Gonzalez Byass is primarily known as a wine family in Spain, though they also own several spirits as part of their portfolio, including Flor de Caña rum. Two of their brandy lines are Soberano and Lepanto.
These two, however, are very different brandies. Soberano 5-year, which is about $30 and distilled in a column still (a pretty new way of distilling), is sweet in the smell and candy-corn-like in the flavor. It has no spice or alcohol burn and would make an excellent Sidecar cocktail.
Lepanto is a 12-year-old brandy, distilled in a copper pot still. The price tag reflects its age ($60) and the flavor is quite different than Soberano, with a stronger and spicier flavor than its younger brother, with burn on the finish and sizzle on your tongue. In a vague way, this brandy reminds me of a very old whiskey-barrel-aged tequila – spice mixed with a freshness from the grapes, slightly sour notes in the nose and a vanilla cream flavor on the finish. For the price, you’d be more likely to sip Lepanto than mix it, but it would make an outstanding, complex cocktail if you decided to shake one up. We initially tasted Lepanto on the Simple Cocktails Podcast.
From what I can tell, the Gonzalez Byass family of brandies are just beginning to be distributed in the United States. If you have a chance to try Soberano or Lepanto, let me know what you think in the comments.