The color of E&J Brandy VS is a deep and rich amber that suggests refinement and sophistication, and the brandy also has an earthy, subtle nose that resembles a cross between unrefined honey and some sort of freshly cut wood, completing the effect.
The initial tip tastes sweet and heavy, reminding of the perceived honey in the scent, but quickly turns into a cross between bold bitterness and underlying sweetness that you can’t quite explain. When it hits the back of your throat, it stings with the sudden sense of sterility, tasting similar to what you’d imagine warm rubbing alcohol would. Despite this, the warmth of the brandy, which begins building after the first taste and slowly increases until it hits the back of your throat, numbs you to the worst of the sting, and leaves a sort of soothing lull in its wake.
One common way to drink brandy is by warming the it to just above room temperature by swirling hot water in the glass for a few seconds prior to pouring. This adds to the natural warming sensation created by the alcohol.
Straight brandy is sometimes overpowering, but adding a teaspoon of honey to the warm liquor enhances the richness of the flavor for those who aren’t accustomed to it, and dilutes the alcoholic sting enough to be enjoyable.