Brandy and Ice – to Ice or Not to Ice…

Its a question that comes up quite often, and as always there are numerous responses. So I thought I would write a quick post on my views of brandy on ice vs brandy drunk neat in a snifter.

Brandy and Ice – is it ok?

Brandy and Ice, why not?

For the purists out there, the amount of time, effort and skill that goes into producing fine brandy, makes it almost unthinkable to add anything to it when drinking. But I am a firm believer in drinking brandy the way you enjoy it, and that there is no set rule that applies to how you may like it.

What’s  important to remember in this debate, is that in South Africa, we produce three styles of brandy – some of which are made specifically to be drunk with a mixer. Those are the blended brandies, mostly 43% alcohol, and personally the type that I wouldn’t sip neat or with ice. The extra alcohol from the large amount of column still distillate is just to overpowering for me when drunk this way.

Vintage Brandy and Ice – the best of friends?

Vintage brandies however are another story. One of my favourite brandies with ice, is undoubtedly Van Ryn’s 10 year old. A single cube of ice in a snifter for each single measure of brandy added. Let it cool down and sip slowly. It is difficult to match. Similarly, Oude Molen 100 reserve, KWV 10 year old, go superbly in a snifter with some ice.

Potstill brandy and ice – it can still work.

On the potstill side, there are a few brandies that I will also drink with ice, but they are generally the younger ones. Flight of the Fish Eagle is a great brandy to drink on the rocks, though can be equally as enjoyable neat, at 38% alcohol. Joseph Barry Muscat (3 yo) and 5 year old are also perfect over ice, so are the likes of Oude Molen Solera.

When it gets to the older brandies, anything over the 12 year mark, I guess I become a bit of a purist at heart. It’s very seldom that I drink a more matured aged brandy any way but neat in a snifter. It just seems that the amount of time spent in oak, the care and craft that has gone into it and and the skill in making that final blend, warrants the respect to imbibe it as it is.

And what an experience that can be….



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