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The Best Bottles Of Brandy Under $30, Just In Time For Thanksgiving

It’s always a good time for tasty, cheap brandy. That’s no small category, either. There’s a lot of quality juice at affordable price points — due to the fact that a fair amount of it is made here in the U.S. So while our parameter here is “under $30,” we’re not talking about swill. Any of these bottles would make a great bottle to bring to Thanksgiving dinner or gift for the dark spirits lover in your life.

The 15 bottles below are our picks for the best cheap bottles of brandy to buy right now. Perfect if you’re whipping up a batch of hot toddies to fight the cold winter nights. A quick note on deciphering brandy labels before we begin: In general, you’ll see VS, VSOP, and XO on bottles, like “Hennessey VSOP.” “VS” means “very special” and is a blend of at least two-year-old brandies. “VSOP” means “very superior old pale” and is a blend of at least four-year-old brandies. “XO” means “extra old” and is a blend of at least six-year-old brandies (sometimes this is called “Napoléon” as well). And, lastly, there’s “Hors d’âge” which means the brandy is aged for up to ten years or longer.

Of course, there are different words for each of these terms if the brandy is from, say, Spain. Also, brandy makers in the U.S. often use the French designations with zero respect for the age regulations they’re meant for, which adds a confusing wrinkle. Regardless, the info and the bottles here should get you started on your brandy journey, just in time for the beginning of the holiday season.

Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy

Paul Masson

Style: California Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $11.99

The Brandy:

This American brandy is a blend of California winemaking and Kentucky bourbon ingenuity. The grapes are grown in California and the brandy is aged and bottled in Kentucky. According to the label, this brandy spends three years aging in oak before going into the bottle.

The Taste:

A distant note of grape juice underpins clear bourbon caramel and vanilla flavors. Light touches of bitterness and black pepper spice mingle with the caramel sweetness. That light spice carries on to a thin, sweet finish.

Bottom Line:

This is solidly in the “mixing” category. Brandy old fashioned, eggnog, mulled wine, and the aforementioned hot toddy are all viable candidates.

Korbel Brandy

Korbel

Style: California Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $12.99

The Brandy:

Korbel is a must-have for whipping up Wisconsin’s favorite drink, the brandy old fashioned. As with all the brandies on this list, that also makes it the perfect candidate for a hot toddy.

The Taste:

This Sonoma brandy actually gains a lot of depth over its two years in the barrel. There’s a clear sense of caramel that leans towards a butterscotch sweetness. The oak comes through with a hint of spice. There’s a slight minerality with a clear note of vinous grapes on the warming finish.

Bottom Line:

This is designed for the old fashioned. Use it for that! It also works really well with cola (especially Coke).

E&J VSOP Premium Brandy

E and J

Style: California Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $13.49

The Brandy:

E&J VSOP hails from the iconic Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery in Modesto, California. The juice is aged for two years before bottling, making it pretty versatile at this price point. You can drink this stuff in a highball or cocktail. It also works as a great dessert brandy. Pour some of this over a sponge cake or ice cream and you’ve got a nice boozy bump to that dessert.

The Taste:

Wet brown sugar mingles with baking spices and a note of sunny meadows. Cream soda dominates the palate with a wisp of bourbon vanilla, maple syrup, and plummy sherry. The end is bold and long-lasting with a return of the warming spice alongside a little bit of oak.

Bottom Line:

We’re still squarely in the mixing category with this one. Still, give it shot on the rocks or in a highball with some fizzy water to cool it down.

Paul Masson Grande Amber VSOP Brandy

Paul Masson

Style: California Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $14.20

The Brandy:

We can’t go on without hitting on Paul Masson’s VSOP. This is one of the better brandies you’ll find for under $20 in the U.S. This expression is the blend of Paul Masson’s Grand Amber (above) and imported Cognac. That addition of the real-deal stuff from France sets this brandy above the rest of the pack.

The Taste:

Notes of fatty hazelnuts and dry Champagne grapes lead the way. There’s a matrix of spices at play, with cloves out front. Cigar smoke, oily espresso beans, and freshly ground allspice round out the sip before it reaches a dry finish.

Bottom Line:

This is starting to get into workhorse brandy territory with applications in cocktails, highballs, and on the rocks working well with this expression.

