Brandy isn’t something we cover often here at the Manual, but Louisville’s Copper and Kings is making a pretty good case. This week we’re reviewing 3 Marlenas, an apple brandy that is aged for five years, two of which is spent aging in tequila barrels.
Brandy, for those not familiar with the spirit, is made from fermented wine (in this case apple wine) and comes from the Dutch brandewijn, which translates to “burned wine.” Most brandies fall between 35 and 60 percent ABV. At 50 percent, 3 Marlenas may seem strong, but it falls comfortably within the bounds for brandy.
Nose: It smells exactly as you might expect from an apple product aged in barrels: fresh-pressed apple juice, honey, and a little bit of whiskey.
Palate: The apples are baked this time. There’s a sugary coating to the apples with an oak chaser. You get a sense of minerality from the tequila barrel as well. In general, the tequila is there, subtly—you can taste the same flavors (a little smoke, a little oak, some vegetal qualities) you might in a reposado tequila. You’re left with a little agave sweetness as you swallow, leading into a pleasant tingle along the gums in the finish.
Finish: Medium finish with fresh apple juice notes back by a little bit of heat.
Final Thoughts: The fresh apple flavors you get throughout remind me of Snapple’s Apple, which, aside from not having any actual apples in it (go figure), has crisp, clear apple flavor that was somehow as appealing, if not more so, than real apple juice. For those that don’t like tequila, but like the idea of it, this is a great compromise as well. You get many of the notes you would from tequila, without the full flavor force.
If this sounds good to you, you’ll want to hunt it down ASAP: only 1,000 bottles of 3 Marlenas were made. They’re sold at the distillery and select other locations in 375mL bottles for $40.