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brandy

  • Christmas 2020 Deliveries

    ChristmasFor Christmas deliveries to addresses in the UK please ensure your orders are with us by 10 am on Tuesday 22nd December 2020.

    Generally UK orders placed before 12 noon will be delivered the following working day but please be aware that although we are able to process orders within 1 working day, Parcelforce are not always able to meet their normal delivery times at present.

    Our deliveries to America are also taking longer than usual due to a shortage of flights so all orders to the rest of the world should be placed as soon as possible please.  More information can be found in our Terms and Conditions.

  • XO Brandy - What Does It Mean?

    XO BrandyXO brandy, XO cognac. XO armagnac. Why is the term XO used so often when few of us actually know what it means? Originally, XO stood for Extra Old. In terms of age, up until 2018, an XO cognac had to be at least 6 years old but this was also the required minimum age of Napoleon Cognac. So, after decades of promising change, the controlling body of cognac, the BNIC, agreed to make the minimum barrel age of an XO cognac 10 years old. This is important because cognacs do not mature once they have been taken from their oak casks and placed in glass. Armagnac also stepped into line and now age their XO brandies for a minimum of ten years.

    The problem with all this is that brandies, particularly cognacs, need to be in a barrel for much longer than ten years to reach optimum maturity, so an XO brandy is actually not very old. It should be noted that some of the smaller brandy houses keep their XO cognacs in the barrel for longer than the required minimum age in order to produce a more mellow, flavoursome product. More recently it has been recognised that a 10 year old cognac is not particularly old so another generic age statement has been introduced, it is called XXO. The minimum age for an XXO cognac (Extra Extra Old) is 14 years in an oak cask. Even this is not long enough for cognacs from the premier cru, Grande Champagne. They are the slowest of all brandies to mature and may take up to twice as long as cognacs from other crus, requiring 50 years or even more.

    The term XO is widely misunderstood and even at ten years old some brandies are only just drinkable. At Hermitage Cognacs, we do not sell generic XO brandies. We prefer to offer an age statement on each one to help customers understand how long their brandy has matured in the cask.

  • Brandy Bottles

    Glass containers and bottles are believed to have first been made around 1500 BC but serious use of containers made out of glass probably did not occur until around 100 BC. More practical applications for glass were established with the advent of glass blowing, probably around a thousand years later. Modern glass bottles are made in commercial moulds and most bottles that contain alcoholic beverages, including brandy bottles, are made of clear glass.

    That however has not always been the case. The traditional brandy bottle started life as a green or, as in the case of cognac, black glass container. The dark colour may have been chosen to hide any sediment that had been left in the bottom of the barrel.  Modern glass however is pure and bright which enhances the cognac in the bottle to the highest level. Today we use a wide range of such bottles, many of which are produced from recycled glass.  Although the quality of the glass used varies considerably, we choose to buy all our bottles from Saverglass who have a large depot in Cognac.

    Hermitage 1947The size of early hand blown bottles often depended on the quantity of glass the blower had on his pipe and so the quantity each bottle held was largely guess work.  It has now become tradition that the cognac bottle is an upright 70cl size but the volume only became metric in the mid-1950s. Before that, all spirits were measured in imperial measurements.  Strangely, European spirit bottles are now all 70cl whereas in the USA they opt for the slightly larger wine bottle size of 75cl.

    Today, there is a general consistency of bottle shapes havingBaron de Sainte-Fauste developed from region to region and beverage to beverage. For cognac the very basic upright bottle shape is known as the “Cognacaise”.  At Hermitage, we use the “Exception” bottle but also a range of carafes to which many customers are attracted. The traditional bottle shape for armagnac is the “Basquaise” which is round with flat sides and for calvados the longer necked “Normandy” bottle is still generally supplied in bottle green.

    Read more Technical Topics on our Brandy Education page.