“Back in the USSR!” or Sidecar for Soviet Veterans.

The theme of this MxMo is Brandy. Of course I have some bottle of brandy in my bar! But… What about I may post? About Pisco – muscat grape brandy from Chile? No… About Calvados – well aged apple brandy from France? Or about Palinka – plum brandy from Hungary? No, I think no.

Actually I was born and live some time in country which had own history of brandy. Some famous persons such Nikolaj Shustov and David Saradjishvili is well known in the world. Science based production of grape wine spirit brandy called as konijak (pronounced like cognac :) was started on two half of XIX century in Tbilisi, Georgia by David Saradjishvili and Yerevan, Armenia and Odessa, Ukraine by Nikolaj Shustov both. In USSR time Soviet brandy widely exported in many countries and won many international contests. One of great story about Soviet Brandy concerned with Yalta Conference 1945. During this Conference Stalin offered Georgian konijak Eniseli a tasting to the unsurpassed expert and judge of alcoholic beverages, Prime Minister of Great Britain of the time, Sir Winston Churchill, who put Georgian brandy amongst the finest he had ever tasted – even French Cognac! Some people say that it was Armenian brandy, but I think Georgian.

By taste all cognac-style brandy of ex-USSR may consider on three types:

the first group includes very aromatic, high extractive brandy with vanilla undertones, for example, Armenian brandy (Armenijak);

the second group is characterized by low extractive, fresh, light flavor and taste with floral undertones – Georgian brandy;

the third group include harmonious, not so extractive as first group brandy, but so extractive brandy, which produced in Ukraine and Moldova.

Undoubtedly, well aged and authentic Armenian, Georgian or Ukrainian brandy can put to cognac-drinker very interesting experience and, of course, a lot of pleasure.

I have some bottle of this kind of brandy in my home bar:

Some bottle with Soviet Brandy (Бутылки с коньяком)

in photo from left to right:

ArArAt 5***** – by the Yerevan Brandy Company (Pernod Ricard Group), Armenia – great Armenian brandy with golden amber color. It has rich aroma with undertones of fruit, oak, vanilla and cinnamon. The taste of Ararat so extractive, rich with hints of caramel, plum and pear and tart finish with acidic aftertaste. As for me a great note in flavor has unique “penicillin-like” smell…

SARADJISHVILI 5 y.o. – by the Tbilisi Brandy Factory, JSC David Saradjishvili and Eniseli, Georgia – one of my favorite brandy. It has pale-straw color, sophisticated bouquet, and light, very pleasant taste with clearly expressed brandy tones. In cocktail with brandy I use it common.

VARTSIKHE 7 y.o. – by the Tbilisi Brandy Factory, JSC David Saradjishvili and Eniseli, Georgia too. It has a pale golden color, light and considerably developed bouquet with fruit tones and is fresh and harmonious on the palate. As for me the little sweet aftertaste of this brandy is more pleasant from all my brandies.

KOKTEBEL 11 y.o. – by the JSC Plant of vintage wine and brandy Koktebel, Ukraine. It has dark amber color, rich, extractive, oily taste and floral with hint of vanilla flavor.

All of this brandy has so different flavor and taste and, of course, may work different in cocktails.

I use pure classic thing – Side Car as tasting cocktail. I never made this cocktail and never taste it :) That why I try proportions from one of book by Salvatore Calabrese i.e. 3:2:2. I hope Salvatore not was mistaken :)

The Sidecar Cocktail (Коктейль Сайдкар)


30 ml cognac-like brandy
20 ml Cointreau
20 ml fresh lemon juice
Shake. Cocktail glass with sugar rim.

Some my impression:

Common: Undoubtedly perfect cocktail. Strong, no so sweet with bright brandy taste. This thing for real man!

Sidecar with ArArAt 5* – rich taste and very bright and pleasant brandy taste;

Sidecar with VARTSIKHE 7 y.o. – comparatively to ArArAt brandy taste so week and so … defective. Looks like the cointreau and lemon tastes more intensive that brandy.

Sidecar with KOKTEBEL 11 y.o. – rich taste, but little bitter for me.

Resume: High extractive brandy, like Armenian brandy, work well in my Sidecar. In next time I think wotrh to try a real cognac.

5 Replies to ““Back in the USSR!” or Sidecar for Soviet Veterans.”

  1. I like the charm of your ex-USSR brandies! Just one advantage established products do have: consistency!

    If I am buying an Armenian XO, it could be good, or it could be quite disgusting, depending which producer I’ve chosen…

    However that doesn’t happen to you, if you are buying a original cognac…

    One more thing: it would be better, if they would find their own original names (and not imitating the pronunciation of known Western products)!

  2. Yes. Only authentic products of few plants are worthy to purchase. I described brandy, which made on historical plants. And this is, of course, authentic product.

    The phenomenon of this soviet brandy (but more correctly may be russian, may be not) which called as konijak is in his history. The founders of Tbilisi Plant and Yerevan Plant was pure enthusiast of french cognac and enthusiast of his land. They created this product like cognac in meaning GREAT alcohol. But in this brandy present no folk tradition. This brandy created as “copy” of cognac.

    1. это те в которых много, так сказать, “бочки”. Причем это скорее танинность, дубильность, “деревянность” чем ваниль и вообще вторичные ароматы. Вот как-то так, наверное 8)

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