10 Best Brandy Brands
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Searching For The Best Brandy Brands
There’s nothing quite like sitting back on a cold evening, fire going in the corner, a glass of brandy in hand. Warming, smooth, and layered in its flavor palette, there’s so much every sip of this beverage offers to the consumer.
However, I can’t just discuss the drink as a whole – I’m here to dive into the best brandy brands on the market and how each one makes their mark on the industry.
Brandy typically comes with two key layers in taste: fruit and wood. The drink itself comes distilled from fermented fruit, later aged in wood (often oak) barrels.
The aging and fermentation process leaves fruity flavors with smoky oak or wood tones to ground each sip with an earthy taste.
Whether a fan of drinking it straight as a digestif after large meals or you’re someone who prefers it mixed in cocktails where those sweet and fruity flavors can shine, this beverage brings layers of sensations to every sip.
Don’t settle for cheap – with brandy, we all want the best and that’s why I’m looking at my top ten best brandy brands to get the stock at home started.
The 10 Best Brandy Brands
1. Rémy Martin
Taking a glance into the history of the market, I had to start with Rémy Martin who first appeared in 1724, named after the original winegrower himself.
Founded on the notions of family, tradition, and innovation, this company will be the first to admit using the past to inspire flavors of the future.
Collaborating with a number of talents and names to expand their avenue and discover new tastes and editions, this business is all about taking brandy to a new level while staying true to their roots.
This brand is all about a cognac experience. Carefully distilled from grapes grown in the Cognac region, this company keeps their name relevant through exploring the worlds and forms this flavor can offer.
Available in traditional formats as well as VSOP, champagnes, and more, there’s a lot to discover with my favorite, the Cognac Fine Champagne, available for $65 per bottle.
- Selection of smooth cognacs
- Constant collaborations
- Widely accessible for purchase
- Guides on how to drink, mix, and pair cognac
2. Hine Antique
Checking into another name in this list of the best brandy brands with some weight behind them, I had to highlight Hine Antique.
Originally founded in 1763, this brand was born from the efforts of Thomas Hine, a young man sent to France in his father’s stead to craft cognac that could be shipped back home and traded by merchant Thomas Hine Sr.
Upon meeting his wife, the younger Hine remained in France, growing the business over the years and across several name changes until reaching the brand and values it remains settled on today.
Now widely known in the cognac market for their rich flavors and quality cognac, this brand continues to produce top products with their Cognac Antique XO being one of the most popular on the market.
Aged for a minimum of ten years, this beverage brings balance, bold taste, and complexity to every sip. I do have to admit that this one fetches a fair cost of $230 for a 750mL bottle. It’s a lot to ask, but also a lot to gain.
- A rich collection of cognacs
- Lengthy aging times on beverages
- Legacy brand
- Retains original family values
I definitely couldn’t complete a list of the best brandy brands without including the Hennessey name. Easily one of the largest suppliers of cognac internationally, this business appears time and time again.
Originally founded by an Irishman, Richard Hennessey, who discovered the Charente region during a battle, the pull of business drew Hennessey back to the area years later to establish his Maison de Cognac.
Now owned by Louis Vuitton, this company has spread their name worldwide to become one of the top producers in the industry.
With bottles of Hennessey VS sitting around $45, the big sellers tend to come from the Hennessey XO series which costs around $240 per bottle. Not the cheapest in the market, but also not unreasonable for the complex profile of these flavors.
- Wide selection of cognacs and cocktails
- Range of collaborations and limited-edition pieces
- One of the largest cognac brands in the industry
- Owned by Louis Vuitton
Stepping away from more popular and recognizable companies, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the beauty of Bertoux in this article.
Taking a turn from other brands on this list, Bertoux is actually American with their brandies born in California and aged in French and American oak barrels for three to seven years before bottling.
Working with bartenders and sommeliers to craft the perfect blend, this business aims to pay homage to legacy brands through their flavors.
Limited in selection, Bertoux really only has one brandy to their name, but they haven’t let that slow them down.
