No longer resigned to the after-dinner drinks trolley, the brandy category is displaying quality and creativity in adundance. We present our pick of the best value for money brands on the market.
The Spirits Business
held its annual Brandy Masters last month, where an experienced panel of judges recognised the best bottlings in the business.
Looking across multiple categories, from Armagnac and Pot Still to Vintage, a wide range of brandies were awarded the top accolades of Gold and Silver medals for their quality.
The individual scores of each entrant have not been revealed, however these are five of the highest rated medalists in the competition, in no particular order
While some expressions are not standard priced, our judges have given each brandy listed here the seal of approval for offering excellent quality within their respective price categories.
Click through to the following pages to view the top 10 best value for money brandies of 2017.
Van Ryn's 20 Years Old
Van Ryn's 20 Years Old was celebrated for its "freshly baked cake" aromas and "ripe and dried fruit palatte" and was awarded a Silver medal in the South African – Pot Still Aged over 13 Years flight. Bottled at 38% abv, the 20-year-old expression is part of the Collection Reserve range and is created from Colombar and Chenin Blanc grapes, made at the only brandy distillery in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Oude Molen XO
Oude Molen was rewarded with a Silver for its "fresh dough" ambience and "good minerality". Created at Oude Molen Distillery, the 40% abv expression comprises brandies produced using Colombard, Chenin Blanc and Ugni Blanc grapes that have been matured in oak barrels for between 10 and 16 years old.
Richelieu 10 Year Old
Distell's Richelieu 10 Year Old was awarded a Gold in the South African Single Vintage category. "The nose was great – really delicate and crisp with liquorice and aniseed," one panel member noted. Another praised the expression's all-round strength of the gentle palate, which built with caramel notes as it developed with time. Bottled at 38% abv, it is matured in French oak for 10 years and double-distilled.
Van Ryn's 12 Years Old
Judges found Van Ryn's 12 Years Old to have a "well-rounded rich palate", awarding it a Gold medal in the South African – Pot Still Aged 10-12 Years flight. The expression has been for 12 years in small French oak casks and is bottled at 38% abv. "It had a great balance between richness, fruitiness and sweetness – and was really quite reminiscent of Cognac," one judge remarked.
Chateau de Laubade Intemporel No.5
One of only two Armagnacs in the competition is Chateau de Laubade Intemporel No.5, which was awarded a Gold medal. Château de Laubade was founded in 1870 in the heart of Gascony, the original home of distillation in France, and has been owned by the Lesgourgues family since 1974. The expression was deemed "a lovely mix of oranges, wood spice, and cinnamon"."There’s a minerality on the nose that matched the finish – I loved how it all came together, with a sense of distillery character," one judge said.