...where distraction is the main attraction.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Randy Brandy drinks Eight Brandies. Thank you, Florin?

Krav has made some terrible decisions in his life, as any of his loved ones will attest to, but this, THIS, is his greatest idea, ever. I, one Randy Brandy, am going to drink eight brandy samples — right now — that were sent to Diving for Perks by some person named "Florin" who must pity Krav because he keeps sending him stuff.

I am so inspired that I will write too many words, in the spirit of this very blog. And I will take the pictures myself.

I will march these brandies in sets of two, like the animals on Noah's ark. Yes, that is a biblical reference. Going to church on Sundays is like brushing my teeth: automatic.

Germain-Robin XO and St. George Distillery Reserve, two apple brandies from the Socialist State of Northern California. So, they're half American, if I'm being generous.

Germain-Robin XO Apple Brandy, 40.2%abv
Nose - Bourbon. Vanilla and anise, some apple, clean laundry, a faint waft of eau-de-vie. But mostly bourbon.
Palate - Thin, but pleasant. Barrel char and McDonald's apple pie. Caramel, pepper, mint. Gets more bitter with time. Know anyone like that?
Finish - Caramel chews, barrel char, candy canes and bourbon. Bitter, tart and sweet.

St. George Distillery Reserve Apple Brandy, 43%abv
Nose - There's some vanilla and tree sap, but there's also lots of classic Calvados. Caramel apples and baked apples. It's grassy and cheesy and yeasty, so there's some fun in there.
Palate - Eau-de-vie right in the face. Think kirsch and sliv. Hints of malt, smoke and mint. Tingly, but never too sweet.
Finish - Tart apples, eau-de-vie. A little bit of pepper and smoke.

The Germain-Robin is apple brandy for bourbon drinkers. Do bourbon drinkers even come to this site? Well, if you do, and spending $70 is nothing for you, then you'll like this more than I like this. The St. George is more my style. It has some Weird in the nose and plenty of big eau in the palate.

Germain-Robin XO - C+
St. George Reserve - B/B+

Burgas 63 Special Selection Bulgarian Rakia and Etter Zuger Swiss Kirsch are some actual European brandies. Kirsch is made from Kirsch fruit (or "cherries" to the freaks), while rakia is made from whatever is lying around in Eastern Europe, like apricots or communists.

Burgas 63 Rakia, 40%abv
Nose - Clean as a whistle. Flowers, yeast, citrons and limes.
Palate - Just like the nose, but with more flowers. Then quinine and lemon zest.
Finish - Tart and floral. Refreshing. I could drink a bottle.

Etter Zuger Kirsch, 40%abv
Nose - Earth, clay, cinnamon and nutmeg. Yeast, lemons and very tart cherries. A little bit of moonshine.
Palate - Mint and cinnamon. Juicy Fruit gum. Oilier and heavier than Clear Creek's kirsch.
Finish - More floral than the palate. Warm and spicy.

You'll have to pardon my short notes on the rakia, but KRAV DRANK THE FIRST OUNCE before handing it over in a tiny bottle. Then he tells me to lighten up on the Jewish jokes. C'mon, you take my brandy and then you take my bread and butter?

Both of these brandies are good. But I'm going to buy four cases of the rakia and then bathe in it. It's like someone distilled Spring.

Burgas 63 Rakia - B+
Etter Zuger Kirsch - B-

Distilleria Nannoni Grappa di Brunello Bianca and Marolo Grappa di Brunello di Montalcino are two grappas made from the brunello grape as you can clearly read from their names. I could tell you that Brunello is Sangiovese, but then some Tuscan would yell at me.

Distilleria Nannoni Grappa di Brunello, 40%abv
Nose - Crisp, simple grappa. No paint thinner, but maybe some glue fumes. Yeast, grass, balloon rubber, prunes, stems and seeds (of grapes, you damned hippies).
Palate - Prunes, grapefruit, grass, ocean water and that glue note.
Finish - More or less the same as the palate, but tangier and grassier. Long length.

