Brandy is one of the more refined spirits on the market. The distillation of wine — or champagne in the case of cognac — results in a subtle drink that feels akin to sunshine in a glass. It’s super easy to sip, which is a bit of a punch in the gut since this stuff isn’t cheap. Brandy needs to age in oak for a long, long time to achieve those heavenly levels of smoothness. That aging means a big expense for the distillers and that means we have to pay a premium for the good stuff.
Dropping serious cash on booze is always a nerve-racking experience. There are a lot of options out there and that leads to easy misfires. A fine brandy should have a little oak that’s slightly sweet, spicy, and earthy — without anything overpowering. Then, depending on where it’s made, the brown elixir will have a mix of fruit orchards, nuttiness, and bursts of warmth that’ll transport you to a sunny day on a vineyard. It’s a complex drink and hits that sweet spot of almost-too-easy-to-drink. Seriously, don’t be afraid to swig this stuff straight from the bottle like a boss.
To help you drop your cash on the right bottle, we thought we’d put forth ten bottles of brandy that hit our high standards. Let’s dive right in!
Hennessy VSOP Privilege
Ol’ Henney is always a solid choice. Hennessy’s Privilege VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) is a big step up from the standard bottles. It has a little more nuance and character built in. Plus, this is a classic label and vibe all around.
The French cognac has a distinct honey note that gives way to a fruit orchard on a sunny day. Right at the end, you’ll get a hint of oakiness that ties the whole drink together nicely. It’s straightforward and always goes down easy.