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Archive for the ‘Brandy and Cognac’ Category

Review: Pierre Ferrand Ambre (Grande Champagne Cognac)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 9, 2014

Pierre Ferand Amber SAM_1048

Grande Champagne Sidecar

Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac is blended solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically from the Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes grown within the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation (region) of France. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to Guillaume Lamy, (Vice President – North America for Cognac Ferrand), this is because the spirit is blended to meet an age profile that represents a 10-year-old spirit. To maintain product consistency from year to year, the actual average age of the blended cognac will vary depending upon the cellar conditions during maturation and the interactions between the oak and the aging eaux de vie.

SAM_1063

1878 Mint Julep

Pierre Ferrand uses only small (25 – hectoliter) copper pot stills to produce their Cognac; and after distillation, the resulting distillate (eaux de vie) is matured in small 270-liter French Limousin oak barrels. During this aging process, the cognac may rest in any of seven different aging cellars (each with traditional earthen floors). Within each of these cellars, the spirit is monitored, and may be transferred several times during its aging life to different cellars and/or to different oak casks (with differing char levels) to maintain the integrity and character of the spirit.

You may of course, read my full review here:

Review: Pierre Ferrand Ambre (Grande Champagne Cognac)

“… I discovered the Pierre Ferrand Ambre has a wonderful freshness featuring both floral and citrus elements which reached out of that glass and teased my nostrils. Mixed into those breezes are firm impressions ripe green grapes and a gentle sweep of vanilla. I also sense an herbal grassy note, as well as a few wisps of spicy raisins, and a mild winding of sandalwood and oak …”

And for those who are willing to throw off the shackles of preconception, I have included two cocktails which were  originally created for the Cognac spirit, the Grande Champagne Sidecar (pictured left) and the 1878 Mint Julep (pictured right).

Cheers Everyone!

Hopefully, springtime is around the corner, and the snow and cold we see in those pictures is gone soon.

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Alabazam and Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge – Instant Classic!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 21, 2014

Torres Alabazam SAM_1051The Alabazam is an old cocktail recipe usually credited to Leo Engels, an American bartender (working in London) who published the recipe in 1878 (recipe number 192 by the way) in his cocktail book, American and Other Drinks (grab yourself a copy because this is not the only gem in the book). His recipe bears a resemblance to the modern Sidecar, but with one significant difference, Mr. Engels used Angostura Bitters in the recipe (with the lemon juice and orange Curacao), lots of Angostura Bitters!

I have seen a few modern versions of the recipe, usually with the bitters toned down, and the teaspoon of sugar replaced with a teaspoon of simple syrup. However, I recommend the original construction,  as well as the use of a robust brandy which will stand up to the bitters. After a bit of experimentation I found Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge works extremely well.  (see review for Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge  here)

Leo Engels recipe can be summarized as follows:

Alabazam

Half a wine glass of brandy (about 1 3/4 oz)
2 teaspoons Orange Curacao
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Shake well over fine (crushed ) ice
Strain into a wine glass
Enjoy

The Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge Brandy, with its strong oak flavour running throughout, works very well with the heavy dose of bitters in the Alabazam. I also used Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (see review here) to obtain as close to an original 1878 Curacao flavour as possible. When you try to duplicate the recipe please, do not skimp on the sugar, as the lemon juice and bitters are unforgiving if not balanced by the appropriate amount of sweetness.

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Note:

Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge, is a double distilled brandy made by the Torres family (or bodega) who have been intrinsically linked to the wine making region of Spain known as the Penedès for over three centuries. Their brandy is produced from selected wines of the Parellada (a traditional Catalan white varietal) and Ugni Blanc (also known as Trebbiano in Italy) grape varieties. After distillation of the wine in copper pot stills, a careful selection process is undertaken to choose the most positive aromatic fractions, and these are aged in french Limousin oak barrels.

