There are evenings when you might not think spring is here. For the chillier nights, there are some easy-drinking, very warming choices. And if the heat does kick in, a couple of them are pretty good with ice, too.
Glendalough Double Barrel Irish Whiskey ($40) is a smooth choice, with notes of dried fruit, raisin, honey, spice, a little lemongrass and a hint of pepper at the finish. The craft distillery from Wicklow has made a fine sipper, which spent years in American oak barrels and sherry casks. Drink it neat.
From Normandy comes the bracing, amber gold Boulard Calvados Pays d’Auge VSOP ($40 to $45). A spirited expression of ripe apple distilled from apple cider in a copper “pot still.” Calvados is versatile. You can enjoy the brandy as an aperitif or a digestif. A “trou Normand,” or Norman hole, is the name given to the shot of Calvados traditionally taken between courses of a very large meal. The idea is to revive your appetite.
There’s a distinctive coppery, amber hue to the Lepanto OV Brandy de Jerez ($69), an oloroso Viejo beauty that delivers suggestions of spice and nuts. It has aged 15 years in barrels, including three in those of oloroso, or medium-dry, sherry. The result is lush and attractive, excellent on its own in a brandy glass. This Lepanto also can be served over ice.
Gonzalez Byass Soberano Brandy ($25) is a less-complicated affair, deep amber in color, offering traces of raisin in the aroma. It’s good either neat or with ice.