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Is there such thing as good cheap brandy?

YAYME Oct 5, 2012 05:52 AM

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.

  1. b
    BusyBaker Mar 10, 2014 01:06 PM

    Anyone have trouble with their brandy losing all its flavor if it gets too hot? I've tried a bunch and if I'm doing anything above a low heat the flavor is just gone or some even become kinda harsh and the aroma is unpleasant.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BusyBaker
      JMF Mar 10, 2014 01:31 PM

      Um... well, of course. Any spirit starts to lose its flavor and aroma once heated over 85-90F. Alcohol is volatile. The higher the temp., the faster and more complete the flavor loss.

    2. splatgirl Feb 20, 2013 12:42 PM

      The talk of Landy is making me laugh. Good to know, though. I only really use cognac for cooking, and my last couple of bottles have been Landy VS, which I have to admit I initially chose because the bottle has a greyhound on it. Happy accident, and a repeat purchase because it tastes nice.

      ...now that I have outed myself as a mindless greyhound-loving idiot...

      1. t
        The Big Crunch Feb 19, 2013 08:25 PM

        I know less about brandy than just about any other base spirit. Ever since I got into cocktails I've been using Landy VS or VSOP, because both of them are cheap, taste great, and are often on sale around here bringing them down to $20 or less for a bottle. However, since it was on sale, and I just ran out of my bottle of Landy VS, and to shift things up and maybe start learning a bit more about other brandy, I picked up a bottle of St. Remy XO today for $11.99. I haven't used it in any cocktails yet, but it is a noticeable change from the Landy. There's a good bit of butterscotch on the nose as well as a lot more wood, and a taste more like blended scotch than the lush, round and fruity flavor of the Landy. I ended up saving about $4, since the Landy was on sale this month, as it usually is, and while I wouldn't say the St. Remy is bad (it's really not) I don't plan on picking up another bottle given the value of the Landy VS. Then again, who knows, maybe it will make some killer cocktails.

        1 Reply
        1. re: The Big Crunch
          tomjb27 Feb 20, 2013 06:09 PM

          I bought Landy VS for sidecars based on this tread, and I couldn't be happier for $18.

        2. f
          FrankJBN Nov 15, 2012 10:23 AM

          A couple of others have already suggested the direction I will point you and that is toward Spain. Inexpensive, reliable brandies are available form several makers.

          2 Replies
          1. re: FrankJBN
            ncyankee101 Nov 15, 2012 11:10 AM

            I know several people on here have recommended the Pedro Domecq Fundador, though I haven't had any luck finding it yet.

            1. re: ncyankee101
              The Big Crunch Nov 15, 2012 11:42 AM

              Maybe I'll go ahead and bite on that one. My bottle of Landy is about a fourth full, so I'll need to replace that in the next couple of weeks. Fundador runs $15.89 a bottle up here, though Landy VS is on sale for $19.99.

          2. l
            lcool Nov 14, 2012 04:17 AM

            E & J Gallo have three tiers of domestic brandy VS,VSOP & XO..All worth considering for cooking, finishing a sauce or confectionery.
            Drink? I think the VSOP is cocktail,mixer worthy.The XO on the shelf now is shadow of the original,older version.
            Also on the shelf is an E&J ,?special,limited edition brandy,new to me.

            1. d
              DrinkinLife Nov 13, 2012 08:51 PM

              If you want to go "American", give E&J X.O. a try at $13-16, depending where you are. Works well in cocktails such as the Sidecar and a Brandy Old Fashioned. Fine neat unless your guests are Brandy snobs and want Martell or better.

              2 Replies
              1. re: DrinkinLife
                ncyankee101 Nov 14, 2012 12:53 AM

                have you had the E+J XO recently? I had heard it was good at one time but they changed the bottle and the formulation drastically a couple years ago, now the label says "extra smooth". I have a bottle and it tastes like cheap rum to me.

                1. re: ncyankee101
                  jaykayen Nov 15, 2012 10:11 PM

                  The extra smooth, I think, is flavored.

              2. ted Nov 11, 2012 07:06 PM

                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.

                1. m
                  mlgoodson Nov 10, 2012 10:18 PM

                  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. yarm Oct 7, 2012 08:10 AM

                    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
                      kagemusha49 Oct 7, 2012 09:57 AM

                      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. k
                      Klunco Oct 5, 2012 12:07 PM

                      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
                        ncyankee101 Oct 5, 2012 01:01 PM

                        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. k
                        kagemusha49 Oct 5, 2012 09:58 AM

                        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
                          The Big Crunch Oct 8, 2012 09:10 AM

                          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
                            MGZ Nov 15, 2012 10:10 AM

                            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.

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