Wednesday, December 4, 2013
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!