Guide to Australian Brandy

The Australian home grown spirits market has seen a renaissance in recent times, bringing with it a swathe of new distilleries producing fashionable products like Australian single malt whisky and gin.

Whilst Australian distillers might be producing some award winning and globally renowned products in these categories, Australian distilleries, namely St Agnes and Black Bottle, have been quietly producing premium brandies since the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Australian Brandy Production Process

Both distilleries follow a double distillation pot still process to make their brandies, similar to the method followed by Cognac producers in France, and age their spirits in French and American oak casks.

Whilst they might not have as big of a name as their French counterparts, St Agnes and Black Bottle produce a range of aged brandy products, all of which have seen a minimum of two years in an oak barrel.

Generally speaking, however, if you’re looking for fruitier styles of brandy that can be used in a range of cocktails or enjoyed on their own, Australian brandy is the right place for you.

St Agnes Brandy

As mentioned previously, St Agnes is one of Australia's most prolific brandy distilleries, having been in the brandy business since the early 20th Century.

Situated in South Australia, the distillery sources its fine grapes from The Angove Family vineyard and produces six bottles of various aged brandies, including a V.S., aged at least two years, a V.S.O.P., aged at least four years, and an X.O., aged at least six years.

Their younger brandies, such as the St Agnes V.S. and St Agnes V.S.O.P., are known for their fruiter flavour profiles, which makes them perfect for a number of brandy based cocktails, including the sidecar and the Brandy Alexander.

Their three bottles of X.O. brandy, however, are aged for at least fifteen years, with the oldest reaching a minimum of 40 years in age, making them examples of super premium Australian brandies that easily rival the complexity and character of the best Cognacs from France.

When consuming these, it is best to serve them neat and as an aperitif before a meal or as a digestif at the conclusion of one, to appreciate the incredible depth of flavour present in the bottles.

Black Bottle Brandy

With a history stretching back to the 19th Century and beginning with famed Australian wine producer Thomas Hardy, Back Bottle has been producing premium Australian brandy for more than a Century.

Their standard bottle of Classic Brandy, aged for at least two years, has won numerous awards since it began circulating in 1950, culminating most recently in silver awards at the International Wine & Spirits Competition awards in both 2015 and 2016.

The distillery itself is situated near Renmark in South Australia, where, in addition to their standard Classic Brandy, they also produce bottles of V.S.O.P./V.S.A.B., aged at least four years, and X.O., aged at least six years.

Similar in taste to other young Australian brandies, their Classic Brandy is overwhelmingly fruity in its character, with greater complexity and depth of character developing as you move towards the premium and more well aged end of their range.

As such, it is recommended that you use their younger Classic Brandy in popular brandy based cocktails, such as the sidecar or brandy smash, and reserve the more premium X.O. brandy for consumption neat and as an aperitif or digestif at the conclusion or the start of a meal.

Taste of Australian Brandy

As mentioned above, Australian brandies have a tendency towards being more fruit forward than other grape based brandies from other parts of the world, such as Cognac and Armagnac.

For further elaboration on this point, this article helps to explain how Australian brandy differs slightly to other types of brandy made around the world.

Flavour Characteristics of Australian Brandy

This strong fruit character is certainly more apparent in the younger bottles of aged brandy but fades further to the rear once the spirit has been aged for more than four years.

At the extreme end of the age spectrum, with bottles of St Agnes X.O. Grand Reserve 40 Year Old containing brandies with a minimum age of at least 40 years, the flavour tends to deepen significantly to include strong notes of christmas cake, dates, dark chocolate, and dried apricots, among others.

Pairing Food with Australian Brandy

Pairing Food with Australian Brandy

Due to the fruitier notes present in many Australian brandies, particularly younger ones, they can be paired wonderfully well with many rich fruit based desserts or platters of dried fruits and nuts.

When looking to match more well aged examples of Australian brandy, which often contain far more mellowed and deeper flavours of oak and sweet spice, it is recommended to consume them alongside roast meats, such as duck or venison, or alongside rich desserts, including chocolate mousse or christmas cake.

There's a bottle of Australian brandy out there for everyone. Here are some of the brands and bottles that we recommend you look out for the next time you're browsing online or in-store.

St Agnes VS Brandy Tasting Notes
Sweet & raisiny in aroma, this brandy is perfect for use in cocktails or for those after a crisp-finishing brandy.

St Agnes

VS Australian Brandy
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