Raynal 5 Year Old French Brandy

2 ratings (2 Epinions reviews)
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Better than I Remember: Raynal V.S.O.P. Napoleon French Brandy

Nov 19, 2001 (Updated Nov 20, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Relatively inexpensive, available in wide distribution, a good brandy for mixed drinks.

Cons:Very few complaints. Maybe a little heavy in Orange flavor.

The Bottom Line: A good beginner brandy. I was pleasantly surprised by this brandy. It was much better than I expected. Very reasonably priced.

I first tried Raynal Brandy during in the mid-1980's. At the time, I was a young drinker -- having just reached legal drinking age -- and was eager to try different kinds of brandies and Cognacs since they were, at the time, my favorite distilled spirits.

Brandy is a grape based spirit that is distilled from a thin, acidic wine. The wine itself is awful tasting; but when it is boiled and distilled, and given a few years of aging in oak casks, the end product is spectacular. The term brandy is derived from the German word Gebranntwein, which means "burnt wine."

Raynal V.S.O.P. Brandy
This is a classic French brandy (not a Cognac or Armagnac, since it is produced and bottled in Southwest France. Raynal is a product of the French conglomerate LVMH ("the world's leading luxury products group," which includes such brand names as Louis Vuitton, Moët, and Hennessy -- LVMH -- as well as other big name brands as Givenchy, Fendi, Sephora, Christian Lacroix, Dom Pérignon, Ebel, Hine, Parfums Christian Dior, Veuve Clicquot, and many others.)

Raynal produces about one million cases of brandy per year, of which about 20% of its production is exported to the U.S.A. This is a pot-still made brandy that is aged in oak.

Alcohol Content: 80 proof (40% alcohol by volume).

Color: deep caramel/copper color. Almost too deep for a 5-year old Very Special Old Pale. (I don't know if caramel coloring is added, but I suspect that this is so.)

Flavor: Sweet, even a little honeyed. Some plum and heavy fruit flavor, and a definite hint of Oranges and dates. Silky texture. Surprisingly balanced for such a relatively inexpensive brandy. Not as oily at mid-palate as I remember this brand from years ago; actually kind of creamy at mid-palate.

Finish: long, warm finish. Not as hot or as rough as I expected. Actually, quite pleasing. Definite orange peel taste.

Price and Availability
This brandy normal retails for about $12 per 750 ml bottle. Beverages and More (www.bevmo.com) is currently featuring this brandy at a discount price of $9.99 (for "Club Bev" card holders). I purchased a 200 ml bottle at my local liquor store for $4.

Imported by Shaw Ross International Importers of Miami, Florida.

I was pleasantly surprised by this brandy. It was much better than I expected. At a retail price around $12 per bottle, this is one brandy that I would recommend for holiday entertaining. It stands well on its own, served straight in a brandy snifter (a "ballooned" liquor glass), and would work wonderfully with a medium-to-full bodied cigar like a Padron No. 3000 (natural). Do not heat over a flame. Serve at room temperature and allow the brandy to heat up through warming contact made by holding the bowl of the snifter in your hand.

Would be a fine brandy to use in mixed drinks. Works great mixed with Coca-Cola®, for example.

Verdict: Better than I remember it being. 3˝-stars... bumped to 4-stars due to its excellent price-vs.-flavor performance.

Recommend this product? Yes

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