Highlighting profiles of apricot, orange blossom, honeysuckle, and nutmeg, the vibrant and fruity flavors of this one sell for around $45 per bottle. One of the newer and cheaper options on the market, it’s a great option to explore the world of brandies.
- Flavorful American brandy
- Made to honor historic brands in the market
- Reasonable costs
- Complex flavor profile
Featuring a long history of inclusivity, diversity, and welcoming, Courvoisier joins the list of older names to make an appearance in this article.
What can I say – there’s a reason they’ve lasted this long in the market. Launched by Felix Courvoisier in 1828, this business has a lengthy history of being amongst the best.
Napoleon III even gave this company the title of “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court” in 1869 due to their quality flavors. Playing into that history, the brand has since established Napoleon and Josephine silhouettes and bottles to retain that important piece of their legacy.
Now known to be the Most Awarded Cognac House since 2019, this brand continues to push their limits to be the best.
Loved for their VS, VSOP, and XO collections, these blends pay homage to the classic French region of Cognac while mixing in their own floral finish to complete the complex palette at play.
Offering bottles of VS for $35, this brand sits as one of the cheaper options on the list.
- Legacy cognac brand
- Affordable prices
- Floral finish to cognac blends
- Award-winning blends
6. Martell XO
We were all impressed by those 1800’s starts, right? Brush that aside and be impressed by Martell XO, one of the oldest cognac houses on the market.
First launched in 1715 by Jean Martell, this brand actually doesn’t put their focus on their 300-year-old history, but instead prefers to highlight their creation process, putting all attention on the present.
Aging products everywhere from two years to seventy, there’s no limit to what this brand can and cannot do with the complex flavors of their cognac.
Planning everything from the type of oak barrel to the maturity length, this brand doesn’t play around with their products and quality. Blended with care by the Cellar Master, each bottle differs slightly with accents drawn from the variety of choices made throughout the process.
Straight, spicy, and bold, the Martell XO easily makes a name as one of their bestsellers with bottles going for around $240.
- Extensive selection of carefully prepared cognacs
- One of the oldest cognac houses in the business
- Complex flavor profiles
- Elegant bottle shapes for luxury costs
Playing largely into their family legacy, Bardinet takes their 1857 start and keeps it in mind with all they do.
Founded by 20-year-old Paul Bardinet, this business was born from passion with Bardinet exploring possibilities through world exhibitions and international ports within the first few decades of business.
Now ranked as one of the top names in the industry, this business continues the same passion and love Bardinet first began with, putting spirit and joy above all else.
Working with column stills and continuous distillation in their process, Bardinet emphasizes aromatics in their products, creating a brandy that not only delivers on flavor but a full sensory experience.
Despite the complex layers to the taste, prices remain on a more simple front with brandies starting around the $40 mark.
- Selection of brandies and flavored blends
- Passion distilled in every product
- One of the top names in the industry
- Aromatic due to continuous distillation
8. Paul Masson
I’ll be the first to admit that Paul Masson doesn’t provide customers with nearly as much history surrounding their start and journey to where they are now. Citing the company to be more than 100 years old, this business prefers to put focus on the product above all else.
I can’t blame them for wanting individuals to support them for their flavors rather than their legacy.
Smooth, oaky flavors underline every bottle from this brand with flavors available for all types of palettes. From fruity flavors including pineapple, mango, red berry, and peach to more classic VSOP styles, there’s something for everyone with Paul Masson.
The best part about this brand is easily the price. Bottles have been spotted for as low as $10 for their VS blend.
- Wide range of flavored and classic brandies
- Incredibly low prices
- Over 100 years to their name
- Cocktail recipes listed online
One of the newer names on the list, Germain-Robin came to the scene in 1982, founded by Ansley J. Coale Jr and Hubert Germain-Robin. The duo met in California as Germain-Robin was trekking across the state in search of good land to grow grapes for his cognac.
Coming from a family business in the industry that had recently sold to Martell, he was in search of a new home for the family practice to establish the name and legacy as separate from the wider known brand they’d recently sold to.
