Three star quality

The Institute of Consumer Expertise has tested the most popular brandy

The buyers has long been accustomed to the quality of hard alcoholic beverages produced in Ukraine. However, this thesis is completely valid only for vodka, and as regards cheap brandy, which are only a third more expensive than vodka on average, the people still have stereotypes. They say that Ukrainian brandies, particularly those from the low-end price segment, are made of conventional spirit following an impaired technology. However, the rate of production and sales of amber drink is constantly growing in Ukraine, and it is bottled by enterprises with a solid history and reputation. To understand the issue, the experts have sent for study six most popular brands of domestic ordinary brandies at least three years old.

About the "water of life" and age

The selection of cheap "three star" brandies in the market is quite extensive, so it is not possible to cover them all. Therefore, the major brands, namely Shustov, Shabo, Borisfen, Ai-Petri, Jean-Jacques and Greenwich went to the laboratory. The relevant Specification indicates that brandies should not contain dyes and fragrances, but they may be supplemented with specifically softened water (to reduce the hardness, since a 70-degree spirit is poured into barrel), sugar syrup (to soften the taste) and sugar color (to provide a noble amber colors). The labels of all samples clearly listed the ingredients, and no violation was found.

Further, the samples were exposed to a complex research of physical and chemical parameters to determine from which alcohol the tested drinks were made. The fact is that brandy, unlike vodka, should be produced exclusively from brandy spirit, which is distilled from dry white wines, with further aging in oak barrels. Besides, the classical technology must be fully observed, and deviations from it are fraught with serious deterioration of the beverage quality. The experts have conducted several studies to determine the mass concentration of higher alcohols, ethers, aldehydes and methanol. The result shows that all samples were manufactured of the "proper" raw materials, or, as the brandy spirit is called by the masters of their craft, the "water of life".

Another important factor for any amber beverage is its aging, i.e. the amount of time spent by brandy in barrels, gaining its flavor and taste. To determine whether the brandies indeed corresponds to their age, the volatile components were studied. The analysis showed that the tested brandies are truly three years old. Each of them has passed the aging test.

Let’s raise our glasses

The most interesting part of the study of alcoholic beverages is tasting, i.e. determination of organoleptic properties (taste and bouquet, color and transparency). The brandy was tasted by members of a professional tasting panel, as well as probands from among ordinary consumers. Here, the results were not as rosy. Half of the samples received a 'red card' from the tasters, namely very low scores for taste and bouquet. But first things first. Generally, brandy should have a soft harmonious taste, and transparent, amber-golden color. Bouquet can be flavored with vanilla, possibly light resinous hues or tones of ripe fruit. Shabo and Shustov have shown good results, 7.5 and 7.75 scores, respectively. Unfortunately, tasters have lowered the scores for three of six brandies. These three TMs had a pronounced alcohol-fusel aroma, sharp and burning taste. Consequently, the resulting scores were below the standard 7.4.

The leader was Borisfen brandy from Tavria House of Branded Brandies, which obtained 8 scores. "Folk" tasters rated the drinks higher, whereas regarding the leader their views coincided. The highest score again was obtained by Borisfen. The masters of brandy from Kakhovka are rightly esteemed by the customers. High production standards and strict adherence to recipes, coupled with their own vineyards, bear the fruit.

Aftertaste

Judging by the study findings, it can be assumed that even in the segment of the cheap brandy there is a kind of subdivision by "ordinary" and "elite", which is caused rather by the production technology and tradition, than the price. How else can one explain that the test winner, Borisfen brandy, was one of the cheapest? The price of the bottle produced by Tavria House of Branded Brandies is UAH 38.92 in retail, while its counterparts, which did not receive high marks, are 10-15% more expensive. Still, the main conclusion is that the affordable brandy drinks are genuine and safe. One should just buy them in legal stores and select manufacturers with a long track record.

Image Brand Name Manufacturer’s address Capacity (volume) Alcohol content Bottling date Shelf life Storage Specification
Shabo Brandy of Ukraine ordinary three stars "Shabo" PTK Shabo LLC 0.5 l 40%. 21.11.2013 2 years Imported and domestic brandy spirit, at least 3 years old, softened water, sugar syrup, sugar color DSTU 4700:2006
Ai-Petri Brandy of Ukraine ordinary three stars "Ai-Petri" Simferopol Wine and Brandy Factory LLC 0.5 l 40%. 25.12.2013 2 years Brandy spirits, at least 3 years old, softened water, sugar DSTU 4700:2006
Borisfen Brandy of Ukraine ordinary three stars "Borysfen" Tavria House of Branded Brandies PJSC 0.5 l 40%. 05.11.2013 2 years Brandy spirits, at least 3 years old, softened water, sugar syrup, sugar color DSTU 4700:2006
Shustov Brandy of Ukraine ordinary three stars "Shustov 3 stars" Odessa Brandy Factory JSC 0.5 l 40%. 04.10.2013 2 years Brandy spirits, at least 3 years old, prepared drinking water, sugar syrup, sugar color DSTU 4700:2006
Jean-Jacques Brandy of Ukraine ordinary three stars "Jean-Jacques Classic" Alef-Vinal-Krym LLC 0.5 l 40%. 11.09.2013 2 years Brandy spirits, at least 3 years old, softened drinking water, sugar syrup and color DSTU 4700:2006
Greenwich Brandy of Ukraine ordinary three stars "Greenwich" Galicia Distillery PJSC 0.5 l 40%. 09.09.2013 2 years Brandy alcohol aged in oak barrels for at least 3 years, softened water, sugar DSTU 4700:2006

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