We're just loading our login box for you, hang on!

Master of Malt Blog

Tag: Brandy

Cocktail of the Week: The Brandy Sour

This week we’re making a drink that appears simple but needs precision to pull off successfully, plus having a look at brandy’s rich cocktail history. When mixing drinks, most of…

This week we’re making a drink that appears simple but needs precision to pull off successfully, plus having a look at brandy’s rich cocktail history.

When mixing drinks, most of us reach for gin, rum or whisky, and forget about Cognac and Armagnac. Which is a shame because not only can these two brandies be great cocktail ingredients but in many cases, they were the original ingredient. The Sazerac, for example, according to Eric Felten in How’s Your Drink, gets its name from “a brand of Cognac popular in New Orleans in the 19th century”.

Brandy was also massive on the other side of Atlantic. But its premience among spirits was destroyed by phylloxera, the vine-eating louse that wrecked Europe’s vineyards. By the 1890s, there was panic in the gentleman’s clubs of Britain as they were running out of brandy. Blended Scotch was specifically designed to fill this gap. Whisky merchants borrowed from Cognac the technique of blending heavier and lighter spirits to create a consistent product. In America, cocktail lovers moved over to rye and bourbon where they have remained ever since.

Armagnac vineyards

The beautiful vineyards of Armagnac (credit: BNIA)

Nowadays, however, brandy is back on the cocktail menu. Amanda Garnham from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac (BNIA) told me that bartenders love Armagnac because “of its multifaceted nature and depth of flavour”. But, she also warned that it was important not to lose that complexity when making your drink. So keep it simple. To educate the hospitality industry, the BNIA has just taken on Hannah Lanfear, recently crowned Educator of the Year at the Imbibe Personality of the Year Awards. I asked her for some recommendations.

“Armagnac offers the bartender incredible complexity and depth, with a structured flavour profile that gives a wealth of possibility for flavour combinations,” she said. “A classic sour makes for a perfect showcase for the picture painted by the distiller.”

So I decided to take her advice. A sour requires just three ingredients: something boozy, something sweet and something sour (obviously). It’s part of a family of cocktails based on these principles that includes the Daiquiri. This very simplicity, however, means that there is no room for error. You have to get the ratio of booze, sour and sugar exactly right. You also must take care when shaking not to dilute it too much.

It is a supremely adaptable drink. You could add an egg white to give it a gorgeous silky texture (in which case it will need to be shaken for longer), or finish it off with a couple of drops of Angostura bitters. Add triple sec or Grand Marnier, and you have a Sidecar (5 parts brandy, 2 lemon juice, 2 triple sec). Hell, you don’t even have to use brandy: you could use pisco, gin, rum, amaretto, bourbon, or Metaxa (a Greek brandy flavoured with Muscat grape juice) though you may have to play around with the ratios. But today, we’re using Armagnac.

So, which one to use? Garnham recommends not using anything too old or delicate. On the other hand, you do want something that can take centre stage, so don’t use something that you’d put on your Christmas pudding. The perfect choice is Baron de Sigognac VSOP. Not only is it an excellent affordable Armagnac, but I’d say it is one of the best-value spirits on the market. With its tropical fruit and crème brûlée character, it’s as smooth as David Niven’s smoking jacket.

Sold? Right, let’s get mixing!

Armagnac sour BINA

Armagnac sour (credit: BNIA)

50ml Baron de Sigognac VSOP
15ml lemon juice
10ml sugar syrup
Glass: coupe or Nick & Nora
Garnish: lemon slice

Shake all the ingredients hard and quickly with lots of ice (you don’t want too much dilution). Double strain to remove any ice crystals into a coupe, and garnish with a slice of lemon (or you could use an orange twist or a maraschino cherry).

No Comments on Cocktail of the Week: The Brandy Sour

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…

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!

No Comments on Fantastic French Brandies

Copper & Kings: The American brandy revival

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…

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.

No Comments on Copper & Kings: The American brandy revival

Spotlight on… Armagnac!

Armagnac is a French brandy with a longer history than its famous cousin Cognac Single distilled in continuous alambic to lower abv for richer, more full-bodied spirit Bas-Armagnac area has…

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!

No Comments on Spotlight on… Armagnac!

World Whiskies Awards and World Drinks Awards Winners

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…

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.

No Comments on World Whiskies Awards and World Drinks Awards Winners

Around The World In 80 Drams – Week 12 – Van Ryn’s 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…

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!

No Comments on Around The World In 80 Drams – Week 12 – Van Ryn’s Distillery

Around The World In 80 Drams – Week 7 – 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,…

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).

No Comments on Around The World In 80 Drams – Week 7 – Courvoisier

Master of Cocktails – The-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…

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.

No Comments on Master of Cocktails – The-Candy-Apple-Jack-Hammer

Gascony Calling: A Single Cask Series Armagnac!

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…

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!

1 Comment on Gascony Calling: A Single Cask Series Armagnac!

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…

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.

No Comments on Master of Cocktails – The Widow’s Kiss

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search