Germain-Robin Single Barrel Muscat Brandy
Top 10 Spirits 2011
In the new millennium, Cognac is considered hip, now, and sells strongly as rappers have embraced the drink, and even created some of their own. But brandy is regarded a fuddy-duddy old-fashioned spirit, an anachronistic after-dinner beverage for old codgers to enjoy when they retire to the card room with cigars after dinner. News flash: all Cognacs are brandies! The word comes from brandwijn (or "burnt wine"), and is basically a concentrated wine which is distilled and barrel-aged. Brandy that comes from the Cognac region of France — which has ideal soils and climate for the spirit, as well as a special distillation process — is known as Cognac. So, not all brandies are Cognacs. This particular brandy is from Mendocino County, California, where Hubert Germain-Robin hand-distills high quality varietal wine grapes on a pot still from, of all places, Cognac. After aging, the proof is lowered to 88 by the addition of filtered rainwater. The rich, complex spirit is made from 100 per cent Muscat grapes from the 1999 harvest. There's plenty of orange peel which shows up pleasantly in the nose. The orange flavors continue on the palate, where the brandy plays oh-so-softly, and a delightfully clean, citrusy aftertaste. If Gin 'n' Juice is worth rapping about, then this deserves a symphony.