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The Best Brandy At Every Price Point From $10 to $100

Brandy comes by many names, depending on where and how it’s made. Cognac, Armagnac, slivovitz, schnapps, weinbrand, applejack, and so on all denote specific types of brandy, a spirit made from grapes or fruits and often aged in oak. Finding quality brandy isn’t too hard — in part because there are so many styles to choose from. Still, like all spirits, there are a lot of factors at play and you’ll want a little guidance to find the bottle that fits your needs.

To help you navigate the wider world of brandy, we thought we’d throw together a list of our favorite bottles of brandy at every price point between $10 and $100. This project turned out to be a little harder than we thought — there are a lot of great brandy options for under $30 and then in the $30 to $60 price range as well. So picking just one bottle for each of those slots forced us to leave off some classics and quality alternatives. Alas…

The ten bottles below are brandy, Cognac, and Armagnac that we love drinking as the year comes to a close. They taste good, mix well, and will warm you up as winter 2020-2021 marches on.

$10 — Korbel Brandy

Korbel

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $9.99

The Brandy:

This California brandy is crafted as a mixer. The juice is Sonoma wine that’s distilled and then aged for two years in American oak. The barrels are then blended and proofed for maximum mixability.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with butterscotch and caramel, creating a sweet nose. The palate touches on hints of spice, oak, and dry grape while holding on to the sweetness of the base. This finish is warm and short with a hint of minerality.

Bottom Line:

If you’re whipping up a brandy old fashioned, this is the brandy to use — it’s made specifically for that cocktail.

$20 — Decourtet VS Cognac

Decourtet

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $21.98

The Brandy:

This Cognac is beloved in brandy corners for its accessibility on the U.S. market, it’s well-rounded nature, and the very affordable price point. The juice is a straight-forward Cognac blend with no fussing, just tried and true crafting from vine to barrel to bottle.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a balanced floral note next to sweetness. The palate embraces those florals with a touch of lavender next to pears and apricots, with a velvety mouthfeel. The end is short, fruity, and holds a small touch of spicy wood.

Bottom Line:

This works as a sipper in a pinch. It really shines as a highball with some nice, fizzy water and plenty of ice.

$30 — Ararat Aged 5 Years

Ararat

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $29.99

The Brandy:

This Armenian brandy has a heritage stretching back into the late 1800s. The juice is made from locally grown grapes from one of the oldest known grape growing regions of the world. The distillate then spends five years resting in oak before it’s blended, proofed with mountain spring water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a distinct Christmas cake loaded with vanilla, dried fruit, nuts, and spice on the nose. That nose delivers on the palate with the addition of plums and honey with a hint more of the spice and wood. The end is long, sweet, and full of Christmas cake boldness.

Bottom Line:

This is a surprisingly easy sipper in a snifter with a little warmth. It also makes a hell of a cocktail base for anything from eggnog to a sidecar.

$40 — Chateau de Laubade VSOP Armagnac

Chateau de Laubade

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $39.99

The Brandy:

Château de Laubade is a vine to glass experience in Armagnac, France. The Maison uses primarily Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche grapes to make their spirit. The juice then goes into the barrels for anywhere from six to 12 years. The barrels are then hand-selected and small-batched with no more than 20 barrels going into a single batch.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a creamy caramel and vanilla underbelly that leads toward bright and ripe cherries. That cherry sweetness counterpoints notes of old oak and dark spice as the sweetness edges towards creamed honey. The sip is perfectly-rounded, with zero rough edges. It lingers on your sense as the sweet fruit ends slightly tart and spicy.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid sipper for $40. That being said, this is a great cocktail base at a price point that feels fair for making cocktails (think brandy Manhattans and Sazeracs)

$50 — Cardenal Mendoza Gran Reserva

Cardenal Mendoza

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $49.99

The Brandy:

This Spanish brandy has some serious pedigree. The juice is made from Airen grapes grown in Jerez. The juice then goes into former Pedro Ximenez sherry casks where it rests for 15 long years. The result is a deeply flavorful snifter that’s second to none.

Tasting Notes:

Roasted nuts, orange-infused dark chocolate, espresso beans, and brown bread greet you. The sip embraces the oak, nuts, and coffee as the body of the brandy feels like sharp beams of golden light flooding through darkly colored stained glass. The fruit is fairly dried and plummy and the sweetness edges ever-so-slightly towards molasses. The end is dry, bold, and leaves you warmed to your soul.

