Here’s an Italian brandy. I have very little experience of Italian brandy—the few I’ve had have been grappas and I can’t say I’ve been the biggest fan of those. This, however, as far as I know, is an Italian brandy in the style of cognac, made by a producer in northern Italy. That is to say, distilled in a pot still and aged in Limousin oak. The grape I believe is Trebbiano, which is the same as the French Ugni Blanc commonly used for cognac. This particular release, a single cask, was a K&L exclusive in 2016. I think it went for $100. I don’t remember it from that time but $100 would have been a very good price in theory for a 20+ yo spirit even in 2016. Then again, K&L has a track record of bringing in great sounding deals which end up being great deals for the age but not so great in terms of what’s in the bottle. Was this another one of those or will I regret not having purchased a bottle of this when I could have? Let’s see.
Villa Zarri 24, 1991 (59.7%; Italian brandy; from a bottle split)
Nose: A rich nose, somewhere between cognac and a sherry cask malt. There’s orange peel, some apricot, some plantains, some nail polish remover. Some dusty oak as well and some earthy notes. Sweeter as it sits with cherry and other red fruit. Gets stickier as it sits with some toffee and some light maple syrup. Water pushes the sticky stuff back and brings out more spice to go with the citrus (cinnamon mostly); brighter and more perfumed now.
Palate: Comes in sweet with a big dose of oak—not tannic. Here it’s far more cognac-like and I have to say it’s not reminiscent of a very rich cognac. Quite drinkable at full strength but the texture feels a bit thin. More citrus with time and it works quite well with the oak. Okay, let’s see what water brings out. It emphasizes the citrus and improves the texture; more spice here too now.
Finish: Long. The oak gets spicier here and the fruit doesn’t continue into the finish.
Comments: Neat, this a little too sweet and simple for my liking. Water brings out more nuance and better balance and improves it quite a bit on the whole. I don’t know enough about brandy to be able to tell any major differences between this and cognac; but it’s not quite as fruity as the cognacs I really enjoy. This one may be one for the bourbon and armagnac drinkers.
Rating: 86 points.