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DavidCampen on Review of various XO grade Cognacs and brandies.

30 May 2010 No Comment

Several months ago Shopper's Vineyard had a very good deal on 50 ml miniatures of Hine Antique and I ended up buying several liters. This was my introduction to a class of brandies far superior to the VSOP cognacs from the large cognac houses. I had previously enjoyed VSOP Cognacs from the big houses such as Courvoisier, Remy Martin, Hennessy etc but Hine Antique is vastly superior. Compared to Hine Antique, the VSOP Cognacs are thin, sharp and acidic. Hine Antique OTOH is smooth and rich.

Since the normal price for Hine Antique if $125-$150 per 750 ml bottle. I decided to try to find something less expensive but equally as good. So far the only brandy I have found that is in the same quality class with Hine Antique Cognac has been about equally priced.

First I thought I would try an Armagnac; a domain controlled French brandy from the Armagnac region south of Cognac. So I bought a bottle of Delord 25 year wood aged Bas Armagnac from BevMo for about $70. I figured that since Armagnac brandies were less well known than Cognac brandies perhaps less money would still get me an equally high quality. Armagnac brandies differ from Cognac brandies by using different grapes and using a single pass distillation while Cognacs are double distilled. As might be expected then the Delord 25 year Armagnac was very aromatic, more the the Hine Antique Cognac but it was not as smooth, round, viscous as the Hine Antique. So while the Delord 25 year Armagnac is very fine and much better than any large house VSOP Cognac that I have had I can't quite put it in the same superior class with Hine Antique.

So next I tried Germain-Robin Alambic Brandy, Select Barrel XO produced in California using Cognac production methods. This is in the same class with Hine Antique Cognac but at about the same price: $100-$125.

Last I will mention 3 other brandies that, while they cannot compete with Hine Antique Cognac, Germain-Robin XO California Brandy or Delord 25 year Armagnac, are at least as good or better than VSOP Cognacs. These are 2 Spanish Solera Gran Reserva brandies and a French brandy.

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