Brandy is a fascinating genre of booze because it acts as an umbrella for so many different things. You hear about it all the time, but you’re not really sure if it’s something that can be enjoyed outside of your friend’s Greek wedding or your grandmother’s after-dinner turndown. In reality, brandy is a super complex—and exceptionally accommodating—variation of fruit-based liquor that includes cognac, pisco, armagnac, grappa, and an assortment of others. You’re interested, but you don’t know where to start. Well, lucky for you, you have Cool Material. From mild to wild, here’s our list of 10 very different brandies that won’t disappoint your palate. When you’ve had your fill of scotch, rye whiskey, and gin, turn here. This is your brandy bucket list.


1858 Croizet Cuvee Leonie

The 1858 Cognac Croizet Cuvee Leonie is far and away the best cognac on the face of the Earth. Bottled in 1858, just a year or two before the Great French Wine Blight that forever changed French wines (and cognacs), this bottle is thought to be the most perfect example of quality French cognac (a type of brandy) ever made—EVER. It’s by far the toughest to come across on this list.


Pere Magloire 20 Year Old Calvados

Calvados is some of the most interesting booze you’ll have, as it’s made from apples usually sourced from Normandy. Pere Magloire is the premiere Calvados manufacturer, and their product is known the world over for its smoothness. It’s essentially made by distilling dried cider into an eau de vie of sorts, and then aging it oak casks until it’s ready to be bottled.


Remy Martin Black Pearl Louis XIII

Louis XIII is one of the most well sought cognacs in the world because the process that goes into making it is both excruciating and ensures some of the best quality cognac of all time. The Black Pearl edition is Remy Martin’s 140-year anniversary bottle, made from eau de vie from the Heriard Dubreuil family’s personal private cellars. Only 786 bottles were made, and price estimates vary anywhere from $14k to upwards of $30k.


Courvoisier L’Essence De Courvoisier

When it comes to quality cognacs, Courvoisier is never without mention. L’Essence De Courvoisier is one of their premiere cognacs, incorporating a careful blend of early 20th century reserves with later ones to create one of the finest cognacs available for commercial purchase.


Le Diciotto Lune Stravecchia Grappa

Grappa is another strange brandy, and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Distilled from pomace—the skins, pulps, seeds, and stems leftover from Italian grapes after the wine-making process—Grappa is generally un-aged and near colorless. It’s also super, super strong, and generally clocks in anywhere from 120- to 140-proof.


ORO Pisco Italia Mosto Verde

Pisco is a lot like Grappa, except primarily distilled from young Chilean or Peruvian grapes–not pomace. Because of that slight difference, it’s generally less than 100 proof, but still packs a hell of a punch. Just don’t confuse Peruvian pisco with Chilean pisco—them’s might be fightin’ words in the wrong country.


Cedar Ridge Apple Brandy

Not to be left out of the brandy discussion, there are plenty of American brands to look out for that offer wonderful quality brandy that’s both affordable and unique. Cedar Ridge is Iowa’s first micro-distiller, and their apple brandy is twice-distilled in a European-designed pot still, which helps it keep its sweeter notes of apple, cinnamon, and spice—a perfect way to warm up on those cold autumn nights.


Clear Creak Pear in the Bottle Brandy

A lot of brandies out there are made from grapes, but that’s not a technical qualification. In fact, one of our favorite types of brandy is that of the pear variety. This pear-in-the-bottle brandy from the folks at Clear Creak (another American camp) is absolutely wonderful. A little on the stronger side and lightly aged, it’s an excellent foray into other, less fruity, non-grapey brandies.


Grand Marnier

If you’re looking for something less harsh than a pisco or grappa, Grand Marnier is a popular orange-flavored liqueur that isn’t particularly sweet, but is made from a carefully concocted blend of brandy, sugar, and distilled orange bitters. Usually served neat and as an after-dinner digestif, we love Grand Marnier no matter what time of day it is.



If you’re Greek, you know—and probably enjoy—Metaxa. Much like Grand Marnier, it is a brandy-based liqueur. Unlike Grand Marnier, it is made using a distinct mix of brandy, a variety of dry white wines, some muscat wine from the Aegean Islands, and finished off with Mediterranean floral extracts and herbs. There’s nothing else like it.

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Unzip your coat and have some mulled wine on the house—you’ve arrived at your final gifting destination: The Holiday Gift Guide. It’s like your friendly neighborhood one-stop holiday shop, except instead of balsa wood ornaments, ours is packed with thoughtful gifts for everyone on your list. Future heirlooms, small-but-significant stocking stuffers, and gear for getting out there (or staying in)—are all right here. There’s no music playing in the background though, so you’ll just have to hum Bing Crosby while you click around instead.

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