E & J XO Extra Smooth Brandy 750mL

Gross.  Okay well I’m done…okay so not really.

Hello and welcome to another week of Booze reviews!  I am the man called Justice, and I suffer through cheap brandy so you won’t have to.  This week we looked at two tiers of brandy from the same maker.   I will be walking you through E & J XO Extra Smooth Brandy, while my associate William Henri Neve IV will be taking you through their VSOP brandy, next week.  You really better thank us for this…


A quick lesson on Brandies before we begin:  brandy is divided into very distinct levels based on how they are aged.  In order we have V.S. (Very special) which is typically aged two years, V.S.O.P. (Very Special Old Pale) which is aged four years, and finally X.O. (Extra Old) which is aged between six and twenty years.  There are also tiers above these, however those are not standardized and change from distiller to distiller.  Brandy is a liquor distilled from wine, and good brandies are often served warm without mixing.  As you may already have guessed from my earlier comments, we didn’t want to drink this warm or by itself, but by God we did…and it was all for you.

So this being the first brandy to make its appearance on Booze reviews many of the Buffalo lounge’s regulars hadn’t tried too many brandies before these two.  It was most likely because of this we just ended up grabbing two bottles that looked like a good place to start.  I won’t infringe on Will’s narrative, but I will say that this second brandy the XO performed better than the first, but then, that wasn’t very hard.  By itself this brandy burned the nose with its scent and rode the back of the throat rather unpleasantly.  Its redeeming qualities lay in its taste, where it seemed to be very average.

Of course this is my opinion, Brandy, what do you have to say for yourself?

What they say: “Hand-crafted and barrel-aged, E&J XO is the result of over three decades of brandy making experience.  Connoisseurs have called it our crowning achievement; a luxurious marriage of flavor and smoothness.  Experience it for yourself: notes of brown spice, savory caramel and sweet vanilla complemented by a long velvety finish.  E&J XO takes smooth to a new level…it is truly remarkable.”

The most impressive thing about this entire paragraph is that they never actually say that it tastes good or that it’s an amazing brandy, or that it puts others to shame, etc.  This is a large part of the reason they avoid losing any points for bottle wank.  What they say about the taste is also true, it does taste quite a bit like vanilla and caramel (one of the reasons it didn’t die in the taste section like its brother).  Alright, enough talk, time for some numbers, let’s see how this brandy stacked up:


Taste: 5.66 – A nice taste, hints of maple syrup (which may be the brown spice, caramel, and vanilla mixed) are actually in there.

Aftertaste: 6 – More of a pleasant aftertaste, continuing with the hints of caramel

Burn/Smooth: 4 – Burn improves overtime and it gives you a similar heartburn feeling, but it’s not too bad.

Aroma: 1.9 – Really offensive, but if you go back for another smell, you really get a swig of maple syrup.

Honesty: 4.83 – “The color, shape, and cork are all nice. Even the brandy has a nice color.”, “Even the wank on the back if subdued, and none of it lies.”, “It’s an attractive bottle.”, “DJ_Lvl is still racist (hates Barefoot wine, this was made by the same people).”

Mixability: 6

Sidecar: 5.16 – This tastes pretty okay.

Brandy Sour: 6.58 – Tastes better, than the sidecar.

Brantini: 6.25 – This one adds a sweetness to a standard martini which is a nice element.

Value: 5.75 – It’s cheap, but for a reason.

Google Shop Average: $14

Website: http://www.ejbrandy.com/


Reviewer Scores:

William Henri Neve the IV:6


BuffaloJern: 5

DJ_Lvl: 5.5

The Bear: 5

Huanlai: 5

Want to compare this spirit against our archives? Visit our statistics page.

Metric Score: 34.14/70 |+| Metric Average: 4.88 |+| Reviewer Average: 5.33

New to Honest Booze Reviews, or just wondering how we score? See our FAQ/Review Policy.


Final Thoughts:

For what you pay for it’s pretty good. Slightly above average thing for my palate.


22 thoughts to “E & J XO Extra Smooth Brandy 750mL”

  1. I normally just use this brandy to make a cheaper Steak Au Poivre (the taste difference is negligable). I also use it to make a similar sauce for chicken.

    I find it too crude to drink on its own.

  2. I’m not a brandy snob, I’m an Englishman but I’ve consumed a lot of brandy from the wildly cheap to the wildly expensive. And I know what tastes good and what doesn’t. I tried E & J X.O. Extra Smooth and was really amazed. I thought it was going to be OK at best. It was better than the most expensive French Brandy I’ve tried. Absolutely divine, darlings! I generally shy away from American brandies because they give me a headache and don’t taste that great. This stuff was an utter revelation. Nectar of the gods! Velvety smooth, with notes of vanilla, caramel, pear, maple syrup and a soupcon of cinnamon. I read a review that panned this product. Either the bottle was spoiled, or the reviewer’s taste buds were. Do yourself a favour and try a bottle of this wonderful stuff!

