Huber Starlight Distillery Private Reserve Brandy

Maker: Starlight Distillery, Borden, Indiana, USA (Huber’s Orchard & Winery)wpid-20151029_104412.jpg

Age: NAS

ABV: 40%

Price: $60 (website)

Note: My wife and I received a complimentary tasting and tour and a 10% discount at time of purchase.

Appearance: Medium copper with thick, sticky legs.

Nose: Alcohol, oak, golden raisins, toffee, pinch of clove.

Palate: Full bodied and medium dry. Dried figs, alcohol, vanilla, salted caramel, custard.

Finish: Back to raisins and oak. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Not at all. Fades a little too quickly though.

Parting words: Starlight Distillery has been making brandy since 2001 and selling it since 2004. They sell two (grape) brandies, actually. There is the Private Reserve, and the cheaper Starlight Distillery Brandy which they didn’t let me taste.

Master distiller Lisa Wicker: “You don’t want that one, it’s only distilled once.”

Me: “That’s OK. Armagnac is too, right?”

Lisa: [laughs and pours me the reserve]

Having been in the business for so long (by micro distiller standards) means they have the reserves to make a consistently good product and that they do. I emailed Lisa about what sort of cooperage and grapes they use for this product, but I have had no reply as of press time. That’s OK, though. Lisa & Tim are two of the good guys and both very busy individuals.

I hosted a bourbon writer in my house recently and he picked this bottle out of my liquor cabinet as we were sitting down to an after dinner chat and sip. He was very impressed. Since we were on the topic of brandy, I asked him about a brandy micro-distillery that near him in Kentucky that had been getting a lot of press lately. “Their stuff is good,” he said, “but not as good as this.”

So there you have it. This is a very good American brandy at a decent price, one that more than holds its own with brandies big and small. Huber Starlight Distillery Private Reserve Brandy is recommended.

Heritage HSR, 2010

Maker: Huber, Starlight, Indiana, USA.wpid-2015-10-20-18.40.58.jpg.jpeg

Grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot.

Place of origin: Indiana, USA.

ABV: 13.9%

Price: $40 (website)

Note: My wife and I received a complimentary tasting and tour and a 10% discount at time of purchase.

Appearance: Dark ruby red.

Nose: Oak, blueberries, black cherries, dark chocolate.

Palate: Blackberry juice, old oak, raspberry, blueberry juice, serrano ham, smoke.

Finish: Chewy and oaky with a faint background of fruit.

Parting words: Huber (not to be confused with Austrian winemaker Markus Huber) is one of Indiana’s oldest and most well regarded wineries. The have a couple stills too and make a variety of spirits, including excellent brandies and a good gin I reviewed here. Their strength is in their red wines, although their Chardonel and Traminette wines are also good. They produce varietal Blaufränkisch (aka Lemberger), Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and in some years Tannat, among others. Their most expensive (and probably best) wines are their Meritage Heritage red blends. We were particularly impressed with the 2012 and this 2010. The wife liked this one better so we purchased it.

Heritage 2010 HSR a tasty, structured, well balanced wine that evokes the best in California blends of this type. We had it with a meal featuring NY strip steaks topped with wine cap mushrooms and it performed swimmingly. It’s drinking well now, obviously, but it will still be good in the next 5 or even 10 years if you’re feeling adventurous.

$40 is more than I like to pay for wine since it’s usually past the point of diminishing returns, but Huber’s Heritage 2010 HSR is close enough to being worth the money that I can recommend it.

The only thing I disliked about this wine was how the cork crumbled when I tried to open it. The cork forced me to strain the wine and then decant into another bottle. Get a new cork supplier, Ted.