Brandy is a wide-reaching and highly popular spirit that evokes a great deal of national pride across the world, with countries becoming highly protective of their particular product.
At its essence, it’s a distilled wine made from grapes and then often aged, depending on the country of origin. The French hold court with one of the most popular brandies, Cognac. It’s the favoured tipple of countless icons, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Snoop Dogg. But Cognac is not the only brandy worth sipping. It’s equally matched by Armagnac, another French brandy style, and the various Greek varieties, which are some of the most widely popular brandies in duty free stores (and the first to be consumed in space). The Chileans and Peruvians have been warring for centuries over their particular brandy, Pisco, which is generally un-aged (and is the primary ingredient in the hugely popular Pisco Sour).
At home, brandy’s popularity has waned, garnering a reputation for being a tipple your grandparents had before bed. But elsewhere, brandy’s reputation couldn’t be any further removed. The big Cognac houses in France adhere to specific laws that mean only they can call their product Cognac and their marketing budgets are unrivalled by many other spirits. Often seen as a status symbol – from the karaoke bars of Tokyo to rappers’ after parties in LA – if you’re drinking a fine Cognac, people know you’ve made it.
Drunk neat and appreciated for all its subtle nuances, it’s possible to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for old and rare Cognacs. All throughout Asia, the preferred mixer is green tea, while South Americans can’t get enough of the Pisco Sour, a tasty mix of Pisco, citrus, sugar, egg white and bitters.
It’s time to rethink Brandy and get back on the grape train.
Try our favourite, Cognac and Schweppes Tonic with a slice of lemon.