Review: E&J XO Extra Smooth Brandy
Any product that includes “extra smooth” in its name is never a promising introduction, but in picking up a mini of Ernest & Julio Gallo’s highest-end brandy — designated an XO release — for all of 99 cents, I figured the overall level of risk was very low.
There’s no formal age information here — unlike in France, “XO” is unregulated and has no formal definition in the U.S. — though E&J also sells VS and VSOP expressions, so in theory this could be the oldest of the bunch.
Let’s try it.
To be sure, this is a blunt brandy, but it’s at least short of appalling. Vanilla is so strong and overbearing on the nose that it feels like pure vanilla extract has been added to mix. Notes of Hershey’s chocolate syrup are also evident, but there’s almost none of that fruity/raisiny note that dominates good brandies. On the palate: More of the same, with a slightly stony, almost peppery note that catches the back of the throat. As it’s quite sweet with all of those milk chocolate notes — but short of candylike — it’s surprisingly easy to drink, though equally easy to forget within a few seconds of swallowing it down. Glug glug!
C / $11 / ejbrandy.com