Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac
Review: Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac 90.5/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published May 29, 2013
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 Gabriel plunged headlong into the task of rebuilding what he described to me as:
“A run down business with no distribution network, with no real sales, good stocks but no organized production”
Alexandre Gabriel made the most of his opportunity, and now that run down business with no distribution network is s 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.
In the Bottle 4.5/5
Although the sample bottle I was given was the 200 ml variation (see left), I was also given a bottle shot of the full size bottle shown above. I think the bottle looks quite nice perhaps even masculine. I like that even though this is an entry-level (so to speak) Cognac, the spirit is still treated with a fine bottle and solid corked top.
(I should note that the Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac is bottled at 45 % alcohol by volume.)
In the Glass 9/10
When I poured my 1840 Cognac into my glencairn glass I noticed the spirit carried a nice medium gold colour which seemed to have some darker rusty tones staining its hue. I tilted my glass and gave it a light twirl and saw that the spirit left only a light sheen on the inside of the glass. Tiny leglets formed at the crest, and a multitude of small skinny legs formed running back into the 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.
As I allowed the glass to breathe I began to sense some autumn smells of freshly cut tall grass and straw drying in the autumn sunshine. Altogether the glass has a fresh vibrant nose with more depth of character than I was expecting from a “cocktail spirit”.
In the Mouth 54.5/60
The cognac leads out with impressions of sweet sugar covered grapes and honeyed oak spices. I taste hints of butterscotch candies and a building up of wood spices and white pepper. There were little dabs of wood sap puckering the palate, and a lovely grassy flavour seemed to weave in and out of the flavour stream. As I sipped, I noticed the butterscotch sweetness melding into the other flavours adding an impression of marmalade to the fray. Hints of cinnamon, a touch of menthol, and a vague sort of nuttiness that reminded me of pistachios rounded out the flavour. Although this is a Cognac designed for the cocktail culture, I have no problem recommending it as a sipping spirit as well.
After my initial tasting session was over, I did mix a few cocktails, and once I began, I was hooked on the idea. The flavour brought forward by the 1840 cognac was outstanding in the realm of the mixed drink. The cognac mixes easily with fresh fruit juice making lovely refreshing daiquiri style bar drinks.
In the Throat 13.5/15
The finish is full of flavours of fresh green grapes mixed with honey and butterscotch. The palate and throat are left with a nice glow of wood spice, pepper and cinnamon. As strange as it may seem, I taste mint leaves as the final spicy flavours ebb.
The Afterburn 9/10
Alexandre Gabriel, in designing the Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac, attempted to bring back an older style of cognac which would have a more broadly based appeal for not only the cognac connoisseur, but also the cocktail enthusiast, and I must say he succeeded wildly. I had a lot of fun with my sample!
You may click this link to read some of my other Brandy and Cognac Reviews
My thought process with respect to the following recipe was that the approachable flavour of the Original Formula Cognac would mix well in a cocktail combined with a stronger flavoured, oaky brandy. Because, some of my friends believe it is sacrilegious to mix brandy or cognac in bar drinks and cocktails, I decided to call my particular creation which features both a cognac and a well aged brandy, the Heretic. (And for the record, it is a thoroughly delicious cocktail!)
The Heretic Cocktail
1 oz Pierre Ferrand Original 1840 Formula Cognac
1/2 oz Miguel Torres 20 Year Old Brandy
1 oz fresh squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3 drops Angostura Bitters
Add the first five ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a lemon slice
Please Enjoy Responsibly!
My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:
0-25 A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49 Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59 You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69 Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74 Now we have a fair mixing spirit. Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79 You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84 We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89 Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94 Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+ I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.
Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and Bronze medal scale as follows:
70 – 79.5 Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5 Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95 Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+ Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)