Featured Best Buy Booze: E&J Brandy VSOP

June 20, 2011 — E&J Brandy

I’m going to offend some people with this week’s featured Best Buy Booze.

Brandy is much like scotch in the sense that people tend to be pretty obsessive over their specific brands.

There also tends to be a pretty major jumpstep from certain brands to others. If you get the wrong kind you’re looking at drinking some colored lighter fluid. And having to deal with the aftermath.

Some background on brandy. From greatcocktails.co.uk

Hats off to the Dutch! For it’s largely thanks to Dutch merchants that we have brandy today.

Back in the seventeenth century in order both to preserve the quality of wine over a long journey by sea, and to be able to transport more of it at one time, the merchants began to distil it before setting sail. When the cargo reached its destination, it was watered down to produce what the Dutch called brandewijn, or burned wine. Whether that name refers to the distillation process or reflects what people thought of the taste is up for speculation!

What was discovered though was that the undiluted liquid, stored for the journey in oak casks, had an improved flavour over the diluted version and a vastly different taste from the original wine.

Brandy is traditionally enjoyed at room temperature (or just a bit below) from a brandy snifter — a tulip shaped glass that channels the flavors and scents of the wine-based spirit towards the nose.

They are also divvied up into different quality distillations:

  • A.C.: aged two years in wood.
  • V.S.: “Very Special” or 3-Star, aged at least three years in wood.
  • V.S.O.P.: “Very Superior Old Pale” or 5-Star, aged at least five years in wood.
  • X.O.: “Extra Old”, Napoleon or Vieille Reserve, aged at least six years, Napoleon at least four years.
  • Vintage: Stored in the cask until the time it is bottled with the label showing the vintage date.
  • Hors d’age: These are too old to determine the age.

A good rule of thumb my bro Josh Davis over at DrinxXx on Me taught me when I was first getting into the brandy/cognac game: Avoid anything below VSOP. It’s like kerosene.

So to this week’s featured booze.

E&J Brandy VSOP


Strong wine notes on the front with the alcohol on the end.


Harsh. Great complexities, but that the bite of it overpowers any of the subtleties.


Not as harsh, but still not great.

The Good News

No, this is not a sipping brandy. But we do have some experience with this brandy cocktails, and you couldn’t ask for a better mixing brandy. The harshness of the neat liquor tends to disappear when paired with the right mixers, creating that great brandywine backing on each of your cocktails.

So buckle in, because this week’s drinks are gonna be good.




  1. […] a brief history on why brandy is called brandy check out this previous post that touches on the history of the […]

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