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Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy (30 year Solera)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 2, 2014

SAM_1013Torres Jaime I is produced in the Penedès region of Spain by Miguel Torres. This distinctive brandy is named for the founder of the House, Jaime Torres Vendrell, and is produced from old soleras which were aged from selected distilled wines. In fact, some of these soleras began their lives as distilled Pardella Wines destined for the Torres 10 Brandy, but were instead kept aside to serve as reserve stocks. To make the Torres Jaime I, these reserves were enriched with some of the House’s best soleras, the oldest of which were aged 30 years. The final piece of the puzzle (so to speak) was the addition of a small amount of aged 1972 eau-de-vie of Folle Blanche lees (which is normally used to produce high-quality pot-still brandy).

Although I reviewed this lush, well aged brandy about two years ago; yesterday, I added a new cocktail to the review.

You may read my full review with the added cocktail, Brandy Février, here:

Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy

“… The Torres Jaime I exhibits a dark, lush copper colour in the glass. The brandy is complex, assertive and very intense. In fact, the bouquet from the glass has the ability to fill the room when it is poured. The aroma is oak stained and very rich… “

Please enjoy my review of this excellent aged Brandy, Cheers!

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Review: Hine Rare VSOP

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 14, 2014

Pack Bouteille Rare VSOP 30 cmHine Rare VSOP is produced from a blend 25 Cognac spirits in the heart of France’s Cognac appellation on the banks of the River Charente. More than 50% of this VSOP blend is distilled from grapes grown in the Grande Champagne cru and the remaining spirit is distilled from grapes produced in the Petite Champagne cru. The Grand and Petite Champagne regions are two of the most recognizable Cognac regions of France known for consistently producing high quality grape harvests.

Hine is one of the oldest Cognac Houses in the commune of Jarnac, (within the Cognac appellation in France of course), and Hine has produced their Cognac since 1763.

You may read my full review by clicking on the following link:

Review: Hine Rare VSOP

“… the initial nose is somewhat heated with scents of both raw oak spice and white pepper mingled within a fruited caramel aroma. As the glass breathes I begin to notice a growing sense of fresh fruit (peaches and apricots) as well as a few raisins in the breezes above the glass. Some bits of floral perfume seem to be present as well which remind me of camphor, lilac and iris …”

Please enjoy this review and stay tuned as I plan to examine a few more Cognac and Brandies in the coming year!

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Note: I would like to thank the good folks at Woodman Wines and Spirits for providing me a sealed 200 ml bottle of the Hine Rare VSOP to sample for this review.

You may click this link to read some of my other Brandy and Cognac Reviews

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Review: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 29, 2013

Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula

Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula

Cognac Ferrand is the result of a rare opportunity offered to a young man (Alexandre Gabriel) in 1989 by one of the oldest wine growing families in the Cognac region of France. According to Mr. Gabriel,

I met a small Cognac producer who needed help selling his products to finish off his stock. This was Cognac Ferrand. I fell in love with the product and with the region. It all reminded me of what I grew up around. So when I was invited to become a partner and told that no one was going to continue if I didn’t, I just said….yes.”

Although that beginning may have seemed rather precarious to those on the outside, Alexandre made the most of his opportunity, and now Cognac Ferrand a well-respected producer with sales in more than 40 countries world-wide.

For Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac, Mr. Gabriel collected old bottles of cognac that were bottled at a young age and designed his Cognac based upon a particular bottle from 1840 thus replicating a style of cognac which had heretofore been lost to time. In 1840, the appeal for Cognac was much more broadly based. Rather than being an after dinner indulgence consumed in a brandy snifter, those who consumed Cognac regularly mixed it with Seltzer water, and it was even the distilled spirit of choice for cocktails. Although the idea of a Cognac for mixing cocktails may seem rather strange today, Mr. Gabriel is convinced that bringing people back to the origins of cocktail culture through an original style cognac is a winning idea.

You may click on the following excerpt to read the full review:

Review: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac

“… Even before I put my nose to the glass, I could sense the clean scent of fresh green grapes climbing into the air above the glass. When I did place my nose over the glass to inspect the breezes, I received enticing aromas of oak spices which gave me and impressions of freshly sanded oak  and sandalwood. Hints of cinnamon stained the oak spices; butterscotch and honey gave the breezes a hint of sweetness; and a fruity citrus zest  contributed to an effervescent quality which was apparent in the air …”

Of course I could not help but follow Alexandre Gabriel’s lead and constructed a somewhat heretical cocktail using not only his wonderful cognac, but also a 20-year-old brandy at the conclusion of my review.

