solera
- Fundador Light
- Understand the nature of brandy
- Know the different types of brandy
- Use the three brandy noses
- Learn how to taste high-quality brandy
Are you looking for a bottle of high-quality brandy to present as a gift to your best friend’s housewarming party? Or are you simply looking for a good type of brandy to create delicious after-work cocktails with?
The art of distinguishing high-quality brandy can be learned in a few simple steps. Train your senses to distinguish between the different types of brandy from local liquor stores. Educate yourself on the different types of brandy offered by a number of brands. And finally, learn how to heighten brandy’s elegant flavors with this ultimate guide.
Read on to learn the secrets to distinguishing high-quality brandy.
High-Quality Brandy Brands for You
Before going into how you can distinguish high-quality brandy, here is a list of trusted and well-known brands that you should try. Enjoy these simply on the rocks or mixed into a cocktail to enhance its flavor.
Carlos I is a grape brandy created in the Jerez Region in southwestern Spain. The brandy is known for its amber color combined with gold accents. One whiff of this brandy will give you an intense aroma of vanilla and cacao. One sip will give you a mixture of balanced, persistent, and complex flavors.
Fundador Solera is another distinct Spanish grape brandy. Its color is reminiscent of the dark color of oak. A whiff will give you elegant and lasting fragrances of rich spice. A sip will coat your palette in a thick and creamy flavor, which is both balanced and tenacious.
Fundador Light undergoes a high-quality distillation process that makes use of the traditional Criaderas and Soleras aging methods. It is aged in oak barrels previously seasoned with sherry wine. It gives off a subtle and clean aroma with a slight wooden fragrance. This brandy has a light taste and goes down the throat smoothly.
What is Brandy?
Brandy is a term used to describe any spirit that is distilled from fruit-based wine. This wine can be made from any type of fruit such as grapes, plums, apples, or even pears. It is aged in barrels for different time periods in order to achieve different levels of quality.
Brandy was discovered in the 12th century. Wine was being transported in wooden barrels and was discovered to have significantly improved during its long delivery process. The taste had been refined and various aromatic compounds had been revealed.
Currently, there are three categories of brandy based on its aging process: VS, VSOP, and XO.
- Very Special (VS) – This type of brandy must be aged in oak barrels for no less than two years.
- Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) – Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) brandy must be aged no less than four years.
- Extra Old (XS) – Extra Old (XS) brandy must be aged no less than six years.
As the years went by, more and more variations of brandy emerged. These types of brandy were created from a combination of different ingredients and aging processes.
Distinguishing the Types of Brandy
Each type of brandy has a distinct taste and smell. Different combinations yield different results. Here are a few examples of the types of brandy that you may encounter:
Cognac and Armagnac are types of brandy that use a variety of grapes in their distillation process. Both are manufactured in picturesque villages in France which is home to sprawling vineyards. They are known for their strong aromas and their fruity and floral hints. The main difference between the two is that Armagnac is distilled only once while Cognac is distilled twice.
- Fruit Brandy
Excluding grapes, fruit brandy is created by distilling the manufacturer’s fruit of choice. More popular types make use of pears, apricots, apples, cherries, and plums. The fruit is mashed, fermented, and then distilled in order to give it a genuine fruit taste.
Take note that fruit brandy is different from fruit-flavored brandy because they actually distill the fruit of choice. Fruit-flavored brandy simply adds the fruit flavor with an existing grape brandy.
- Pomace Brandy
Pomace brandy is more popularly made from grapes. This type of brandy is unaged and does not spend a lot of time in wooden barrels. This gives it a harsher yet flavorful grape taste.
Now that you know how to differentiate types of brandy based on its age and its ingredients, you can now learn how to distinguish high-quality brandy through your senses.
Using the Three Brandy Noses
Brandy is an extremely delicate spirit. It is also incredibly versatile, having the ability to offer a diverse and wide range of aromas. Just like any quality spirit, there is a certain method that you can practice in order to truly take in the depth of a particular brandy.
First, pour a small amount of brandy into a brandy snifter (a special type of glass). Swirl it around and practice the three brandy noses.
Here is how to properly sniff high-quality brandy:
- Step One: Sniff from Chest Height
Hold the brandy at chest height and take a good whiff. Allow your nose to capture the floral notes and the delicate aromas coming from the glass. This will allow your body to prepare for your first sip.
- Step Two: Sniff from Chin Height
Secondly, raise the glass to around chin height and take a deep breath in through your nose. This should allow you to capture the impression of dried fruits in the brandy.
- Step Three: Sniff from Directly Under the Nose
Lastly, put the glass directly under your nose. Take a deep breath in from both your mouth and nose. This last sniff should be a bit more complex enough to give you aromas of pepper and cinnamon.
Now that you know the proper way to inhale the aromas of brandy, you can now learn how to taste high-quality brandy.
How to Taste High-Quality Brandy
After you have finished the three nose process, it is recommended that you first take two sips of brandy. These sips should be the smallest that you can take. Prepare for the taste to cover your entire palate. After the flavor has passed, take a slightly large sip and let it swish around your mouth. This will give you a long finish that will surely be a delight to your senses.
These are just some of the ways how you can distinguish high-quality brandy. Use the brands of brandy listed above as your basis when looking for other quality brands.
Knowing the creation process of any spirit is key to identifying their quality. Now that you know that brandy can be made from a variety of fruits such as grapes, plums, pears, or even apples, you can further explore its differences in terms of taste and smell. Take note of the tips and tricks written above in order to best detect high-quality brandy with the use of your senses.
With all of these in mind, take note that your preferred brand of brandy may be up to you and your tastes.
Choose the perfect brand of brandy to give as a housewarming gift or to simply make delicious cocktails with after a long day at work with the help of this ultimate guide.
Click here to take a look at the high-quality brandy available by Alcoline!