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Bargain Brandy?

Anyone have any recommendations on good bargain-priced brandies? I'm gradually building a home bar and want to fill the brandy gap in my base liquor arsenal with this month's purchase from the rather meager "bar budget". Just to give you some idea about me, I know nothing about brandy though I'm a fairly knowledgeable and passionate Scotch and bourbon drinker. While I may discover I love sipping the stuff neat, the main point of the brandy will be for mixing cocktails. Anyone want to lob some ideas for some respectable (if not spectacular) brandies for less than $30 a fifth?

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  1. Landy VSOP is $29 locally. It's made by the folks who make Cognac Ferrand and uses grapes from Borderies instead of Grande Champagne. It's a nice tipple. Beware of the cognacs that say they are VSOP and sell for less than $20 - they are crap.
    I tend to avoid anything less than VSOP but the VS would be a little cheaper

    1 Reply
    1. re: kagemusha49

      Cool! Landy VSOP is on sale this month for $21.99 at the liquor store down the street. I've read some positive remarks on chowhound about Martel VS and St. Remy VSOP, obviously with the concessions that none of these are considered excellent, but for the price, are decent.

    2. If you are willing to try an American brandy, the Paul Masson VSOP at $13 or so is a pretty good choice.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DavidT

        I second the Masson Grande Amber VSOP, quite decent for the money. Also St Remy VSOP. I actually prefer both to some of the big name Cognac VSOPs such as Courvoisier and Hennessy, though I do like Remy Martin.

        Jacques cardin VSOP is also not bad, I have gotten it on sale for $25 and have seen it online for around $20.

      2. I recommend a German brandy called Asbach Uralt. It almost has a flavor profile closer to a heavy bodied bourbon and runs around $30 for a fifth.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hawkeyeui93

          Hmmm... As a bourbon man that does appeal to me, but I wonder how well it would work in brandy/cognac based cocktails. Sounds like it might be fairly close to a particularly soft, wheated bourbon like Old Weller, which I might add is quite a good bargain IMO. Looked for the Lndy today but they were sold out, so I'll probably give it a try when they get some more in. Anyone have any thoughts on Martel VS, which goes for around $26 in these parts?

          1. re: The Big Crunch

            My mother is a big cognac drinker and really enjoys the Asbach Uralt, but do note that she drinks her cognac straight (and not mixed in a cocktail).

        2. I like Presidente from Mexico. Beverages and More has it at $12 for a liter (club price). I drink it neat, by the way.

          1. We are partial to Spanish brandies which have a little extra richness from being aged in old sherry casks. In the sub-$30, we buy Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva for $17. It works great in drinks that have citrus or a lot of other flavors; do not be deterred by the price tag -- Spain is just less inflated for price as compared to other regions in Europe. For drinks where a Cognac is needed, Martell VS or Courvoisier VS both work great at the $25-30 price point.

            http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: yarm

              I'll grant that Fundador and Asbach Uralt are perfectly fine for mixing in cocktails. There's also the Greek brandy Metaxas that would satisfice. However, for any neat drnking I maintain that you should stick to VSOP or better and, as I've indicated there are good VSOPs at under $30.

            2. Thanks for the feedback. I picked up a bottle of the Landy VSOP and actually thought it was terrific by itself. After making a Sidecar and Harvard Cocktail with it however, I began to wonder if it wasn't too good for a cocktail ingredient. After slowly enjoying a couple of snifters of the stuff, I really couldn't detect any of the things I enjoyed so much about it in the two cocktails, which were quite good in and of themselves. Presidente and Solera are both available down here in the DC 'burbs for around $15 a bottle and I'll probably pick one up today and start doing some comparisons to see whether it would be a cheaper substitute for the Landy.

              Metaxas is a tad more expensive down here, but not much.

              Also, Yarm, I'm honored to hear your opinion. I actually just discovered your blog the same day I posted this question and have thoroughly enjoyed reading a bit of it. The number of cocktails that y'all have made and reviewed in great detail is truly impressive. As I said before, I'm a beer, bourbon, and Scotch geek of many, many years, but the world of cocktails is quite new to me.

              2 Replies
              1. re: The Big Crunch

                I'm glad you like the Landy. As I opined elsewhere, cheaper brandies and cognacs are probably fine if you're just mixing them up with other ingredients. All in all, I hope you don't feel like you wasted your money on the VSOP - if you do, send the rest of the bottle to me and I'll finish it off for you.

                1. re: kagemusha49

                  Hmmm... I dunno... I think I'll need to finish the rest of the Landy to see if it really was a mistake :)

              2. I've recently been using Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac, which I can often find for just under $30 in my area. It's quite nice in my opinion -- not too heavy, and with some citrus notes. It works very well in cocktails.

                4 Replies
                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  I looooove a good Armagnac - it's a shame that the growers are rapidly being forced into extinction.

                  1. re: kagemusha49

                    Do you have a link on this? I'm not aware of the issues in that region.

                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                      I don't have a good link - I was relating something I was told by a cognac salesman (no bias there). http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifesty...

                      1. re: kagemusha49

                        While my preferred cognacs are either the cheapo Landy VSOP or the more expensive Delamain Grande Champagne XO I have lately become very fond of the armagnac Marie Duffau. Simply stated it is an amazing value for around $30 a bottle.