Marolo Grappa di Brunello, 42%abv
Nose - Green apples, serrano peppers, horseradish, metal, arugula. This smells like good trouble.
Palate - Delicious poison. Unripe pears and apples with dried cilantro. Rhubarb, pine, smoke and a creamy sweetness.
Finish - Pine, rhubarb, dried herbs and a great sweetness. Long and mouth-filling. Who snickered?

Due bestie belle. That's Italiano. Neither of these grappas is for the coy. The Nannoni will fight you a bit, and win with its finishing strike. The Marolo is the busiest grappa I've had. I am fond of it.

Nannoni Grappa di Brunello - B-
Marolo Grappa di Brunello - B+

Back to America, sort of (again), with the Osocalis Distillery in near Santa Cruz, CA. Florin sent Osocalis Rare Alembic Brandy and batch 2 of Osocalis XO Alembic Brandy. Their Charentais still really is from France, and the grapes are from California. Birds of a feather, etc.

Osocalis Rare, 40%abv
Nose - Apples, cloves, caramel and orange peel. Something like dessert wine, sometimes.
Palate - Comfortable. Lightly sweet. Tangy apples and limes. Some peppery youth still at large.
Finish - Fruity, peppery, never too sweet, never too taxing.

Osocalis XO, bottling #2, 40%abv
Nose - Old Speyside malt with baked apples. Toffee, plums, lemons and a hint of leather.
Palate - Take the nose, then add pumpkin pie spice, tart fruit and good heat.
Finish - A combination of baking spice and mulling spice, which are probably the same thing sold to us twice. Apples, mint, long.

While the Rare is fine, the XO is Fine. A brandy for single malt drinkers. A brandy for brandy drinkers. The fruit spice combination, which is just waking up in the Rare, strides through the XO and leaves you smelling like a rich drunk.

Osocalis Rare - B-
Osocalis XO, bottling #2 - B+

Me. As always.


  1. Great reviews Randy/MIchael!
    And here are my notes on these brandies. Looking back, I would probably grade St. George a little higher and Sesta di Sopra a little lower. All in the 3.5*+ range I would/will/did buy again.
    * Germain-Robin XO Apple Brandy 40.2%: Curious red color (they admit they add color on youtube videos). Fruity nose, with red fruits, acidic, sweet. A little sweet on the palate, acidic, some spice - apple seeds? Thin body. The GR family signature is there, very smooth, Cognac-like, thin, a little winey, some sweetness. I'm not impressed enough to buy it again. 2.9*/5
    * St. George Reserve Apple Brandy 43%: Delicious, with that ineffable St. George flavor - cocoa/cardamom/spice. Not too far from their single malt! 3.7*/5
    * Burgas 63 Special Selection Rakia (Grape Brandy), Bulgaria 40%: Very good rakia, clean, nice legs on the glass. Very aromatic: muscat, traminer, and rose water. The aftertaste is good, with a slight metallic tinge. This is the Speyburn 10yo of brandy! (Translation: punches way above the weight category, great value, would always like to have a bottle open.) 3.5*/5
    * Etter Zuger Kirsch/Cherry Eau-de-vie, Switzerland 40%: Very good eau-de-vie, deep red cherry flavors. However, not something I really appreciate. I just wanted to double-check that, and it still holds. 3.1*/5
    * Sesta di Sopra Grappa di Brunello Bianca (Distilleria Nannoni) for K&L 42%: Great grappa, just as good as the Sesta di Sopra Riserva, deep flavors associated with the red Brunello wines. Elegance and balance, fragrant, clean. 3.8*/5
    * Marolo Grappa from Sangiovese da Brunello di Montalcino 42%: Very fragrant, with great depth. 3.6*/5
    * Osocalis Rare Alambic Brandy 40%: The best American brandy I had. Bright fruit, appetizing, grapey nose, clean. Dry & clean taste, no trace of additives. Dark, forest floor notes, almost smokey. 3.6*/5
    * Osocalis XO Alambic Brandy 40%: Good brandy, rewards attention. Sophisticated nose, cleaner and fruitier than most Cognacs. Pure flavors. Long finish. 3.7*/5

    1. Who's Michael? And I was told I misspelled Borgias. Blame my editor.

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