Bottom Line:

We really dig this bottle. While it’s a great sipper, this really is the ultimate base for eggnog or a Brandy Alexander. It stands up to the heavy fat of the cream while still delivering on its promised flavor notes.

$60 — D’USSÉ VSOP Cognac

DUSSE

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $57.99

The Brandy:

This is Jay-Z’s signature brand. The juice in the bottle goes way back to Baron Otard from the famed Château de Cognac. The new line was re-crafted to suit American palates and includes a blend of Cognacs that are aged at the château for four to eight years before blending, proofing, and bottling.

Tasting Notes:

The florals and fruit take a back seat to wood, spice, and vanilla on the nose. The palate of rich caramel leads to butter toffee with plenty of that oak shining through next to mild dark spices. The end lets the florals and fruit come out to play a little as the wood, spice, and caramel fade through your senses.

Bottom Line:

This is a great workhorse Cognac. It works perfectly well in a snifter, in a highball, or as a cocktail base (especially for a sidecar or Sazerac). Plus the bottle is pretty cool, making this a solid gift bottle.

$70 — HINE Rare VSOP Cognac

Hine

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $70

The Brandy:

HINE Rare is a masterfully crafted Cognac. The juice is a blend of eaux-de-vie (literally water of life, really the distillate) made from wines from the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne growing regions. That spirit then is barreled in oak where it spends six to 12 years maturing. The results are then married, proofed with soft mineral water from local springs, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

While the oak and vanilla of a well-aged spirit are present, the real star of the show is in the fields of summer florals. The taste embraces those flowers with hints of jasmine next to violet next lavender that’s counterpointed by plummy nuttiness and more of that oaky spice.

Bottom Line:

This is a super easy-sipping Cognac that needs little help. Take your time and enjoy it after a big meal.

$80 — Remy Martin 1738 Royal Cognac

Remy Martin

ABV: 40%
Average Price: $85

The Brandy:

This high-end offering from Remy really does shine. The brandy is a blend of ultra-refined Fine Champagne Cognacs that are hand-selected and small-batched, adding a unique vibe to the expression.

Tasting Notes:

Dark red grapes mingle with sharp Christmas spices, musty oak, rich vanilla, and creamy toffee sweetness. A Christmas cake full of dried and candied fruit, spice, nuts, and buttery rum leads towards a whisper of fallow lavender fields. The end lingers just the right amount of time, touching on the fruit, spice, wood, and velvet texture.

Bottom Line:

Warm up a snifter, pour a large pour, and take your time enjoying this complex and very wintry brandy. This also works as a nice gift bottle.

$90 — Laird’s Rare Apple Brandy Aged 12 Years

Lairds

ABV: 44%
Average Price: $91.99

The Brandy:

This brandy from New Jersey harvests its apples from the misty Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. 30 pounds of apples go into each bottle of brandy from Laird’s. The juice then rests in American oak for 12 years before it’s blended, proofed, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

You’re greeted with apples stewing in butter, spice, raisins, and brown sugar. Hints of vanilla and oak join the party and a sense of salted caramel arrives to drive all those stewed and spicy apples towards a nice sweet/savory feel. The end isn’t too long but leaves you with a warm apple pie vibe.

Bottom Line:

This is probably the most unique offering on the list. It’s also amazingly easy to sip. Maybe too easy. We’d also argue that this makes a sweet old fashioned, price point be damned.

$100 — Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 2

Hennessy

ABV: 43%
Average Price: $99.99

The Brandy:

Ol’ Henny is a good place to end this list. Their Master Blender’s Selection highlights the importance of blending in making Cognac and brandy in general. This brandy was created by blending spirits from the Petite Champagne region and letting them age in two different barrels. The first maturation happens in coarse-grain French oak for 18 months. The juice is then transferred to used oak for longer maturation.

The best barrels are then blended, proofed with soft spring water, and bottled.

Tasting Notes:

On the nose, this is like a mix of Christmas spices stored in a cedar barrel. The palate builds on that with a cake maltiness, dried fruit, and an almost fig savoriness. Hints of coffee bitterness kick in late as the spice edges towards peppery with a hint of vanilla.

Bottom Line:

If you dig on spicy bourbons, this is the drink for you. It’s a great sipper and always works wonders in a cocktail. It’s also a nice step up from the standard Hennessy people know and love.

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