Brandy is Dandy
Brandy is having a bit of moment in California, and I keep seeing it pop up everywhere. I'm a long time Cognac fan, buy hadn't put much thought into domestic brandy. A couple months ago Bitters & Bottles, offered their email subscribers a great (and FREE) opportunity to sit down for a guided tasting with Jackson Miller, the brand ambassador for Argonaut Brandy.
At the tasting Jackson walked us through the four different versions of brandy Argonaut produces. Those are Saloon Strength, Speculator, Fat Thumb and The Claim. I was pretty surprised to find out this brand was from Gallo and even more surprised that it was the first release. Because of Gallo's relationships they were able to source their brandy from a wide diversity of grapes and distill and age them in different ways. This leads to some really unique expressions.
This was served as part of a cocktail. Saloon Strength is their on-premise workhorse. It can be found at several local bars including BIIG, Foreign Cinema and more. Though you can't buy this in stores, I encourage you to go out and try it in a cocktail at your local bar. Foreign Cinema even serves it neat. The wine used in this brandy is aged between 2 and 21 years and distilled using entirely Coffey stills. Grape varietals include Sultana, Chardonnay, French Colombard, and Muscat.
Speculator This is their entry level brandy. You can drink this neat, but I prefer it as a cocktail base. It had notes of floral cherries. It just won gold at the New York World Wine & Spirits Competition. The wine used in this brandy is aged between 3 and 19 years and distilled using both Coffey and alembic pot stills. Grape varietals include Chardonnay, French Colombard, Grenache, and Muscat.
Fat Thumb This is their mid-grade level brandy. Although you could use it for cocktails, I would drink it neat. It had notes of apple pie a la mode. The wine used in this brandy is aged between 2 and 16 years and distilled using both Coffey and alembic pot stills. Grape varietals include Grenache, French Colombard, and Muscat.
The Claim This is their top shelf brandy. It's truly stunning and only meant for sipping. It has rich floral and fruit notes. The wine used in this brandy is aged between 14 and 25 years, using entirely Coffey stills. Grape varietals include Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, French Colombard, and Zinfandel.
Want to try Argonaut brandy for yourself? Bitters & Bottles still has stock of the Fat Thumb. If you are local I'd recommend going in person to the store as they have EXCELLENT customer service. If not, they can ship anywhere in California and to a couple other states.