Please enjoy the review, and my fantastic cocktail, the Heretic!

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Review: Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge

Posted by Arctic Wolf on May 19, 2013

SAM_0733 Torres 20

Last month, I was invited to as a guest to attend Pacific Wine and Spirits, 40th Anniversary Portfolio Tasting at the Edmonton Golf and Country Club. At the event I was able to meet many of the people who are responsible for making the great wines and spirits which Pacific Wine and Spirits have as part of their portfolio here in the Province of Alberta. One of the great people I met was Anna Manchon, the Canadian Torres Export Manager who is of course, responsible for the entire line-up of Torres Brandy which is available here in Canada. I spent some time with her discussing her Brandy line-up, and after the event, I was happy to learn that a bottle of the Torres 20 Hors d’âge Brandy was being delivered to me for review upon my website.

Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge, is a double distilled brandy made by the Torres family (or bodega) who have been intrinsically linked to the wine making region of Spain known as the Penedès for over three centuries. Their brandy is produced from selected wines of the Parellada (a traditional Catalan white varietal) and Ugni Blanc (also known as Trebbiano in Italy) grape varieties. After distillation of the wine in copper pot stills, a careful selection process is undertaken to choose the most positive aromatic fractions, and these are aged in french Limousin oak barrels.

Click on the following excerpt to read the full review:

Review: Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge

“… The spirit possesses a nice dark mahogany colour when poured in the glass, and exhibits an obvious oak character which is interlaced with scents of both fresh fruit (grapes and pears), and dry fruit (raisins, dates and figs), as well as some nice caramel candy and vanilla. Orange peel and oak spices build in the glass as you let it breathe giving me impressions of black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, marmalade and dark rich tobacco …”

Please enjoy my Review!

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Introducing: Alexandre Gabriel (Cognac Ferrand)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 28, 2012

(a reposting of my best interview of 2012)

Allow me to welcome Alexandre Gabriel, President and Owner, of Cognac Ferrand to my website.

Alexandre Gabriel was born in France, on a farm in southern Burgundy near the medieval town of Cluny, where his grandfather taught him how to make wine and distill spirits. He went to university in Lyon, and then in the U.S. as an exchange student, before returning to Paris to attend business school. More than 20 years ago, Alexandre came upon an ancient and almost defunct Cognac house. Through his passion and his vision, Alexandre Gabriel turned this small Cognac House into a specialized house of artisan spirits before the term was even coined. He re-built what is known today as Cognac Ferrand, in the heart of the Grande Champagne district of Cognac.

Mr. Gabriel believes in making spirits for people who enjoy the epicurean life and for the bartenders that make these epicurean libations possible.

______________________________________________

I was given the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Alexandre Gabriel here on my website, and to my delight, Mr. Gabriel exceeded all of my expectations sharing his energy and passion for Craft Spirits. Mr. Gabriel shares how he “fell into a barrel of Cognac” when he was “only 2 years into drinking age by American standards”. He explains why craft spirits are so important to Cognac Ferrand, and whether or not he is he is leading the spirits world into the realms of madness.

We discuss not only Cognac, but also Gin, Vodka and Rum, and then Mr. Gabriel shares not only two of his favourite cocktails with me, but also (after a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of the teeth), his favourite or most treasured spirit which Alexandre would wish for if he were to be stranded on a deserted island…

Here is a link to the full interview:

A Man of Passion: Alexandre Gabriel

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Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cocktails & Recipes, Gin, Interviews, Liqueur, Rum, Vodka | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off

Introducing: Alexandre Gabriel (Cognac Ferrand)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 14, 2012

Alexandre Gabriel (Cognac Ferrand)

Allow me to welcome Alexandre Gabriel, President and Owner, of Cognac Ferrand to my website.