Despite the later start, it didn’t take long for this business to catch on. Within years, Germain-Robin became a favorite of President Ronald Reagan and found itself constantly stocked at the White House during his years in leadership.
Due to low supply and recognition (despite being a presidential favorite), this brand holds quite high prices with some bottles going up to $600.
- California-located brandy brand
- White House favorite in the ’80s and ’90s
- Made from quality wine grapes
- Born from a family name with years in the business
10. Laird and Company
I wanted to end on a high note and despite the fact that this name might not be quite as popular as some other names on this list of the best brandy brands, I do have to include this for the history alone.
Laird and Company came into the business in 1698 when founder Alexander Laird emigrated from Scotland to America, settling in New Jersey and producing Applejack for the public.
Widely known for the flavor and content, this brand reached heights early on with even George Washington writing to the company for supplies.
Over 300 years later, this family brand has passed down through generations to retain that original Applejack flavor that had Washington himself writing in for a recipe.
As the oldest of America’s distilleries, Laird and Company’s apple brandies go for a nice $45 per bottle, which isn’t too much of a reach for a fruity treat.
- A range of applejacks, brandies, and domestic spirits
- Over 300 years in business
- Family-owned for eight generations
- Reasonable prices
How to Shop For The Best Brandy
Now that I’ve noted the best brandy brands (in my opinion), I felt that a bit more information about the drink itself would be a good idea for those new to the market.
Not all brandies are created equally and it’s important to identify exactly how and why a brandy should be selected. Before buying blindly from my list, check out these considerations to keep in mind while shopping.
The brand does actually make a difference and it’s not just because of reputation. I’ll admit that knowing the public opinion on a brand is always a good thing (research is always the number one recommendation), but the key thing to keep in mind with brands is their specialties.
Some brands stick with a classic cognac while others venture into other types of brandies available. Find the flavor profile you enjoy the most and I promise that there will be a brand that aligns with those tastes. All it takes is patience and exploration.
For those unaware, ABV stands for Alcohol By Volume, measuring the content by percentage in beverages.
Liquors typically sit with a higher ABV than beers and wines, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on that percentage as numbers can range from 15% up to 50%. Consider how strong a drink is desired and take note of the numbers when shopping.
The flavor is a big one to consider in the best brandy brands. Most brandies offer a fruity taste as the beverage derives from fermented fruits. However, that’s not the only taste to take in when sipping a glass.
Due to the aging process, these drinks often take on an oaky flavor from years of storage in oak barrels. Some brands blend with other profiles in mind venturing into floral, spicy, and savory palettes.
Brandy may seem like a straightforward notion, however, I have to mention that this drink comes in a variety of types and flavors. Here are some of the top types:
- Eau de Vie
I’ll be honest in saying there’s a lot more to explore than just those names, but I feel like that list is a decent place to start. I know that this list of the best brandy brands focused heavily on cognac, however, there’s a lot more to explore for those interested in the journey.
When it comes to brandies, it all comes down to the origin fruit. Many cognacs, for example, are crafted in France or California due to the grapes grown in those regions.
Different areas bring different flavors and quality ingredients into the mix, so do a bit of research on where each brand produces and take note of the growing process in the region.
Aging is everything in the world of alcohol. Just like with wines and cheeses, the best and most complex brandies tend to come from the more mature batches.
Most brandies are aged for a minimum of two years; however, the process can reach seventy years or more to really embrace the blend of flavors or profiles.
Here’s the trick – the younger brandies tend to emphasize more fruity flavors while the older options feature an oaky profile due to years of storage in the barrels.
It all depends on personal preference. Most brandy snobs will insist older is better, but for those who enjoy the immature fruity flavors, younger is fine (and often cheaper).
Last, but never least, we have to keep the price in mind at all times. Not all brandies require thousands of dollars – in fact, most of them sit around the $30 – $50 mark.
That said, for bolder and older flavors, prices often rise into the hundreds with ease. Keep an eye on cost and I recommend starting with lower prices to taste test before diving into the big spenders.
