B.C.’s craft distillers breathe new life into an old spirit
Over the last few decades, brandy has developed a branding problem. Not the Brandy who rose to fame with hits like The Boy is Mine in the late 1990s; rather, the once-venerable tipple that today is often seen as old fashioned, dull and enjoyed exclusively by the elderly.
Perhaps you’ve had it before in your grandma’s flamed Christmas pudding, drunk an occasional Sidecar at a hip cocktail spot or heard a reference to it in a Drake or Megan Thee Stallion song.
But outside of Cognac—a sub-category of brandy that has been embraced and promoted by the rap community—brandy has not been an intuitive or even conscious choice for most Gen Xers, millennials or Gen Zers.
Despite its waning popularity, there seems to be a trend emerging in British Columbia that just might clutch brandy out of the doldrums and back en vogue. Whether coincidental or created through circumstance, a number of B.C. wineries, cideries and distilleries have recently released their own small-batch, terroir-driven brandies—and they’re good, really good.
Originating from New Orleans, the original Sazerac used Cognac as the base ingredient (it was later replaced with rye whisky). Apple brandy provides a smoother, more fruity base for this locally inspired iteration.
Celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 by buying or drinking a woman-made spirit, such as these global brands that have women master blenders, distillers and more.
Though countless women contribute to the vibrant local, national and international distilling industry, for International Women’s Day each year we give a nod to some of the trailblazers in top production, management and ownership positions at distilleries.
For a fresh perspective on the hidden history of women in spirits and cocktail, we highly recommend the recently released book Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol by Mallory O’Meara.
Cellar master Cécile Roudaut introduces a brandy that balances quality with versatility
Cécile Roudaut loves her job. “Every day I learn new things and this brings me happiness,” says the master blender for St-Rémy. “I have the opportunity every day to taste very high-quality products. Each day I make something different. My role is to perpetuate tradition, but also to innovate.”
Roudaut was in Vancouver recently to launch St-Rémy Signature, the exciting new blended brandy she has created for Rémy-Cointreau. “I asked for a project: ‘Can I have a budget to buy some casks?’” she says. Of course, they said yes. “And the results were very pleasant.”
The classic—and sessionable—red wine punch from Bodega on Main
• 1 lemon • 1 orange • 1/2 apple • Handful blackberries • 1 bottle (750 mL) Spanish red wine • 1.5 oz Triple Sec or Grand Marnier • 1.5 oz brandy • 2 oz lemonade • 2 oz orange juice • 6 to 8 oz soda water or 7Up