Category: News | Published: 14 Mar, 2017

Sipping by the fire: a brandy guide

“Claret is the liquor for boys, port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy” –
Samuel Johnson

There are few things more relaxing than sipping an exquisite brandy by the fire. If you’re new to brandy, or you’re thinking of trying your first glass, you’re in luck!

Here at ELB, we love a tipple every now and again, so we’ve compiled this handy guide to brandies by the fire for you to read and enjoy. Bottoms up!

Types of brandy

The word ‘brandy’, comes from the dutch word ‘brandewijn’, which means ‘burnt wine’, so it will come as no surprise that a lot of the world’s brandy is made from grapes.

‘Pomace’ brandy has a distinctive taste, which comes from being distilled from the skin peeled from grapes. However, it is also possible to make brandy from other fruits like apples and cherries, although this is less common.

The majority of brandies are, like wine and whiskey, aged over time in oak barrels, which gives the drink its amber hue, and spiced taste. As with other liquors, the price of brandy tends to increase with age.

However, a decent brandy doesn’t have to cost the earth, and we recommend trying a few cheaper ones before forking out for a more expensive tipple.

Brandy labels

Brandies come with labels attached to them, which tells the buyer their age. It’s worth remembering that each brandy type may have alternative labels, so the following information is for guideline purposes only.

Label Age
V.S (Very Special) Aged for a minimum of two years
V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) Aged between 4½ – 6 years
X.O. (Extra Old) Aged over 6½ years
Hors D’Age Too old to determine the age of

The taste of different brandies can vary immensely, so try not to be put off by one bad experience. Try a variety of different brandies and you’ll eventually find one that suits your palate.

The two best known types of brandy are Armagnac and Cognac, both French, which can only be produced in… you guessed it… the regions of the same names. However, there are a wide selection of brandies beyond their French counterparts. Here are some of our favourites:

  • Paul Masson V.S: an American brandy with a slightly sweet taste, that features notes of vanilla and caramel.
  • Mango: This one’s great for putting in brandy-based cocktails. We especially love Mango Fizz for spring.
  • Christian Brothers V.S: Featuring well-balanced fruit flavours, this brandy has a warm finish, and is perfect to enjoy straight or on the rocks.



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