Carmel have relaunched their famous Carmel 100 Brandy. The minimum age statement on the label is eight years, but there also components in the blend of up to twenty five years old.
The brandy is made mainly from Colombard grapes, the same grapes used in the production of Cognac and Armagnac, and a little Emerald Riesling and Chenin Blanc grapes. All were all grown in the coastal regions of Israel.
Seventy five percent of the base wine was double distilled in pot stills (as in Cognac) and the remainder was distilled in a continuous still (as in Armagnac and America.)
The brandy was then matured in small French oak casks in the oldest and most historic part of Carmel?s Rishon Le Zion Wine Cellars. This particular barrel room still has the original wooden slatted roof and this was where wine was first made in 1890, before the deep underground cellars were built.
The barrels used for maturation were previously used for aging Carmel?s premium wines. This gives the brandy a slightly rusty color and a ?wine finish? taste. It has a rich fruity nose, with an aroma of dried fruits, a warm and full middle palate and a long, lingering finish.
Carmel 100 Brandy was first released in 1982 to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the founding of Carmel in 1882, by Baron Edmond de Rothschild. It disappeared from the shelves a few years ago as the master distiller waited for the various components to mature, before releasing the next ?expression?. This edition is eagerly awaited. There are not many quality Israeli or kosher brandies.
The master distiller is Mendel Gil. Born in Moldavia, he graduated in Odessa and then Yalta gaining a BA, Masters and PhD in various studies of winemaking and viticulture. In the Crimea he gained his experience in making quality brandy, learning the secrets of the distiller. He joined Carmel in 2001 and is responsible for making the dessert wines, Carmel?s brandies and Sabra Liqueurs.
Carmel has won many prizes for its brandies. Undoubtedly the most prestigious was the Trophy for Best Brandy Worldwide, which was awarded to Carmel 100 Brandy, 9 year old, in 1998. This is arguably the finest award a brandy can achieve and it reflected great credit on both Israel and Carmel?s brandies.
Carmel started to distill excess wine in 1898. The distillation tower was built at Rishon Le Zion Cellars in 1930. Carmel has four pot stills, installed just after the founding of the State of Israel and two continuous stills. In those days Carmel produced many different spirits. Today Carmel has decided to concentrate on wine and only produces quality spirits like brandy and the well-known, award winning Sabra Liqueurs. All the other spirits, liqueurs that Carmel used to make have been discontinued.
Carmel produces three brandies today. Carmel 100 Brandy is of VSOP standard. The Carmel 777 Brandy, 3 year old, is mainly sold in supermarkets and the Carmel Extrafine Brandy, 2 year old, is one of Israel?s oldest products, being sold with virtually the same label and name since before the founding of the state, sixty years ago. The 777 and Extrafine are aperitif brandies, fruity,spirity but light. The Carmel 100 Brandy is the perfect after dinner digestif, to be slowly sipped from a brandy balloon glass. Proof that Carmel which in recent years has undergone a quality revolution with wine, has not forgotten how to make a quality brandy.