Kill Your Liver Now: E & J Brandy

Nov 21, 2001

The Bottom Line E & J Gallo produces some great products... and a number of really bad, entry level products. Let price be your guideline.

Ernest & Julio Gallo (E&J Gallo) of Modesto, California, is the world's largest winery. E&J Gallo produces a wide range of wines, sparkling wines, and distilled grape products (e.g., Brandy).

Some sample name brands in E & J's portfolio of products: Bartles & Jaymes, André Champagne, Tott's Champagne, Ballatore Spumante, Boone's Farm, Hornsby's Pub Draft Cider, Gallo of Sonoma, Turning Leaf Wines, Indigo Hills Wines, Ecco Domani, Bella Sera, Gossamer Bay, Wild Vines, Livingston Cellars, Carlo Rossi, Peter Vella (boxed wines)... and there are more.

Yep. Gallo of Modesto, California, is HUGE.

I write here, specifically, to discuss a particular distilled product marketed by E&J Gallo: E & J "Original, Extra Smooth" Brandy.

E & J Brandy
E&J Gallo produces a range of brandy products that are marketed internationally. Its entry-level brandy, E & J Brandy, usually retails for about $7 per 750 ml bottle. It also produces some higher grade brandies, including a Very Special Old Pale (V.S.O.P., 5+ year aged) brandy, an Extra Old brandy ("E&J Vintage"), and a very old brandy ("E&J Brandy Patriarch" - 20 Year Old).

The brandy I tried last night was the entry-level E&J Brandy. This, sadly, is America's best selling brandy.

Alcohol: 80 Proof (40% alcohol by volume)

Color: Dark copper.

Aroma: Sweet nose, like Belgian candy sugar, surprisingly mild aroma. Very inviting smell.

Flavor: Bites like a bugger. Makes you wince. This first thing this brandy does when it hits your palate is that it digs-in and attacks your sensitive mucous membranes with a pungent, hot, and oily mouth attack. Finishes with a hint of cashew nut and a sharp, strong, flower-petal flavor smack. A unique flavor profile that would be interesting and even appreciated if this brandy didn't burn so much initially.

Price and Availability
A recent survey of prices at Beverages and More (

E & J Brandy
   $6.99 - 750 ml bottle
   $9.99 - 1 liter bottle
   $12.99 - 1.75 liter bottle

E & J Very Special Old Pale
   $1.99 - 50 ml, VSOP
   $7.99 - 750 ml bottle
   $11.99 - 1 liter bottle
   $17.99 - 1.75 liter

E & J Very Extra Old
   $23.99 - 1 liter, E&J Vintage Brandy

E & J Very Old
   $49.99 - 750 ml bottle, E & J Brandy Patriarch 20 Year Old

I purchased a couple of 50 ml mini-bottles at a local liquor store at about $1.50 each. Let's just say that I knew ahead of time what kind of tasting experience I could expect.

Compare in price to Christian Brothers Brandy ($7.99) or Korbel Brandy ($9.99). Personally, I prefer the smoother, sweeter Christian Brothers Brandy (which I do actually buy) over the E & J Brandy. For a few dollars more, I definitely would buy the French Raynal Brandy.

E&J Brandy is fine to serve in mixed drinks at parties. (If you are a price-conscience host, you may consider adding a bottle to your bar for cocktails and coffee drinks.)

But, truthfully, the E&J Gallo V.S. brandy is the worst brandy I have ever tried.

    I will not buy it again.

I have seen some retailers who market this brandy as a "cocktail mixer" or even a "marinade to use on grilled chicken."

Do NOT think that you can drink this brandy in front of the fire from a large snifter. You will torture yourself and your liver.

Verdict: 1-star. Avoid it.

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Member: Tom Carr
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