Alexandre Gabriel was born in France, on a farm in southern Burgundy near the medieval town of Cluny, where his grandfather taught him how to make wine and distill spirits. He went to university in Lyon, and then in the U.S. as an exchange student, before returning to Paris to attend business school. More than 20 years ago, Alexandre came upon an ancient and almost defunct Cognac house. Through his passion and his vision, Alexandre Gabriel turned this small Cognac House into a specialized house of artisan spirits before the term was even coined. He re-built what is known today as Cognac Ferrand, in the heart of the Grande Champagne district of Cognac.

Mr. Gabriel believes in making spirits for people who enjoy the epicurean life and for the bartenders that make these epicurean libations possible.

______________________________________________

I was given the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Alexandre Gabriel here on my website, and to my delight, Mr. Gabriel exceeded all of my expectations sharing his energy and passion for Craft Spirits. Mr. Gabriel shares how he “fell into a barrel of Cognac” when he was “only 2 years into drinking age by American standards”. He explains why craft spirits are so important to Cognac Ferrand, and whether or not he is he is leading the spirits world into the realms of madness.

We discuss not only Cognac, but also Gin, Vodka and Rum, and then Mr. Gabriel shares not only two of his favourite cocktails with me, but also (after a certain amount of wailing and gnashing of the teeth), his favourite or most treasured spirit which Alexandre would wish for if he were to be stranded on a deserted island…

Here is a link to the full interview:

A Man of Passion: Alexandre Gabriel

Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cocktails & Recipes, Extras, Gin, Interviews, Rum, Vodka | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 3, 2012

Torres Jaime I is produced in the Penedès region of Spain by Miguel Torres. This distinctive brandy is named for the founder of the House, Jaime Torres Vendrell, and is produced from old soleras which were aged from selected distilled wines. In fact, some of these soleras began their lives as distilled Pardella Wines destined for the Torres 10 Brandy, but were instead kept aside to serve as reserve stocks. To make the Torres Jaime I, these reserves were enriched with some of the House’s best soleras, the oldest of which were aged 30 years. The final piece of the puzzle (so to speak) was the addition of a small amount of aged 1972 eau-de-vie of Folle Blanche lees (which is normally used to produce high-quality pot-still brandy).

I was asked by Pacific Wine and Spiritsif I would like to receive a bottle of this Spanish brandy to review on my website. Since you are reading this, I guess I do not need to tell you whether I agreed or not.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“… The Torres Jaime I exhibits a dark, lush copper colour in the glass. The brandy is complex, assertive and very intense. In fact, the bouquet from the glass has the ability to fill the room when it is poured. The aroma is oak stained and very rich… “

You may read my full review here:

Review: Torres Jaime I Brandy

Please enjoy my review of this lush Brandy, cheers!

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Cognac Review: Camus Elegance XO

Posted by Arctic Wolf on August 2, 2012

I was asked recently if I would like to begin to review Brandy and Cognac here on my website. Some of the local importers apparently feel that theses spirits do not receive as much attention locally as they deserve. I did not really hesitate in my positive response, as it has always been my intention to continue to grow and learn as much as I can about all distilled spirits.

To kick things off, I have decided that the first review should be a Cognac from my collection, the Camus Elegance XO.

Camus is the last of the major Cognac Houses that is entirely family run, and the House has been ran that way for five generations. The construction of their Camus XO Elegance begins with a selection of different styles of eaux de vie in an effort to create a specific floral character suitable for the final Cognac. Specifically mentioned upon the Camus website are the eaux de vie from the Borderies Vineyards which are included in the blend. The distilled spirit is aged in cool damp cellars until the eau de vie reach perfect maturity.

The ages of the eaux de vie in the Camus XO Elegance blend must be a minimum of six years, although it is reported that some of the eaux de vie in the Elegance XO blend have been matured much longer.

Here is an excerpt from my review:

“… The initial nose brings forward fresh oak featuring fresh woody notes interspersed with oak spices. Vanilla and almond rise from the glass as well with hints of orange peel and canned apricots weaving into the breezes. There is a fruity vibrancy to the nose which is appealing… “

You may read my full review here:

Cognac Review: Camus Elegance XO

Please enjoy my first Cognac Review!

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