Germain-Robin, founded by happenstance by Ansley Coale and Hubert Germain-Robin in 1982 (that story is wild), represents the epicenter of high-end American brandymaking, and even within its relatively new ownership as part of the Gallo empire, Germain-Robin continues to set the bar for how domestic brandy ought to be made. This 7 year old bottling is the company’s entry-level expression, which is saying something considering it carries a $70 selling price. The brandy is a blend, but showcases primarily California-grown colombard grapes. It is distilled in Pruhlo Charentais pot stills, then aged in Limousin French oak barrels for 7 years.
The brandy’s not earth-shattering, but it’s really a delight that can stand up against many a Cognac bottling — at least on the younger side. The nose is refreshing and full of fruit, a pungent raisin character infused with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, apple butter, and a mild but omnipresent lumberyard note. Floral notes are present but well-dried, with a slick of honey to offer some sweetness. All the same inform the palate, which is sweet but far from cloying, allowing notes of white flowers and grape must to emerge. Vanilla is prominent, then more toasty oak, with apples, green banana, and some apricot all showcased. The wood fades into the background on the finish, which features a raisiny cinnamon toast quality, a slight banana liqueur quality, and notes of jasmine wood. Well-rounded and easy to drink solo, mix into a sidecar, or experiment with liberally in lieu of whiskey.
A- / $70 / germain-robin.com
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