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by Robert Giles


Winter has arrived and a great way to end the day is by sitting by the fireplace with friends and loved ones. While your first thought would be to reach for a nice, full bodied red wine, I suggest something a little different: cognac or brandy. These warming drinks are the perfect thing for colder temperatures and here are three of my favorites.

Pierre Ferrand Ambre

Pierre Ferrand goes against the grain and doesn’t use the typical classifications of VS, VSOP, and XO. They are, however, producing high quality cognacs that express the best of the region. Their Ambre is a 10-year-old cognac that presents a lively pairing of apricot, pear, and orange with hints of savory spices and oak from French oak aging. Finishing with a light bittersweet almond note, this cognac is sure to have you savoring every sip.

Cardenal Mendoza Brandy

The cousin of cognac, brandy, is another wonderful winter sipper and this one from Spain is a fantastic example of what’s available in the category. Greeting you with aromas of cinnamon, clove and orange peel, the nose calls to mind baked pastries and spiced teas. On the palate, notes of roasted coffee beans, dried figs, caramel, vanilla, and dried orange peel will carry you from sip to sip as the conversations roll through the night.

Martell Blue Swift

Martell has been producing fantastic and well-priced cognacs for almost 300 years. Blue Swift is a VSOP cognac that’s finished in bourbon barrels; it combines the rich dried fruit flavors of cognac with the caramel and vanilla of a bourbon barrel. The palate expands with notes of vanilla, caramelized pears and hints of banana and toasted oak. A great warming cognac that stays light and delicious.

The perfect complement to a good cognac is a good, rich cigar. Two fantastic selections that we have are My Father Flor de Las Antillas and CAO Italia Ciao. The Flor de Las Antillas is a medium bodied cigar with notes of nutmeg and white pepper. The Itallia Ciao will be a fuller bodied cigar that has a light sweetness with notes of chocolate and cherry.


As the winter chill reaches its peak, these winter sippers are an ideal way to relax and unwind. A warm fire, good company, and a good cognac and brandy will nicely finish any long cold day. Give these drinks a try the next time you’re looking for a relaxing evening at home.