The United States, for example, is known, for its applejack, which is an apple brandy. And there are also plenty of American producers sticking with the spirit’s traditional grape base.
Perfect as an after-dinner sip or mixed into classic cocktails like a Sidecar, here are seven American brandies to try.
American brandies to look for
Arkansas Black 21 Year Old Straight Applejack; $125, 95 points. This limited-edition apple brandy offers big, rounded stone fruit and fresh apple integrated with palate-coating vanilla, almond and honey, finishing long with zingy ginger, cinnamon and clove. Overall, a good balance of fruit and oak, suited for sipping or mixing. Aged in French ex-Chardonnay barrels, the producer bills this as the “longest-aged domestic apple brandy available anywhere.” Only 20 barrels made. —Kara Newman
Copper & Kings A Song For You American Brandy; $50, 91 points. Released to celebrate the distillery’s five-year anniversary, this American brandy is matured for five years in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. Bright topaz in hue, it intertwines oak and spice with brandied orange peel and orange marmalade on nose and palate. Sip with an ice cube to take off the alcohol edge. —K.N.
Frísco Brandy; $35, 92 points. This pisco-inspired immature brandy is made from California grapes. It’s clear in the glass, with a sweet, distinctly fruity scent. The palate echoes that sweetness, warming all the way down and finishing with an echo of tropical fruit. Mix into cocktails and you just might fool your favorite pisco-lover. —K.N.
Dogfish Head Esprit Malade; $34, 89 points. Think of this as a spirit-cider hybrid, made with a blend of barrel-aged apple brandy, hard apple cider and sweet, non-alcoholic cider. It’s juicy and relatively light on the alcohol content, though it still packs plenty of punch. Look for an amber hue, bright apricot and vanilla scents and a distinctly sweet palate enlivened by citrusy tang and mouthwatering acidity. It’s similar to French beverages like Pommeau or Pineau de Charentes, which also combine juice and brandy. —K.N.
Mastrogiannis Baton Brandy; $55, 89 points. Made with Riesling grapes sourced from Washington state, aged Hungarian ex-wine casks at least 2 years, this honey-hued brandy has aromas of toast and butterscotch. The drying palate suggests chamomile tea with honey, finishing drying and little hot, with hints of cedar, nutmeg and an intriguing dried cherry note. —K.N.
Christian Brothers Sacred Bond Bottled-in-Bond Brandy; $26, 88 points. This California grape brandy is aged four years in former bourbon barrels, then bottled at 100 proof. Expect a dark amber hue and Bourbon-like nose and palate suggesting vanilla, cocoa, oak and a hint of dried fig. Adding water tames the fire a bit and brings more vanilla forward. Recommended for mixing into sidecars. —K.N.
1889 Royal Brandy VS; $10, 87 points. Amber in the glass, this grape brandy has honey and oak aromas, and a surprisingly sweet flavor that coats the palate with honey, vanilla and maple, finishing oaky on hints of orange peel and fiery cayenne and clove. Natural flavor and caramel color added. —K.N.