Brandy may be scarce on many of today’s cocktail menus, but it’s really the OG spirit of classic cocktails, and we think it deserves a bit of a Renaissance. Brandies of various kinds were distilled throughout the American northeast before Whiskey was ever even dreamed up farther inland, fueling the livers of the revolution and eventually making some of the first cocktails. Old school drinks that we generally associate with whiskey, like an old fashioned or Sazerac, were originally made with brandy, before changing national tastes made American whiskey the barrel aged spirit du jour.
What the hell is brandy anyway?
The most common kind of brandy, and what most people are talking about when they say brandy, is produced from grapes, and is often aged in barrels, though not always. The grapes are picked younger than is usual for table wine production, making a more acidic and less sugary white wine, which is then distilled into an eau de vie, or unaged brandy, before generally going into oak barrels.
So what do we mean, "barrel finished" spirits? After all, don't most spirits spend at least some time in a barrel? What we specifically mean by the term is that the spirit has spent at least some time in a barrel that had previously held an unrelated spirit or wine. In this article we introduce just a few of our favorites sorted by "barrel finish" type. Explore, mix, enjoy!