What is the Smoothest Brandy?

Brandy is a fine spirit, and as with cognac and bourbon, the world offers a vast array of options for premium sipping. Whether you’re looking for something to warm your hands or mix in a cocktail, there’s a smooth brandy to suit every occasion and budget. And while the broad selection might seem daunting to those new to the category, a little patience and trial will reveal the best brandies in the business.

Often referred to simply as brandy, the liquid is made from distilled wine and can come from anywhere in the world. Originally a favorite for bartenders, the spirit is now gaining popularity as an ingredient for cocktails and sipping neat or over ice. While there are many different types, the smoothest brandy is based on how it’s distilled and aged.

There are several factors to consider, including the aging process and what type of grapes it is derived from. In general, a higher-quality brandy will be more expensive, but also provide a more complex flavor profile and richer body. It’s also important to consider the bottle’s aroma and tasting notes. “The best brandies are a harmonious balance of powerful, elegant scents and smooth tasting notes,” says Desoblin.

For those just getting into the category, he recommends starting with a VS (very special) cognac like Hennessy or Martell XO. These are blends of eaux-de-vie from a number of different regions, and will offer an approachable taste for those who are just starting out. “The youngest cognac in a VS is two years old,” he says, which makes it clean and smooth, “like orange sherbet.”

Another great option is Giffard, the brandy producer that has been around for over a century. The VSOP from the company is clean and smooth, with hints of vanilla and orange peel. Hennessy and Martell are also great brands to start with, but the price of the Giffard will fit most budgets.

Other brandies to try include a VSOP from Jollite Armagnac, which is distilled in a copper pot and aged up to seven years in French and American oak. This high-end cognac is designed for mixing and features a dark amber color with an aroma of candied apricot, orange blossom, and honeysuckle. It’s perfect for making a Sidecar, and also pairs well with a splash of triple sec.

If you’re interested in South American brandy, Desoblin recommends singani, a drink that comes from Bolivia and is made from the aromatic muscat of Alexandria grape. Distilled and fermented to produce a wildly fragrant nose, the spirit is then double-distilled in a copper pot and rested for eight months. “Singani has a freshness that you don’t see in pisco,” he says, and works especially well in a pisco sour.

Regardless of which type you choose, it’s always important to remember that you should enjoy your brandy in moderation. It’s recommended to warm the liquid slightly by holding the bowl of your glass above a candle for a moment or two before taking small, slow sips. This allows the vapors to escape, which will eliminate some of the alcohol heat and will help you appreciate the finer points of the spirit’s complex palate.