Preferably not more than $60 a bottle?
I think Martell VSOP is outstanding, and it’s usually right at $63-65 or so. The Martell VS is also very good and about ten bucks cheaper.
I think Hennessy and Remy Martin are both good but overhyped and therefore not amazing value for the buck.
(If you don’t absolutely have to have cognac (i.e. the protected location of origin stuff from that particular area of France), there are a TON of awesome brandies out there that are indistinguishable from cognac by taste and a much better value.)
Armagnac. Twice times the flavor for half the price.
I think I paid $30 for a bottle of Courvoisier recently. But it’s for eggnog.
This, a thousand times this. I just mail ordered two bottles of Armagnac that were exclusive to K&L Wines and I won’t be going back to cognac. $60ish got me into the 20 year old range.
Could you list a few of the better ones?
Spain makes good brandy, although it’s very different to Cognac. It tends to be very dark and slightly sweet. Cardinal Mendoza and Gran Capitan are good examples for $30 - $40.
I’ve really enjoyed pretty much every Armagnac I’ve tried, but several guys who are clearly better versed in Armagnac than I am have already chimed in, so I will defer to them.
I love Calvados, but the apple nose and taste instantly let you know it isn’t a grape brandy. Same for Laird’s Apple, which is made in the USA.
Honestly, snobs may turn up their noses, but the better brandies being made by the big American wineries right now are really very good and are fantastic value. Paul Masson VSOP and E&J VSOP and XO are two favorites. I always have a bottle of one of the E&Js in the cabinet as a mixer, sipper, and all-around staple. My wife likes me to make her Sidecars (1:1:1 brandy + Triple Sec + lemon juice).
We always have a big bottle of E&J brandy in the liquor cabinet in case of snakebite. Or blizzard. Or Tuesday.
Any Armagnac priced over $20/bottle is going to be decent. Any over $40 are going to be fantastic. Otherwise Pork Rind had some excellent suggestions above.
E&J XO is my go-to brandy. I’m not a big brandy drinker in general, but it works well for every mixed drink I’ve ever used it in, and it adds an interesting vanilla-ish flavor to a glass of Sprite.
Probably depends on what you’re planning to do with it.
I’m not much of a straight cognac or brandy drinker, but we do have a few drinks we enjoy that call for brandy/cognac as part of the recipe (Sidecar, variant French 75, eggnog), and for those kinds of things, I’ve had excellent results with the Claude Chatelier VS and VSOP cognacs. I think they’re like $20 per bottle or so (VS slightly less, VSOP slightly more). They also make an XO that runs around $40, but I don’t have any experience with it.
(apparently Chatelier is Pierre Ferrand’s value brand, FWIW).
I like Remy Martin 1738. It’s my go to cognac in the $50 range.
This Armenian brandy is, as far as I’m concerned, about as good as it gets when it comes to quality/price ratio. It runs about $20. Apparently, according to that website, Churchill was a fan of that type. Alas, I have to travel a fair distance now to get it. Probably a good thing for my liver…
I really haven’t had a bad brandy from that neck of the woods, though. Pliska is a similar one from Bulgaria, very nice. I once had a sublime mixed-fruit brandy from (I think) Montenegro, but I don’t remember what it was called. It was a golden brandy, not an eau-de-vie or slivo-type spirit.
Armagnacs are generally good, too, as others have said. A few years back, on our way to relatives’ for Xmas, we bought a case from our local shop of 1984 Chateau de Quelquechose ;); it had been inexplicably priced at like $15/bottle. I don’t know if they didn’t know what it was, or it had just been sitting in a corner for a decade. The bottles were kind of dusty. Anyway, I was happy to have some really nice hostess gifts, and the remainder didn’t last long at our house.
Amen. $80 on Armagnac is going to get you some truly fine stuff.
I’m also big on Ararat Armenian brandy where any of it is good and the 20 year is about $80 and is excellent.
Cognac, go with any in your price range if is has to be Cognac, it’s all good. Otherwise see above.
Christian Brothers VS (1.75L $20), and Christian Brothers XO (750ML $23) brandy. Same grapes and same distillation as cognac. Wonderful aroma when warmed.