Which is the smoothest brandy?
I’ll be honest, the list for this one tends to change depending on the source. Variation runs between bottle and type, so it’s hard to nail down a secure top list to depend on every time.
I do want to note that there are a few names that tend to pop up in online ratings. Those usually are:
- Rémy Martin
Those definitely aren’t the only brands with smooth drinks in their stock, however, their aging process seems to provide smooth textures and rich flavors most consistently for customers.
Is XO better than VSOP brandy?
I know that I’ve been throwing letters around like nothing throughout this article on the best brandy brands and it’s only fair that I give some clarification.
Commonly spotted in the worlds of brandy and cognacs are VS, VSOP, and XO bottles. Prices tend to range with VS on the lower side and XO on the higher end of the market – but what do they mean?
Each name refers to the age of maturity for bottles. VS bottles stand for Very Special. These brandies have been aged for two to three years to retain fruity flavors with a touch of oak to their profile.
VSOP takes it a step further as Very Superior Old Pale, featuring Eaux-de-vie that’s been aged for at least four years.
The higher costs for XO come in due to their age. XO stands for Extra Old, meaning these bottles have been maturing for at least six years with the range expanding to include decades. The older the bottle, the more expensive the cost.
What is the difference between brandy and cognac?
I’ve been throwing a lot of terms around, but two of the biggest names to appear in this article are brandy and cognac. It’s safe to say I’ve used the two interchangeably a few times in the article and it’s only fair to provide some clarification as to why that is.
Brandy is a beverage born from fermented fruits that have been left to mature in oak barrels. As a result, any alcoholic beverage fitting this description and method is categorized as brandy.
Cognacs are produced using white grapes as the base of the drink, often collected from the Cognac region of France. All cognacs are brandy, but not all brandies are cognac.
What is the proper way to drink brandy?
Brandy is a drink of many faces with those who enjoy a drink finding a variety of ways to take in the smooth beverage. In my opinion, there are three main ways to enjoy a taste of brandy:
1. Neat – similar to whiskey, brandy can be served straight in a glass on its own. To fully enjoy the flavors, try warming the glass with your hands to open up the flavors and aroma. Swirl, sniff, and sip to start the journey and really embrace the profiles blended into the beverage for a full experience.
2. On the Rocks – it’s recommended to try brandy straight before adding any ice, but for those in need of the cooling feature, work with a single larger ice cube for an even cooling experience. Place the cube in the glass, pour, and then give the ice time to do its work and chill the drink before any sips are taken. Drink slowly and fully to access the most flavors.
3. Mixed – best experienced with younger brandies due to their fruity finish, these drinks are great to mix together into cocktails for versatile drinks and selections. Working well in sangrias, sidecars, sours, and more, there’s a cocktail for every flavor profile.
Is brandy good for health?
I’ll ask it (I know you’re all wondering) – is there good to be found from brandy? The flavors and mixtures may be a plus at the time of drinking, but when it comes to health, I have to note that there’s actually some good to come from having brandy as a favorite drink.
First and foremost, brandy actually has antimicrobial properties due to the high amounts of alcohol. This means those getting sick or suffering inflammation can find relief in a sip of brandy to reduce symptoms.
This drink is also known to relax individuals, putting them in a peaceful state of mind of rest and relaxation before bed. There’s a reason it’s an after-dinner standard.
Wrapping up this article on the best brandy brands, I want to give a few quick final thoughts. This popular drink has been around for centuries, establishing itself with a smooth and rich flavor.
Ideal on its own or mixed in with other ingredients, there’s a lot to discover with the profiles alone present in each sip.
Brandy isn’t the cheapest alcohol on the market, but the amount used for each nightcap means one bottle tends to last quite a while.
Good brandy is definitely an investment, but I’d say that the best brandy brands tend to be worth that extra cost.
Start small with a few sips of something on the cheaper end and then take time to expand the palette, exploring the different types, origins, and maturity levels and all they have to offer.
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