Brandy and Cognac have enjoyed growth in Australia in recent years as the premiumisation trend takes hold and consumers look at drinking less, but drinking better.

This trend has seen distilleries spring up across the country and has given birth to increasing numbers of Australian-made gins and whiskies. Premiumisation has also driven an increase in cocktail culture, both at home and in the trade.

With its complex flavour profiles that can deliver a range of sweet, fruit-like flavours balanced with oak-driven richness, brandy is an amazing spirit for bartenders to work with and to create cocktails with. From classics like the Sidecar, French 75 and Vieux Carré to variations on classics like a Brandy Old Fashioned, brandy and Cognac have a versatility that bartenders should love working with.

So when Richard Angove decided he wanted to make a brandy that was for the on-premise, that would a be great canvas for bartenders to work with, he knew there was one place to go – to the bartenders themselves.

And so the team embarked on a process of tasting and testing with a group that included some of Australia’s key bartenders and bar owners and ultimately they came up with St Agnes Bartender’s Cut.

Speaking about the decision to come up with this new product, Angove said: “As Australia’s oldest continually operating craft distillery St Agnes deemed the time was right to create a spirit made by bartenders for bartenders and capitalise on the growth in cocktail culture, the premiumisation of spirits (and beverages in general) and give Australians a spirit of international quality to create their favourite mixed drinks.”

He added: “St Agnes Bartenders Cut is a brandy created by bartenders for bartenders. It is the result a collaboration between 10 of Australia’s leading bartenders and the St Agnes Distillery. After a full day blending session at legendary Australian Spirit focused Bar – Bad Frankie in September 2018, the flavour profile and blend of Bartenders Cut brandy was set.”

Owner of Bad Frankie, Seb Costello, said he was delighted to work with Richard and the Angove team on the new brandy and that the focus was on making sure it was unmistakably a brandy.

“I said to Richard we don’t want to have wolf in sheep’s clothing here. We didn’t want to try and be like a whisky, we didn’t want to try and be something else.

“We wanted to be able to say ‘hey, this is brandy’. You can drink this all the time just like your nan, because your nan is bloody smart.”

The process saw the Angove team head to the meeting with bartenders and operators and sit down with a whole range of brandies from across the St Agnes portfolio.

“Richard talked about all the different brandies and the finishes that he had and we all went through the tasting with him,” Costello explains.

“Then we broke off into smaller groups and we started creating our own blends. Everyone had about three different blends, so then we started to go through those and think about what we wanted as bartenders from this drink.

“As bartenders what we really wanted first up was to have a really well-balanced brandy, then a bit more alcohol, so it’s 44 per cent – if you sharpen that alcohol then the brandy really comes through.

“And we really wanted to make it an unequivocally Australian brandy.”

In detailing that point Costello said: “If you take this side by side with a Cognac it’s totally different in the same way when you compare French wine to Australian wine. Australia is very big and rich and delicious and French wines are very subtle and light.

“What I really recommend is that people just taste them side by side and figure out which one works best for you. But the idea was to make it so we could put it in the classic cocktails and that it would be super-delicious.”

And why should bartenders embrace this new brandy? Well there’s key elements like the St Agnes Bartenders Cut has a minimum age of eight years; St Agnes is Australia’s oldest continually operating craft distillery and all the St Agnes brandies are matured in small oak casks to help create a spirit with uniqueness and character.

But for Costello it’s more than that. This is a brandy created by bartenders, for bartenders. This is for on-premise only, it won’t go into bottle shops “this is a specific product for making cocktails for drinking in bars,” he said.

“This was all about, let’s give bartenders something. They want something measurable, they want something that’s delicious, they want something they can mix and they want something that is not all over the off-premise, and that’s what they have got here.”

So now is the time to jump on-board, mix the St Agnes Bartender’s Cut with your classic cocktails, or work with the flavour profile to create something new. St Agnes Bartender’s Cut is now available exclusively to the on-premise through distributor Vintage House Wine and Spirits, and more information on the brandy is available at

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.