Fermentation has been a treasured practice in the culinary world since the dawn of civilization. Wine is one of the earliest products of fermentation, dating to 6000 BC.
Fermented grapes transformed into a treasured beverage in cultures around the globe.
The advent of beverage distillation occurred long after fermentation, and wine was one of the first products to undergo distillation during the first millennium CE.
Today, distilled wine is a beloved spirit known as brandy. Below, you’ll find a list of longstanding and novel brands producing top-shelf brandy.
Bertoux is an American brandy brand located in California that uses a blend of different brandies aged 3-7 years in French and American oak barrels. Bertoux has a rich, medium body with flavor notes of honey, dried fruit, and Christmas spices.
Creators Jeff Bell and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak designed the blend for use in cocktails.
Singani 63 offers a resurrection of a centuries-old South American brandy tradition created by Indigenous Andean tribes in Bolivia. The product may be called brandy to the rest of the world, but Bolivian natives call it Singani.
Made from the Muscat grape grown in the Andean highlands, Singani 63 has a clean, slightly sweet palate that elevates any delicious cocktail. Check out the website’s recipe for the Bolivian 63 cocktail for the best way to enjoy this ancient, yet recently discovered brandy.
Founded in the 18th century, Hennessy is one of the most famous and venerable producers of Cognac in the world. Cognac is a French brandy produced within the confines of the wine-growing region surrounding Cognac France.
Hennessy produces numerous types of cognac, but their top seller is the V.S.O.P. Privilege with tasting notes of vanilla, juicy fruits, spices, and tobacco.
One of the oldest French cognac distillers, Martell originated in 1715 and offers over 300 years of expertise in cognac. Martell produces both single-sourced and blended cognacs.
Their top-shelf brandy is the legendary Cordon Bleu, an extra-aged cognac that offers full-bodied richness and a palate that balances fruit and spice.
Founded in 1835 by French businessman Felix Courvoisier, Courvoisier is a French cognac brand that distinguishes itself from the other major cognac producers by outsourcing the distillation process.
Courvoisier’s collection of cognacs is the most decorated collection of any cognac brand. A top-selling variety is the XO Royal, with tasting notes of hazelnuts, cinnamon flavor, and honey that linger through its warming finish.
Remy Martin completes the four major cognac brands in conjunction with Martell, Courvoisier, and Hennessy. Founded in 1724, Remy Martin has become the top-selling cognac brand in the world.
Its biggest-selling bottle is the Remy Martin VSOP, which debuted in 1972. It has a well-rounded flavor profile of fruit and spice, featuring dried and candied fruits, licorice, and vanilla.
Asbach is a German brandy producer founded in 1892 by Hugo Asbach. Asbach uses the finest blend of wines, distilled twice and aged for between 2-4 years in small Limousin Oak casks.
The signature bottle of Asbach, called Uralt, is a super smooth brandy with tasting notes of plum, honey, and a nutty almond finish.
Christian Brothers Brandy
Another California brandy company, Christian Brothers Brandy originated in 1882 as the collaboration of a Christian laymen community known as Christian Brothers. Christian Brothers Brandy distills their native Californian wine blend in copper stills, following a European tradition.
Their signature blend of brandy, VS is bourbon-barrel aged for two years, instilling a rich fruity palate with a warming finish.
Philbert is an artisanal French cognac company producing small batches of the finest French cognac. Philbert debuted in 2012, controlling every aspect of the cognac-making process from vine growing to harvest, to distillation and bottling.
Their award-winning Rare Cask Finish cognac uses Oloroso Sherry casks to finish the aging process, instilling aromas of toasted nuts and red berries.
E&J Brandy is an American brandy distillery named for the founders and brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo. The Fresno California distillery opened in 1975.
One of its top-shelf brandy varieties is the two-year barrel-aged XO, that’s charcoal filtered for optimal smoothness. It features flavor notes of toasted nuts and fruit.
Another California brandy, Germain Robin is the collaboration of master distiller Hubert Germain Robin and professor Ansley Coale. Germain Robin asserts their distillery is the pioneer California brandy to use locally sourced California grapes.
They produce one variety of California brandy using Colombard grapes. The flavor palate has a rich, full-bodied mouthfeel with flavor notes of oak, fruit blossom, and dried apricot.
Osocalis Apple Brandy
A small, artisanal brandy producer out of California, Osocalis gets its name from the Indigenous name for present-day Santa Cruz which is home to its distillery. They’ve been producing alambic brandy since the 1990s in small batches.
Osocalis Apple Brandy uses various apple varieties instead of grapes to undergo the same classic brandy distillation process. This cider-based brandy has a delicate apple flavor and a fiery finish.
D’Usse is a modern French cognac distillery founded by famed rap artist Jay Z and run by master distiller Michel Casavecchia out of the 200-year-old French distillery Chateau de Cognac.
The signature D’Usse VSOP has a complex aroma of wood, cinnamon, and flowers. It is a high-end sipping brandy.
Founded by the Camus family in 1863, Camus is a French Cognac distillery in Cognac, France, and continues to be family operated. Its 5th generation Camus family distillers produce a lauded line of authentic cognacs.
A top-shelf cognac from Camus is the Very Special, crafted from a blend of hand-selected Eaux-de-vie, with fruity aromas that extend the flavor palate.
Hine is another long standing Cognac distillery, which was founded in 1763. Hine emphasizes showcasing the woody flavors in cognacs, selecting the finest French oak casks to age the freshly distilled brandies.
Their smooth and delicate Hine Rare is the pride of the signature collection, using a blend of 20 Eaux-de-vie from Champagne grapes.
Torres brandy is the first brandy producer out of Barcelona, Spain, founded in 1928. Torres uses local wines from around Barcelona aged in oak barrels. Their most renowned brandy is the Torres 10 Reserva Imperial, winning double gold in the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
It has a strong oak aroma and flavor with warming notes of vanilla and cinnamon.
Brandy is a distilled blend of wines, and each wine-producing region has created a unique version. Top Shelf brandy varieties come from the old and new worlds, using creative and historic methods.
After sipping your way through this list of top-shelf brandies, let us know which you enjoyed most in the below comments.
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