12 December 2008

LCBO French Brandy

As any resident of Ontario knows, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (or LCBO) oversees all liquor sales within the province. Recently, the LCBO has gone through a kind of renaissance in that in order to counter cries that liquor sales should be privitized. It has started stocking many fine spirits found worldwide to provide much better selection to the discerning alcoholic. However, the subject of this review is a throwback to the days when the LCBO could care less about good taste, and sold whatever crap it could to turn a profit. Products like LCBO-bottled "French" Brandy are excellent examples of this.

It is unknown where this brandy originated. Back when the LCBO bottled its own imports (presumably after buying them bulk from their country of origin), these "no-name" liquors were usually the cheapest buys in the liquor store. It has since abandoned this practice, which serves as testament to how old this bottle really is (I personally have had it in my collection for 10 or so years). There is no identifying characteristics about this hooch save the name. And while such fine labels are a good indication of how light they are on the pocketbook, they are hardly an endorsement of good taste.

Approximately 10 years ago, I worked in security at a point in my life where I was basically living the slacker lifestyle. As anyone who has worked in this field can testify, it is boring and otherwise poorly paying employment. A friend of mine had told me that her parents were taking a trip to China for three weeks in late December and as I was "experienced" in security, she asked me to watch over her parent's house while they were gone. In return for said duties, she promised me a bottle of liquor as payment. This turn of events was responsible for my coming into possession of the subject of my review tonight.

The girl in question threw a New Year's Party at her parent's house in which we drank like silly fools as only 20-somethings do. The next morning she once again reiterated her thanks for making sure her parent's house wasn't robbed and told me she would give me one of her father's bottles as payment. She opened his well-stocked liquor cabinet, bypassed the Scotch and other high-end liquors, and presented me with this bottle of LCBO French Brandy.

As she handed me the bottle, I muttered my thanks and wondered what the hell you do with brandy. My only experience with this particular liquor was watching old cartoons where the St. Bernard dog carried a flask of it on its collar to give wary travellers who had inadvertantly been buried under an avalanche. I took the bottle home, and decided that a taste test would be my best guide. I recall pouring a shot, downing it, and nearly puking as a result. I have never tasted rat poison, but somehow knew this was very similar. After all, no-name LCBO brand liquor was not known for its quality and the rest of the bottle has sat behind the bar ever since. Now, 10 years later, I believe it is time to find out if time has taken the edge off this hideous low-end hooch.

I poured a shot into a glass neat to fully appreciate (or despise) its full flavour. The smell is something akin to grain alcohol with a bit of white wine mixed in for flavour - not a good sign at all. However, I feel it is my duty to sacrifice myself in the name of good taste and drank the shot down. Strangely, it seems that age had indeed mellowed its otherwise excruciating flavour. It is mellow with a fruity base around the edges. Going down, it is not exactly smooth, but it is still better than Hiram Walker Special Old. However, the after-burn it leaves on the palate is not good at all, and is reminiscent of cheap street hooch. The burn sits on the tongue and is reminds me of such cheap crap as Five Star and 7 Crown. Time cannot gold-plate a turd after all, and while better than it was 10 years ago it still sits well below the line of decent booze. Perhaps I'll take it out again after another 10 years and see if improves after 20, although something tells me it will simply be a big glass of the same misery. Caveat emptor.

1 comment:

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