This week, I was actually planning on getting Vita Frute’s other flavor, the lemonade flavor, but instead, I opted for E&J’s Apple Brandy with Apple Liqueur. If you’ve remembered my article on Gran Legacy’s Brandy XO, you might recall that I’m not a brandy connoisseur or even a regular brandy drinker. In fact, my first and only experience of brandy so far has been with Gran Legacy and it wasn’t a very pleasant experience. I hope to dear God that the taste of brandy from the other brands wouldn’t be as bad as Gran Legacy’s version of brandy. Thankfully, E&J is one of those brands that dispelled that god awful taste of brandy from Gran Legacy.
If I recall correctly, E&J is a subsidiary of E&J Gallo, if they aren’t one and the same. As far as I care to know, E&J and E&J Gallo are the same company. And for those who aren’t aware, they are the same company that makes those giant jugs of wine for cheap (as in under $10 per jug) that you often times see at supermarkets but under a different brand name. I haven’t personally tried those giant jugs of wine but E&J Gallo apparently owns a number of brands that, at first, you would think that each of those independent brands are independent of each other but in reality, they are all produced from the same company. It’s just that they make products for different segments of the market.
Moving on. While I realize that this Apple Brandy with Apple Liqueur isn’t straight up brandy, but instead, brandy mixed with apple liqueur, I have to say, E&J definitely upheld their promise on their labeling. On the bottle itself, it reads “Extra Smooth” and “Rare Blend.” I must say that it is, indeed, very smooth for brandy. Again, I’m basing this experience off of my rather terrible experience with Gran Legacy so I might be giving this bottle more credit than it actually deserves but so far as I care to know, it fulfills its promise for being “extra smooth.” When you first crack open the bottle, the first strong whiff that you’ll get from this bottle is the pleasant fragrance of apple–as in candy apple. If you’ve ever had a taste of Jolly Rancher’s green apple hard candy, it smells a lot like that. So far as taste is concerned though? I tried it neat. I tried it with ice. And I tried it with ice and club soda. When it’s all by itself, it tastes kind of like warm apple juice with a bit of a harshness undertone. That harshness, all things considered, isn’t all that bad but it’s definitely there, if you’re paying attention to it. Otherwise, if you take a swig without swishing it around in your mouth and allowing the flavors to reach all over your palate, it’s really not that bad. However, if you do spray it across your mouth upon sipping it, you will feel a sort of harshness from the tip of your tongue, initially, and then feel another harshness “under the tongue” after you’ve swallowed, I suppose one can say? It’s hard to describe because the harshness doesn’t linger. You’ll feel it on the first sip and within the same millisecond, it goes away. Then when you swallow, the harshness re-appears briefly again, before it disappears yet again.
The good news is that there’s no burn when the brandy hits your tongue but there is that familiar warm sensation once it goes down the gullet. The alcohol smell and taste is perfectly masked by the apple liqueur. You can’t even notice it unless you focus intensely on the smell and taste of it. The mouth feel isn’t syrupy at all. It’s quite smooth. It’s as if there wasn’t any kind of liqueur added. However, if you add soda water/club soda with brandy, the harshness becomes a bit more apparent on the first sip and when you swallow. But like drinking it neat, that harshness doesn’t linger. It goes away just as quickly as if you were drinking it neat. Nevertheless, that harshness is definitely much more apparent when you mix it with club soda. When you add ice and pour the apple brandy over ice and let it chill for a few seconds by swishing it around in your cup, that harshness is definitely masked pretty well, at least on your first sip. When it goes down the gullet though, for whatever reason, that harshness comes back with a vengeance, if only briefly, and lingers for a little bit before going away. And then when you let the ice sit with the apple brandy for a bit, (as in letting it melt a bit), the harshness goes away almost completely. The drink itself really mellows out, if you let the ice chill the brandy a bit and allow it to melt a bit as well, thus adding a bit of water in the process. Despite that though, there is a minor hint of harshness after it has gone down the gullet. It’s barely noticeable but it’s there, if you’re really paying attention to it.
Just for your reference, when I drank it neat, I poured about a shot into a double shot glass. When I drank it with ice, I simply added a few ice cubes (4-5 cubes) into the same double shot glass, poured about 1.5 oz worth of apple brandy and sampled it accordingly. And then when I was sampling it with club soda and brandy without, I poured about 1.5 oz of apple brandy to about 0.5 oz of soda water. (Frankly, I just eyeballed it. I’m not really measuring anything here but the proportions are roughly more of the brandy relative to the club soda or ice content that I added to the shot glass). I did the same when I added ice and subsequently added brandy with club soda immediately after.
I believe the regular price for this bottle of apple brandy was $12.99 for a standard 750 ml bottle. Apparently, they had a plastic bottle variety as well as the ordinary glass variety. In this case, I bought the glass version, as opposed to the plastic bottle version–for purity sake. Based on past research, the glass version is always better than the plastic bottle version because plastic is permeable (as in, it allows air and whatever that comes with it to “go through” the bottle and add “flavor” to it, even when it wasn’t intended. Glass bottles, on the other hand, isn’t permeable, and hence, supposedly, it maintains its purity from production, to aging, to finish.)
At its sale price, $7.99, I would definitely buy this bottle of Apple Brandy with Apple Liqueur again. It’s rated at 60 proof, which is 30% ABV (alcohol by volume). Not bad. Not bad at all. I’d like to mention, on top of that, that when you pour this brandy over ice, then add soda water, that if you chug this, without allowing the drink to touch your palate much, it can serve as a pretty decent of bottle for getting a buzz quickly without any nasty flavor that you might get from, say, taking shots of cheap vodka or whiskey or tequila. It’s really rather pleasant over all. When you chug it as if you’re taking shots of liquor, it’s like taking shots of anything bad except it’s not bad and it tastes faintly like Jolly Rancher green apple candy. Dare I say, if this bottle was sold at regular price of $12.99 at CVS, I would definitely buy this over Smirnoff’s Green Apple flavored Vodka, hands down–even if Smirnoff’s Green Apple flavored vodka is cheaper by a couple of bucks, retail price. And Smirnoff’s Green Apple flavored vodka is generally around $10 retail price. For $3 more, and going with E&J’s Apple Brandy with Apple Liqueur, you can can eliminate the harshness and burn that you will inevitably experience with Smirnoff’s vodka, flavored or otherwise. To me, I think that’s worth it.
It bears noting, if only briefly, that E&J also had the Peach brandy with Peach Liqueur for sale at the same price as well as their plain ol’ regular brandy at the same price as well. Between the three, I chose the apple version because I like apple more than I like peach or plain ol’ brandy. Nevertheless, I will definitely get around to trying the peach version and plain version at some later time. So stay tuned.