Oh Taste & See: Carvalho Ribeiro & Ferreira "Brandy 1920" Portuguese Brandy

Hit the brakes! This ain't no whiskey! If you're a frequent visitor to my blog you know that I rarely review spirits that aren't whiskey, but this is something I got not too long ago simply because I saw it and had never seen it before. It turned out to be some pretty darn good brandy so I thought it would be worth a review here.

Brandy 1920 is bottled by the Symington Family which also owns such famous Port wine brands as Graham's, Dow's, and Cockburn's. They obviously know what they're doing with Portuguese grapes, and I guess they quietly turn some of their wine into brandy and let it age for a good long time as evidenced by this rich & oaky example. The only real information I have on this is what's on the bottle - it claims to be fine & old and 80.4 proof, so we'll go with that and jump right into the tasting.

Color: Brandy 1920 is a beautiful dark, polished cherry-wood color. It's crystal clear, but quite thick-looking with gold highlights around the edge of the glass.

Nose: Brandy 1920 has an initial aroma of dusty oak and is just slightly boozy. It reminds me of an old dusty workshop with co-mingled smells of wood, earth, and varnish. There is a hint of red wine aroma, apple pie spices, and hot caramel syrup. Over time the boozy notes shift to a more pleasant orange zest essence.

Flavor: Brandy 1920 is thick and luxurious in texture. The flavors are mostly really dark, ripe fruits - grapes, blackberries, plums. It's also got a good amount of oak flavor with a nutty/caramel vibe coming and going. This really does have that unique "rancio" flavor of older spirits - bordering on funky but just fruity enough to be enjoyable. Like a really really ripe apple that wouldn't be good tomorrow but is nice today.

Finish: The finish is very smooth and pretty quick. The nutty flavors linger but the oak and fruit flavors clear out pretty quickly.

I don't have much experience with Portuguese brandies, but this one is nice. I paid under $20 for a 1-liter bottle, and at that price it can hold its own in terms of value against any Spanish brandies or cognacs that I've had recently. Another case of 'if you happen to see it - get it.'


DIck Garofalo said...

There's more in the field than whiskey:
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Dick Garofalo (galinc@comcast.net)