Ever since I was in my twenties, my hard liquor of choice has been French brandy. By "brandy," I mean cognac, armagnac, and any other "nacs" made in France. The good ones, like Courvoisier, Hennessy, and Martell, all seem superior to me to brandies made elsewhere. (There are many other French ones, as well, but these are the least expensive brands sold in the U.S. which seem absoutely great to me.) Whenever I try Mexican, Spanish, or American brandy, it seems too sweet, as if too much carmel "coloring/flavoring" had been added. And it is not as aromatic or smooth.
Is there anywhere outside of France where they make brandies competitive in flavor--dry, smooth, and aromatic--to the ones which I have named? I realize that if I spend a $100 or more on a bottle of brandy, I can probably find something similar somewhere, but for the price, say U.S. $40 per bottle, or less, is there anything made in (say) Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Portugal, Germany, Mexico, the United States, Brazil, Argentina which comes close to the quality of French brandy? And if not, why not?