It’s the most decadent time of the year. Christmas is upon us, and with it comes more opulent, rich food than you can shake a cranberry sauce-smothered turkey drumstick at. But arguably the most crucial culinary part of Christmas is the firing of the Christmas pudding.
In most households, it’s a tradition; a ceremony. We douse the dessert in the best brandy we can get our hands on and light it up as the flaming festive centrepiece of the dinner table.
But get the wrong bottle and you risk putting out your own Christmas spirit. So, to avoid any soggy puds and questionable flavours, we’ve bottled up the six best brandies money can buy. Tis the season, after all…
For a full flavour: ABK6 Single Estate Cognac
One of the most important parts of flaming a pudding is heating the spirit. Get your brandy in a long-handled metal ladle and heat it over a gas flame until hot. Of course, this means you need a spirit that can stand up to this searing punishment.
With aromas of spiced wood, brioche cake and cinnamon, this bottle from ABK6 not only fits that bill, but also ticks the Christmas box with confidence. Finishing with fruity notes, once you’re done with the pudding this will make a great French Manhattan cocktail.
ABK6 Single Estate Cognac
For the best of both worlds: Vallein-Tercinier XO 46° Small Batch Cognac
Sometimes, creating the best brandy takes a blend. As with whisky, some may turn their noses up at blends, but there’s something charmingly honest about this un-chillfiltered, naturally-coloured Cognac from Vallein-Tercinier.
A blend of 25-year-old and 15-year-old faux-de-vie, you get the best of both worlds on the palate. That means the fresh flavours of stone fruits, honey and citrus orange, but also the heavier, steeped aromas of rich stewed fruits and fiery ginger spice.
Vallein-Tercinier XO 46° Small Batch Cognac
For a fruity feel: Jean Fillioux Cask 75 Through The Grapevine
Christmas puddings are, predominantly, fruity. Sometimes even known as ‘plum pudding’, they are crammed with handful upon handful of currants, berries and dried fruits. And so, it’s only right that your brandy is equally fruity.
From La Maison Du Whisky, this fresh bottling of Jean Fillioux has loud tropical fruit on the nose, with an abundance of dark berries on the palate. Of course, there’s Christmas spice, too. From subtle clove to the stranger pine bark flavours, it’s a fruity riot — and seemingly made to be poured on your pudding.
Jean Fillioux Cask 75 Through The Grapevine
For sheer seasonal decadence: Martell XO Cognac
What list of best brandies would be complete without the winner of Best Brandy in the Gentleman’s Journal Drink Awards 2018? Martell’s XO Cognac is nothing short of a triumph; a masterpiece of blending that’s almost wasted by burning on your Christmas pudding.
But, then again, Christmas is a time for decadence, and there’s nothing like this rich brandy with impressive depth — and a surprisingly elegant, subtle texture — to douse your pudding in. So go on, treat yourself.
Martell XO Cognac
For an aristocratic aroma: Torres Miguel Torres Imperial Brandy
Not only is this one of the most storied bottles in the world of brandy, but it would also make a handsome centrepiece to any Christmas dinner table. Striking, bold and unique to the brand, the bottle shares these qualities with the flavour of the brandy itself.
A deep, warm aroma greets you with traces of dried fruit and nuts. Elegant hints of spice, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg create a round, intensely velvety feel on the palate and a lingering aftertaste typical of its noble origin.
Torres Miguel Torres Imperial Brandy
For a sumptuous flaming: Remy Martin XO Excellence
There are certain foods and drinks that are unapologetically rich. Christmas pudding is one, and brandy is another. Remy Martin’s XO Excellence steps things up another gear again, with ripe fig, candied orange and juicy prune aromas coming together in a bottle of unrivalled sumptuousness.
Texture, complexity and richness; this brandy has it all. And, our favourite thing about it is the delicate jasmine and iris top notes that somehow still come across despite the richness and depth of the heart flavours. Douse your pudding then pour yourself a double measure on the rocks — and thank us later.
Remy Martin XO Excellence