St-Rémy VSOP

St. Remy

Style: French Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $14.99

The Brandy:

St-Rémy is a classic French gateway brandy. Its price point is the biggest draw, but the booze is backed up with a decent grape-forward essence. That’s thanks to a base wine that’s a blend of — deep breath — Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Gamay, Ugni Blanc, Carignan, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. The juice is then aged for four years in small format French oak barrels before hitting the bottle.

The Taste:

This is a big departure from the Californian brandies populating this list thus far. Fruit orchards, rays of sunshine, and wildflowers lead the way on this sip. That wide-focus narrows on the palate to present ripe apricots and peaches with an almost honeysuckle floral hint that’s cut by a lemon rind citrus on the very end with a final dry, vinous touch.

Bottom Line:

You can warm this one up in a snifter, in the sense that it’s a solid entry point French brandy that’ll help build your palate and lead you to better things in the brandy world.

Korbel Brandy XS

Korbel

Style: Blended California Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $14.99

The Brandy:

Korbel XS is the “Extra Smooth” brandy that’s a stand out on this list. The brandy is spiked with vanilla, spices, sugars, and orange essence to really amp up the mixability of the brandy.

The Taste:

There’s a clear bitterness upfront with whiffs of orange and baking spices. Later, the taste leans into cream soda vanilla that errs a little saccharine. The spices, bitter orange, and soda pop vanilla all combine on a quick end that fades with a slight burn.

Bottom Line:

This works really well in an old fashioned or Brandy Alexander (think chocolate and orange with a creamy body).

E&J Brandy XO

E and J

Style: California Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $14.99

The Brandy:

E&J’s XO deserves some love. Although this is designated as an “XO,” it’s still only aged for a minimum of two years. It is, however, charcoal filtered. A lot of the harsher edges are whittled away through that process.

The Taste:

That classic creamy vanilla of U.S. produced brandy is front-and-center. There’s a good sense of rich toffee and very dark brown sugar on those vanilla coattails. The finish is velvety, creamy, sweet, and full of that continued presence of vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is a dark, spicy, and sweet brandy that suits the Christmas sipping season where the eggnog flows and we all bathe in mulled wine.

Presidente Brandy

Presidente Brandy

Style: Mexican Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $15.99

The Brandy:

Mexico’s Presidente Brandy is making big waves in the U.S. and with good reason. This is a solid brandy at an accessible price. This was also one of the most popular drinks in Mexico for a very long time — so much so that it was the “National Drink of Mexico” at one point.

The Taste:

There are notes of vanilla that are tempered by rich marzipan. The vanilla dries out and has more of a saltwater taffy essence as oak, spice, and a hint of florals linger in the background. The finish holds onto the dryness and ends strong.

Bottom Line:

While you can drink this one neat or on the rocks, it really shines as a base spirit for a great cocktail.

Raynal VSOP Brandy

Raynal

Style: French Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $16.79

The Brandy:

Raynal is one of the biggest French brandies in the United States. It’s the perfect balance between affordability and quality. The brandy is a blend of white grapes from Burgundy, Bordeaux, and Champagne that are then aged in French oak for the requisite four years.

The Taste:

This brandy smells like velvet and nuts (walnuts and almonds dominate). Hints of freshly grated ginger spice things up with a nice underbelly of candied dried fruits next to a wisp of fresh flowers. The finish is vinous and dry, with a lingering moment of ginger and nuttiness.

Bottom Line:

That sharp ginger makes this a nice base for a sidecar cocktail spiked with ginger syrup. It’s also a quality brandy for a highball.

St-Rémy XO

St. Remy

Style: French Brandy
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $19.99

The Brandy:

St-Rémy XO is a mellowed and very tasty brandy that’s always around $20 a bottle. This brandy is a masterclass in French grapes. It blends distilled wines from Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône Valley, Languedoc Roussillon, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, and Beaujolais into each bottle.

The Taste:

Figs, gingerbread, sun-dried grapes, and butterscotch are present up top. The sweetness of figs peak as a clear espresso bean bitterness counterpoints that fruity sweet edge. There’s an echo of wildflowers in the background as the bitterness and sweetness fades with a nice velvet texture at the end.

Bottom Line:

This is a solid sipper (with a little ice). Take your time with it to let it open up in the glass and then your senses.

