Brandy is back: Three small-batch stars to try

Fill your balloon with one of the new, small-batch Aussie brandies.
Fill your balloon with one of the new, small-batch Aussie brandies. Photo: iStock

Brandy is the drink we need right now: a fortifying hug of fruit and spice made for cupping in a comforting bowl-shaped glass by the fire. If you haven't fallen for cognac or armagnac​ or even a fine aged expression from our venerable Australian houses, St Agnes and Black Bottle, you should fill your balloon with one of the new small-batch Aussie brandies. They've shed the spirit's tux and bling baggage for intimate, soulful and super-local expressions of what makes a brandy truly great: fruit and craft.

They're the reason for new Melbourne fruit-based distillery Saint Felix, where former Vue de Monde chef turned master distiller Xavier Nalty is on a mission to make brandy sexy again in an urban food truck park setting, drawing on Mornington Peninsula's vineyards and orchards. In south-east Queensland, former winemaker Jason Hannay ferments, distils and ages local shiraz grapes in barrels made by local coopers to make a brandy embodying its birthplace.

Sip these three, and warm your soul.

Saint Felix Cherry & Cacao Husk brandy

$85, 700ml, 43 per cent ABV

A Black Forest gateau in a glass; black cherries and double distilled cacao husk grape spirit aged in Barossa shiraz oak casks. Xavier Nalty's time honing his craft in Europe's brandy regions shows in the velvety finesse of his excellent first brandy.

Imbibis Shiraz Brandy Cask 2

$148.99, 700ml, 42.5 per cent ABV

Jason Hannay's first Single Cask Shiraz Brandy won silver at the Australian Distilled Spirits Awards, and he prefers his second. Complex and powerful, with dark fruit, vanilla bean, caramel and marzipan, warm shiraz spice and a lovely long finish that just doesn't quit.


Adelaide Hills Distillery Apple Brandy

$140, 700ml, 46.2 per cent ABV

The second release of the debut brandy from winemaker-turned-distiller Sacha La Forgia uses three apple varieties from the cellar door orchards, fermented by neighbouring Hills Cider Co, and aged in cabernet franc barrels. Juicy and lipsmacking, with just enough wood spice and a warm apple pie finish.