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Brandy is a catchall term for an aged spirit derived from grapes, the most famous of which come from the French regions of Cognac and Armagnac. Read on for more information about Brandy.

Fantastic French Brandies

Fantastic French Brandies

Indulge yourselves in the final days of autumn in style with this fantastic selection of French brandies…

Autumn means the days are shorter, colder and darker. But this is nothing to fear or loathe because it’s the perfect setting to enjoy everything the wonderful world of French brandy has to offer!

And why not? French brandy is no longer a forgotten favourite. It’s ditched the stuffy old-man’s image. The three French ‘Appellation Contrôlée’* brandies, Armagnac, Calvados (the Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams to Cognac’s Beyonce Knowles) and Cognac, are all now welcome guests at cocktail parties and bartenders have embraced the bold, complex spirits with a wide range of styles and character.

So, join us, both seasoned experts and intrepid newcomers alike, as we run through some of the most flavoursome and fantastic French brandy around. À votre santé!

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Copper & Kings: The American brandy revival

Copper & Kings

Earlier this week, US wine and spirits giant Constellation Brands snapped up a minority stake in independent Kentucky distillery Copper & Kings American Brandy Company. Following the news, we chatted to Joe Heron, founder and CEO of the innovative brandy maker, to discuss the past, present and future of a category that his business seemingly single-handedly reinvigorated.

“I’ll give you an analogy,” Heron tells me, as we deliberate the distillery, the deal, and the wider American brandy category over the phone. We’re speaking immediately after news of his company’s transaction with Constellation Brands broke. “We’re the Leicester City [Football Club] of spirits*, because we are relentless. We have no money, but we are relentless, and we are very, very fast. We pass well from the middle, so that’s what we do. We innovate at a pace that’s unheard of. Once we’re in, we’re running and gunning and it’s very hard to keep up with that.”

If this brilliant description sounds somewhat business-like, it’s because Heron and his wife are established entrepreneurs who have always sought to capture what he calls “the vacant space”. And they’re bloody good at it. Nutrisoda, a line of health-and-wellness soft drinks, was their first endeavour, launched during a period when energy drinks reigned supreme. They sold it to PepsiCo in 2006. When everyone was raving about craft beer, they launched Crispin Hard Cider Company, which was bought by MillerCoors in 2012.

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Spotlight on… Armagnac!

Armagnac is a fantastic spirit that many savvy drinkers, including many whisky fans, have begun exploring with enthusiasm in recent years. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to dip a toe in the Armagnac ‘eau’, as we’re offering Free UK Shipping on your *entire* order (or £5 off elsewhere) when you buy any bottle of Comte de Lauvia until the end of July. That includes their Fine, Réserve and Hors d’Age expressions, newly launched in the UK!

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Categories : Armagnac, News, Tasting Notes
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World Whiskies Awards and World Drinks Awards Winners

World Drinks Awards World Whiskies Awards 2016

Yesterday saw the World’s Best whiskies and spirits crowned at the World Drinks Awards, including the World Whiskies Awards.

Before we get into the results though, some good news! Drinks by the Dram have once again teamed up with the World Drinks Awards to create an easy way to taste a whole bunch of these award winners! Head over to our World Drinks Awards 2016 page to browse their selection of 8 different World Whiskies Awards and World Drinks Awards Winners Tasting Sets.

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Categories : Armagnac, Cognac, Gin, Irish Whiskey, Japanese Whisky, Liqueurs, News, Rum, Scotch Whisky, Vodka, Whisky
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Around The World In 80 Drams – Week 12 – Van Ryn’s Distillery

Van Ryn Distillery

Our worldwide magical mystery tour continues! OK, it’s neither magical (I am no wizard) nor is it a mystery (I’ve got it all planned out. Sorta.), but we will be exploring the world of spirits and it does indeed continue this week with our second dram of South African deliciousness! I mentioned at the end of the last blog that we wouldn’t be going far from the James Sedgwick Distillery, and we’re certainly not. We’d only have to travel about 25 miles vaguely in the direction of Cape Town to Van Ryn’s Distillery near Stellenbosch!

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Categories : Tasting Notes
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Around The World In 80 Drams – Week 7 – Courvoisier

Courvoisier

Hello again and welcome to another edition of Around the World in 80 Drams, the blog series where I travel the world heading east tasting 80 different tasty treats. Well, sort of. This week we’re actually just a touch more west than when we started! It’s a windy route we’re taking for sure, but we’re tasting excellent spirits all around the world, which more than makes up for it.

I left you with a hint last week, mentioning Emperors of the French with distinctive headgear, so of course I’m talking about Napoleon Bonaparte and Courvoisier Cognac! I also said it would take about 5 hours to travel the 240 miles south from Domaine Dupont to Château Courvoisier via a flock of seagulls (not the band – though their haircuts did look quite aerodynamic back in the day).

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Categories : Cognac, Tasting Notes
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Master of Cocktails – The-Candy-Apple-Jack-Hammer

Master of Cocktails Candy Apple Jack Hammer

It’s the return of #MasterofCocktails! And there are a few changes to the format… We’re going to be making this a much less step-by-step affair – in return though, you’ll be getting more advanced, exciting cocktail recipes, with more focus on presentation and garnish. We’re also moving to once a fortnight, although still at the usual time of 6pm Sunday on twitter and on the blog the very next day.

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Categories : Cocktails
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Gascony Calling: A Single Cask Series Armagnac!

Château de Castex Armagnac Master of Malt

So it may be gorgeous,
So it may not be famous,
Armagnac, twenty-one years old.

There’s a new release in the Master of Malt Single Cask Series charts, and the artist isn’t even Scottish! In fact, it’s not even whisky. (We do have some more Single Cask whiskies on the way shortly though… and not necessarily all from Scotland…) Extending the range into different spirit types entirely, we’re delighted to present our very first independent bottling of Armagnac!

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Categories : Armagnac, News, Tasting Notes
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Master of Cocktails – The Widow’s Kiss

Master of Cocktails The Widow's Kiss

Well hello there cocktail fan. I nearly didn’t see you there. Fancy a drink? Then you’re in luck, as you’re just in time for another #MasterofCocktails.

This week we’re going to make a ‘Widow’s Kiss’ recipe from the excellent PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan. If you haven’t got this tome in your library, I heartily suggest you amend that oversight. Look, I even gave you the Amazon link and everything. Get to it. Chop chop.

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Categories : Cocktails, Liqueurs
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Master of Cocktails – Spiced Pear Whiskey Sour

Master of Cocktails Spiced Pear Whiskey Sour

Right then ladies and gents. Trust everyone’s recovered sufficiently after NYE? Time for this week’s #MasterofCocktails. This week we’re making a super-delicious Whiskey-Sour Variant recipe, which I have simply dubbed the Spiced Pear Whiskey Sour. We’ll be using the St. George Spiced Pear Liqueur for this one. It really is god’s own stuff, made using Pear Brandy, Pear Juice, and spices. Top, top marks St George Spirits.

I’m pairing (pearing? Sorry. Sorry) it with Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon for its perfume. I think this works well with the spice.

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Categories : Cocktails, Liqueurs, Whisky
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