Maker: Heaven Hill, Bardstown, Kentucky, USA
Distilled at Christian Brothers, Parlier, California, USA
Style: American (100% by law), Bottled in Bond grape brandy.
Age: 4 y/o
Purchased for $25.
Appearance: Dark copper.
Nose: Vanilla ice cream, alcohol.
Palate: Full bodied. Vanilla chews, caramel, burn.
Finish: Oxidized “dusty bourbon”, pure vanilla extract, anise candy.
Mixed: Good in an Old Fashioned, and with Coke. Very good with Benedictine. Would probably be very good in eggnogg.
Parting words: The Christian Brothers (La Salle, not to be confused with the Irish Christian Brothers, of Brother Rice fame) is a Roman Catholic educational organization, made up of lay men. A group of them established a community in Northern California in 1882, and decided to make table and sacramental wine as a way to raise funds for their schools. In 1940, they branched out into brandy, eventually becoming one of the leading American brandy producers. In 1986 the wine and brandy business was sold to a forerunner of Diageo and in 1989 the table wine part of the business was ended. In 1999 the brandy business was sold to Heaven Hill, and they’ve continued to produce, bottle, and market it ever since.
Unlike bourbon and straight rye, brandy can contain additives without disclosing them on the label, and this brandy clearly has them. There is no way that this is a natural color for a brandy of this age, and its sweetness and prominent vanilla flavors and aromas are most likely down to additives as well. Still, there’s a solid, fruity backbone to the whole thing that the high proof helps bring out.
As a mixing brandy, Sacred Bond performs very well. It’s even not too bad as a sipper, although I would reach for a commercial VSOP Cognac as a “weeknight” sipper over this. Still, I like to judge spirits based and what they are, not what they’re not, so I can’t judge this very harshly. It’s not trying to be fine French brandy, it’s trying to be an upgrade to the standard CB VS for mixing purposes. It succeeds at that, so I’m going to give it a recommendation. If you’re fond of brandy cocktails, give Sacred Bond a try.