Claret is the liquor for boys, port for men; but he who aspires to be a hero must drink brandy.
As cold weather descends upon Vienna, what can be more luxurious than to finish off a fine dinner with the warming comfort of a fine brandy – the water of life (eau de vie) that has soothed the sated stomachs of Europeans for centuries. Superior brandy needn’t come with a luxury price tag. Sure, for a mere €218,000 you could buy the only remaining bottle of vintage 1805 Cognac Massougnes. However, you need not look farther away than our own fair city, to find outstanding quality Weinbrand and fruit brandies at quite reasonable prices.
Brandy is distilled from fermented wine or mash of grapes or other fruits. As early as the 15th century, the distilled substance (brandewijn, Dutch for “burned wine”) was often used to fortify fresh wine – as it was with Port, Marsala, Madeira, Sherry or Vermouth – to preserve it during long sea voyages. As techniques were perfected, such as aging in oak barrels, brandy came into its own. French Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados; Italian Grappa and Stravecchio; and Andalusian Brandy de Jerez dominated the Western European market, while brandies from the Black Sea region often bested their Western counterparts in international competition.
The Viennese distiller Aco Nijemcevic has brought his family’s southeast European brandy-making tradition up to modern standards, creating award-winning brandies in small, artisinal batches. The family business, Invivo Spirits, ferments and distills only the best ingredients – such as the bitter gentian root cultivated and harvested in the Serbian highland by Aco’s uncle Vaske.
Williams Christ pears that are ripened only under specific climatic conditions, or Willamette raspberries grown above 1,000 meters and picked by hand – are made into brandies aged in casks made from the renowned oak of the Limousin forest.
The result is a masterful, yet fleeting triumph of nature: though a closed bottle will last many years when stored properly,
an opened bottle is best consumed within a few months, as air, light and heat will quickly start to change the brandy’s flavor and consistency. This is why Nijemcevic’s brandies are sold in a range of bottle shapes and volumes, so a connoisseur can choose the perfect size. Nijemcevic’s customers don’t complain – except when their bottles run empty!
Invivo Spirits’ brandies can be tasted (by appointment only) at its cellar in Vienna’s 18th district, or can be purchased online (invivospirits.com) and shipped domestically and internationally.
18., Finkenweg 3
+43 681 10 20 20 17