The Top Rated Brandies From October

The Distiller Tasting Table reviewed a bunch of brandies this October, but these ten took home the highest scores!
Nov 02, 2016
  • 10
    Quinta de Alderiz Aguardente Bagaceira de Alvarinho is produced from the bagasse (pulpy residue) of Albariño grapes grown in Monção and Melgaço, part of Portugal's Vinho Verde region. The spirit is produced by Sociedade Agrícola Casa Pinheiro Alderiz and winemaker John Garrido. Note: This is sold in a 500ml sized bottle and is not currently available in the U.S.
  • 9
    Rancio & Rich
    The St Agnes XO Imperial 20 Year Old Brandy has been twice distilled in copper pot-stills before its long rest, with 20 years being the youngest age, and the oldest parts being distilled in 1970. Note: Available in Australia only at this time.
  • 8
    Fruity & Sweet
    Bache-Gabrielsen is a family-owned cognac estate that was founded in 1905 in the Grande Champagne region. They are known for their rustic facade, but state of the art production facility within. Sérénité is a blend of eaux-de-vie that contains 85% ugni blanc and 15% of the increasingly rare folle blanche varietals. The average age of the distillates, all aged in Limousin casks, is 30 years, however some as old as 50 years are contained in the final blend.
  • 7
    Rich & Sweet
    Though the name and packaging might seem ultra-modern, ABK6 is a cognac steeped in family tradition. The name is a play on the French pronunciation of the family's name - Abécassis. Their single estate cognacs are produced in the Fins Bois region, with nearly 500 acres of vineyards. The Extra is a blend of cognacs matured in Limousin oak spanning several decades, bottled in a fetching crystal decanter at cask strength.
  • 6
    Rancio & Fruity
    Making waves amongst even the international market with its whisky, Lark's Riviere du Nord XO brandy proves that Lark is not a one trick pony. Named in honor of the original naming of the Derwent River, a Tasmania river rising from the Tasmania central highlands, Riviere du Nord is copper pot-distilled before being aged for a minimum of 6 years in French oak quarter casks that previously housed Lark Whisky. This tasting was completed using cask B2, bottled in 2011.
  • 5
    Earthy & Woody
    Chateau de Leberon is the sister estate to Domaine d'Aurensan. Both are unbridled examples of the Ténarèze except with a heavier clay soil at Aurensan and a better draining limestone of Leberon. The result is a bit of a brighter and perhaps more exotic character with Leberon. All of this nuance is un-obscured by any addition of water or flavoring/coloring agents.
  • 4
    Woody & Roast
    The Lhéraud family are specialists in vintage cognacs, many of them exceptionally old. It's no surprise that vintage-dating is a rarity in Cognac when you consider that barrels destined to become vintage must be aged under a government seal in a locked cellar. In order to taste their contents or transfer them to another barrel, the producer must pay a government inspector to unlock the cellar and reseal the barrel once the work is completed. This 1974 Cognac was bottled at 40 years of age, in 2014, at natural cask-strength.
  • 3
    Woody & Rancio
    Jacky Navarre is a fourth generation cognac distiller. His eleven-acre estate in Gondeville in the Grande Champagne region grows primarily ugni blanc among other grapes and he hand-harvests his fruit, which just isn't done anymore. He distills on the lees (the spent grapes) in his 30hl Charentais pot-still. He adds no sugar, no boisé (concentrated boiled wood chips...which is allowed), no caramel color, and perhaps most shocking, NO WATER. He allows his cognac to lower to 90 proof by natural evaporation.
  • 2
    Woody & Spicy
    Gristmill Distillers' 1892 Forever Wild Apple Brandy is produced from New York apples grown in the Adirondack Mountains just 35 miles from where they ferment, distill and age the brandy. It is distilled twice and allowed to rest in new American oak barrels for 162 days. Keeping it local, the barrels used for ageing are also produced in the Adirondacks. "1892 Forever Wild" is in reference to the year Adirondack Park was established by the New York State Legislature, becoming the largest publicly protected area in the contiguous United States and declared "forever wild". At this time, it is only available in New York State.
  • 1
    Sweet & Fruity
    Dudognon is one of the oldest and most respected estates in Cognac's heart: the Grande Champagne. Here the region's famous chalky soils are most pure creating spirits with hard minerality and elegant finesse. The Dudognon vineyards are notable for not using pesticide or herbicide -- a relative anomaly in the region. The hands-off approach continues to the cellar and bottling, where the only addition is water. The reserve bottling is a relatively light color because it averages 10 years of age and is unadulterated by any added caramel coloring.