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Oct 5, 2012 05:52 AM

Is there such thing as good cheap brandy?

If so is there anything you guys recommend? I usually like applejack, but I want a standard, not to pricy brandy for drinking and cooking.

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  1. Depends what you mean by cheap. Landy VS is a reasonably good cognac for $20/bottle. Then there are Spanish brandies like Fundador and Greek brandy like Metaxas - I haven't price checked those lately.

    2 Replies
    1. re: kagemusha49

      I second that. Robert Hess has used it frequently on The Cocktail Spirit, and it's my go-to brandy for cocktails. In Montgomery County, MD it's around $20 a bottle. The VSOP, which is a better sipper, is usually a touch under $25. However, I've actually done side-by-side comparisons with the VS and VSOP in sidecars, and found the difference negligible, so for cocktails, I choose to save the money and go with the VS.

      Unless you're getting the Bottled In Bond, higher-end, Laird's apple brandy, then you're really not getting anything near a brandy with that applejack. Applejack is a cheap product made mainly from grain-neutral spirits, caramel coloring, and apple brandy for a touch of flavor. It's not without its uses, but it's nothing at all like actual brandy, or even actual apple brandy. Also worth noting is that apple brandy/calvados really isn't a very good sub for regular brandy in cocktails; the flavor really is quite different.

      1. re: The Big Crunch

        For what it's worth, the Laird's 7 1/2 year old Apple Brandy is very tasty, real, and only 25 bucks a bottle. To us, it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without it.

    2. I've been pretty satisfied with Paul Masson VS for cooking and cocktail making, especially at around $10 a bottle. If you're looking to both cook and have something interesting to drink on its own, that may require two different bottles.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Klunco

        The Masson Grande amber VSOP is just a couple bucks more and I would rather sip it than some of the mass market Cognacs such as Hennessey and Courvoisier.

        St Remy VSOP is also quite decent for about the same money.

      2. Foret French brandy is made by a Cognac house using grapes not picked in Cognac so it cannot be called as such, but the technique is of high quality. Comes in at $20 or just below for the VSOP.

        1 Reply
        1. re: yarm

          Landy (owned by the Cognac Ferrand people) is a cognac but doesn't use grapes from Grande Champagne or Petite Champagne. Most of the grapes used by Landy come from Borderies. I'll need to check out Foret.

        2. In a similar vein as other comments, depends on what you want. If you want a nice cognac in a snifter, probably not so much. If you are mixing cocktails, though, I really likely the E&J VSOP. I like it better that either the Christian Brothers or Paul Masson (though with difference to the previous poster, this is likely a matter of personal opinion) . Wouldn't have thought I would have liked the Gallo brandy, but was happily surprised.

          1. I don't drink a lot of brandy, so I don't have a big frame of reference. I have had the 10 year old Torres brandy from Spain and like it a lot. It's just under $20 here, if I remember right.