Brandy has a much more wide-ranging definition than most distilled drinks. Essentially, you take some sort of fruit, you ferment it, distill it, and boom – brandy. Anything from the Cognac quaffed by Kim Jong Il to the early colonial apple brandies sipped on by George Washington adheres to this same basic formula. Grapes are the classic and standard for making “brandy,” and anything else is generally considered a “fruit brandy.”
Today I’m sampling Bertoux Brandy. I first heard of this brand while reading Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails, whose author Shannon Mustipher is a big advocate for the brand. Bertoux is a distillery out of California, whose soul product seems to be the namesake Bertoux Brandy. It’s bottled at 40% ABV, and is a blend of pot still brandies aged 3 to 7 years. If you go to the Bertoux website, you’ll see they push this pretty hard as a mixer.
The Bertoux has a classic grapey brandy nose (you’re welcome), which also has hints of lemon and clove. On its own, it goes down pretty smooth, with a candied grape (raisin?) like flavor at the front followed by hints of wood on the tail. It’s not especially complex, but provides a solid and tasty brandy experience.
This brandy is intended for cocktails, a role which it fills well, although it’s also just fine on its own. Bertoux works very well in a Sidecar or a holiday egg nog, and would be a good option for any cocktail that calls for a brandy. I’d definitely recommend this one over other American brandies I’ve had in the same price range, and I think it would be a good player in place of more expensive Cognacs for mixing as well.