Brandy as a liquor has not gained much popularity in the Indian liquor market, partly because of non-availability of enough options in the market. Looking at this opportunity, Lucas Bols – the Dutch liquor giant, launched its brandy into the Indian market earlier this year. Recognizing that South India is a huge market, Bols chose Bangalore to be the first city to taste this spirit. Here is my review.

Brandy has been around for quite a long time, but we push our arms around it only when we are nursing a bad cold or a sore throat. It is yet to be perceived in the larger spectrum of drinking community across India as a regular drink and not just for its medicinal value. Amongst other reasons like no great branding as such for this 12th century spirit, we can hardly ignore the scarcity of good brandy in the market as a logical reason. We only have entry level Brandy`s around Rs.300 or premium range Cognacs at Rs.1500 to 1800 price points.

Enter Bols Brandy. Priced at Rs 525 for a 750 ml bottle, it’s quite a relief for people in Karnataka looking for some change from Mansion House. This is a good mid market price range between base brandy’s and premium Cognacs. Do not confuse your wits between Brandy and Cognac. Both are essentially the same, made with grapes, but Cognac comes only from the Cognac region in France, but brandy can come from any winemaking region of the world.

The base for brandy traditionally is wine or you could very well say fermented grapes. Bols ferments genuine grapes into wine and then distills it in pot stills to produce its brandy. The golden brown glow of the drink is very close to caramel colour. It is much smoother in taste as well. This is because of the three-year aging that Bols does to its distilled spirit in matured oak casks. The fruity aroma and sweeter tones to the spirit come from the other fruits that go in at the fermenting stage. Piet van Leijenhorst, the master distiller from the House of Bols, Amsterdam is said to have made the recipe and personally supervises the production of the brandy.

Bols Brandy contains 42% alcohol by volume. Though fashionable as an after dinner drink, it also makes a great aperitif. Lot of people in India prefer their Brandy with something tangy like a Limca. Bols with tonic water is a great combination too. My personal suggestion is to try 60 ml of Bols with equal parts of Tonic water and Ginger ale with lot of ice and a few mint springs. If you are a classic cocktails sucker, try the Sidecars with Bols Brandy. Shake 45 ml of Bols, 15 ml limejuice and 15 ml sugar syrup on ice and serve straight up in a Martini glass. Great for a hot afternoon.

This brandy has not done major promotional work as yet. Mostly soft launches and soft promotions. They are at the stage of promoting the spirit itself right now by educating customers at various drinking establishments about a good genuine brandy. Eventually they intend to do image building though signature cocktails and other ways.

This brandy into India is courtesy a Joint Venture between Lucas Bols and Kyndal India Pvt ltd, a spirits importer and distributer Company based in Delhi. This venture bottles bulk brandy imported from the Amsterdam at their Konigal Distillery in Karnataka. In this sense it is almost an imported product available at domestic prices. Yet another bottling unit will start churning out more brandy from Tamil Nadu soon. In addition to distribution and marketing of these brands is also done by this joint venture. Lucas Bols will lend its expertise of blending, distilling and their 400 years of heritage in the brandy business and Kyndal will head the marketing exercise to ensure Bols Brandy is a success in India.

Back to the Dashboard!!

Bad Blogger, that`s what I have been. Two months and no posts. But hasn`t this happened to most bloggers before??? No, not about any writer`s block, but just too busy to open your dashboard and spill some sensible black and white beans. Neverthless, most of my regular readers would understand why I have been out of sorts with alcohol for this while. I have been regularly writing at although missing one week`s story would hardly be called irregular. He He!!

Anyways, now that I am back I hope to write more often.Although, there is loads that I have missed telling the world about:

1) Some good liquers friends brought from Goa (Chochlate, cherry brandy, coffee)

2) Addition of Russian Standard Vodka to my cabinet

3) Visit to my favourite drinking couple in Hyd and their fabulous collection of alcohol and barware

4) Bars I visited recently in northern India

5) My first cocktail book - ultra latest edition of DiffordsGuide #8 imported straight from United Kigdom, thanks to a dear patron at Take 5.

Well those are some stories I am too lazy to write about now. But a fabulous alcohol filled month is ahead of me. For starters I am reviewing Bols Brandy for myBangalore. I am meeting Lokesh, founder of Madhuloka, Bangalore`s biggest liquor boutique and might also chat up with fabulous bartender from London Academy of Bartenders - Valentine, who is in town training folks at Taj Vivanta.

That besides, I am going to very seriously rack my mixology skills this week to come up with an orginal brandy cocktail to be submitted for an International bartending competition called Shaking Twenties. Only one guy will be selected from each of the 6 continents. I do not know if I stand a chance, but doesn`t harm to give it a shot!! So wish me good luck on that.

More bartending, for I am also doing a bash for an expat from New Zealand for his wife`s 40th birthday party at end of this month. Designing menu for that sinful night right now. Some action packed month this one!!

Now, if I may be excused, it`s about time I open my pint of beer ! Oh yes, I have been drinking a lot of beer. Blame it on increasingly hot Bangalore. I am sure Beer companies are pro-Global Warming!!!

About Shank

Shank is a cocktail enthusiast & a self-proclaimed mixologist. He likes to experiment with spirits. He has traveled around a bit visiting hundreds of bars and tasting the buzziest of alcohols, cocktails and shooters.

Shank spent early years of his dizziness in Mumbai. He has lived in Hyderabad for long and for the past few years is chilling his glass in Bangalore.

He is currently busy spreading his love for spirits through this blog - Cocktail Nirvana.

This blog is part of his ongoing quest for fine spirits, creative cocktails and classic mixology. These online journals will capture his cocktail inventions, adventures with alcohol, trips to bars, meeting with ace mixologists, lessons in the art of drinking and much more.

This apart, ignoring good judgment, the fine folks at also allow him to take up valuable space on their portal with his words & pictures.

Away from Nirvana