Laird’s Straight Applejack 86

Lairds

Style: American Fruit Brandy
ABV: 43%
Average Price: $25.25

The Brandy:

This apple brandy, or applejack if you will, is 100 percent apple brandy made from 17 pounds of apples per bottle of brandy. This is a very German-American spirit with clear heritage derived from Germanic fruit brandies married to U.S. aging processes like bourbon and Tennessee whiskey.

The Taste:

Granny Smith apples baked in butter, cinnamon, bourbon vanilla and caramel, and brandy lead the way here. Then a billow of smoke arrives with a clear sense of the charred oak barrel. The vanilla, spice, and tart apple carry through to a bold and warm finish that feels like the ghosts of a fallow apple orchard.

Bottom Line:

This is nice on the rocks or as a funky and fruity old fashioned base.

Lustau Brandy Solera Gran Reserva

Lustau Brandy

Style: Spanish Brandy
Distillery: Lustau
Age: 40%
Average Price: $26.40

The Brandy:

This is a shockingly decent brandy at this price point. Lustau is so revered in distilling circles that Ireland’s iconic Redbreast uses their used barrels to age one of their best high-end expressions. The Gran Reserva expression is aged in used Amontillado sherry casks for around three years under the Spanish sun in Jerez, Spain.

The Taste:

Orange, coconut oil, oak, vanilla, toasted almonds, and baking spices lead the way. There’s a real sense of freshly ground nutmeg and allspice that leads to a rich and buttery fruit cake full of sun-dried fruits. Espresso and dark chocolate bitterness cut in and highjack the spices, sending them to a warm and sunny end with a hint of dry Spanish grass.

Bottom Line:

Let this warm nicely in a big snifter and then take your time nosing and sipping. It’ll help you get a deeper knowledge and entry into the world of Spanish brandy.

De Luze VS Cognac

De Luze

Style: Cognac
Age: 40%
Average Price: $26.99

The Brandy:

This a real-deal brandy from Cognac. The heritage of this Cognac house goes back 24 generations to the 1600s. The juice is a blend of Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne grapes from some of the best vineyards in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac. The expression is then aged for two years in French oak before direct bottling without any meddling.

The Taste:

This is a dialed-in sip. Equally sweet and earthy prunes and dates lead towards a rush of wildflowers in full bloom. Soft notes of orange zest and lemon citrus dance with wisps of oaky smoke, Christmas spices, and deep green grape leaves. A note of lavender mingles with roasted nuts as the velvet finish hits flowers, fruit, and oak notes. This is pure sunshine.

Bottom Line:

Cognac for under $30? Sign us up! This is a decent sipper with a little warmth that really embraces you as it goes down.

Metaxa 5 Stars

Metaxa

Style: Greek Brandy
ABV: 38%
Average Price: $27.99

The Brandy:

This Greek spirit is a blend of brandy, Muscat wine, and botanicals (not unlike gin). It’s then aged for five years — hence the “Five Star” designation. This process makes for a wholly unique experience with botanicals like anise and rose shining through the distilled grape base.

The Taste:

Bold stone fruit, fresh honeycomb, and a field of wildflowers lead the way. Then the spices hit with a big dose of Christmas spices leading into a bowl of dried roses. The fruit comes back with a note of oak on the finish.

Bottom Line:

This is a definite mixer for highballs. Really fizzy water, lots of ice, and a twist of lime or lemon really open this blend up in the glass.

Courvoisier VS Cognac

Courvoisier

Style: Cognac
ABV: 40%
Average Price: $28.99

The Brandy:

This Cognac just squeaks by at $28.99 per bottle. This is a good entry-level brandy that has pretty solid name recognition. The juice is a blend of four to seven-year-old brandies made primarily from grapes grown in the Fins Bois region with a solid percentage of Petite Champagne grapes thrown in to balance things out.

The Taste:

Dried grapes, ripe apples and pears, and creamy chocolate mingle on the nose. The florals feel more like a fruit orchard in full bloom on a spring day. Coffee bitterness arrives next to barrel spiciness with a wisp of smoke lurking far in the background. The fruit and florals bring about a quiet-yet-warming final note.

Bottom Line:

Another Cognac for under $30? That’s a win for this list. It’s also a win for you. This is a very sippable brandy that also works as a great gift for any brandy lover.

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