  3. @ Justice. I say old chap, your review, such as it is, does an INJUSTICE to this remarkably smooth brandy. I find the E&J XO to be eminently drinkable. I’ve suffered the snobbery of social settings where I’ve felt compelled to snorkel the finest aged Courvoisiers and Martels, whilst screwing up my face and rasping out in a hoarse voice “Oh well played, sir! Well played! Harrumph!”

    Methinks that “Justice” is aware of Ernest y Julio’s history of giving generously to Conservative causes and has arrogated to himself the agenda of damning the Gallo’s fine product with faint praise. This longhaired filthy hippie should stick to things he is familiar with, such as hydroponics, dreadlocks and tie-dyed tshirts.

    1. A. This was our first brandy review, and we didn’t come at it with snobbish attitude.
      B. It was much better than the VSOP, but still not great.
      C. Our agenda is that we hate walking into stores where everything has a 90+ score.
      D. I’m trying to imagine Justice with dreadlocks and a tie-dye shirt – it’s somehow not possible yet equally hilarious.

  4. Not a brandy drinker but found it ok. Thought it better diluted a bit and cold, single shot, one ice cube. Not bad, especially for the price. Good occasional alternative to Scotch or Whiskey.

  5. Just to clarify: My bottle had a black blouse, as opposed to the silver one pictured here, and the label said “Limited Release/Vintage Reserve”. Don’t know if different vintage or if it matters. Still, not bad at all.

  6. Bought it on a whim. Not having ever tasted what someone would classify as the “Best”, I thought it was pretty good. A few nips out of the flask on a cold golf course morning suited me and my cart partner just fine. So we had a few more.

  7. I’m pretty much a brandy noob. But I’ve been drinking single malt scotch and craft bourbon/rye for years now. So I’d like to think I have at least a competent tasting palate.

    In the past two months I’ve conducted two blind tastings of three “low-end” brandies: Paul Masson V.S.O.P, St-Remy V.S.O.P., and E&J X.O.

    E&J X.O has won my blind test both times. Smooth with a nice vanilla flavor, and very little burn.

    I can buy a 750ml bottle in Houston for $12. Can’t beat it at that price.

  8. E&J XO is nothing short of perfection in a glass. It’s fashionable to knock the taste of this eminently drinkable libation because, well, it’s “affordable,” or to put it more crudely, cheap. To hell with the brandy snobs, I say! Do yourself a favor and try E&J XO. The only thing that comes close (in this price range) is St. Remy XO, which is damn yummy, too — a bit fruitier with a more understated vanilla taste. E&J XO is like drinking a cinnamon roll with a boozy kick. Great after a meal or on a cold winter’s night. It’s a like wrapping yourself in raisin, maple, vanilla overcoat. Enjoy!

    1. A. Out entire business model is to do what we like – not what’s fashionable
      B. We love products that are affordable
      C. Legit this entire review and it’s predecessor state we are not brandy snobs, but overall are very new to it (aside from 1 reviewer who is a cognac snob)
      D. No this isn’t good.

  9. Are you reviewing the brandy or the price tag? This is, as advertised, very smooth with powerful overtones of caramel and maple. It’s a very pleasant and straightforward drink. In fact, I’ve never found a better brandy under $20.

  10. Been a brandy drinker for over fifty years. Used to prefer the big name French brands. After trying Gallo vsop and xo a few years ago, that’s all we drink now. It is really good AND a great value. In blind tastings Gallo has come out on top. Some snobs just can’t accept that a reasonably priced brandy can’t be better than a high priced French brand. Fact is, price does not define quality.

  11. Hennessy 750 $40
    E&J XO 750 $14
    Knowing that Frog grapes aren’t 2.5 times as good as Cali grapes.

  12. Just bought my second bottle, I’m liking it just fine, I’m fairly new to brandy. I guess I would ask what to compare it to?

  13. I have tried just regular (E&J)and it was, as stated in the post, harsh, and very strong. So, as I was talking to store clerk, one day, he referred me to (VSOP) and it was terrible. I told him about it and he seemed puzzled and then he said ok, try this. You’re going to love it. He cut the price and I tried it. I have been a true pan of (XO) every since. I don’t have to add anything to it and I do drink at room temperature. My friends also love it. Oh, and I have tried many different types of brandies, wines, cognacs, whisky’s, etc… I guess I do have taste for comparison. I would say try it, you might like it. I know, I do.

  14. Spent an afternoon tasting different Brandys not knowing brands. Voting by numbers. Xo hands down for me. Glad I didn’t read snob reviews. Xo was the cheapest out of 7.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *