Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 14, 2015
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.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… I received enticing aromas of wood spices which gave me 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 …”
Because, some of my friends believe it is sacrilegious to mix brandy or cognac in bar drinks and cocktails, I decided to call my recommended cocktail which features both the 1840 Cognac and a well aged brandy, the Heretic. (And for the record, it is a thoroughly delicious cocktail!)
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: 1840 Cognac, Alexandre Gabriel, Cocktails, Cognac, Cognac Ferrand, Heretic | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on March 8, 2015
Courvoisier Cognac VS & the Baby Doll
We can trace the origins of Courvoisier Cognac to 1809 when Emmanuel Courvoisier began a small wine and spirits company with the Mayor of Bercy, Louis Gallois in the French suburb of Bercy (Paris, France). The company and its Cognac was soon to achieve fame as in 1811, Napoleon Bonaparte visited Bercy, and it is said, that after visiting this small suburb, Napoleon insisted that he wanted to have available a ration of cognac for his artillery companies during the Napoleonic Wars. And in fact, later (in 1869) Napoleon’s heir, Napoleon III stated a preference for Courvoisier and also bestowed the honourable title of “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court” to the company, and this title remains on display at the Courvoisier Museum in Jarnac, France today.
To produce their cognac, Courvoisier utilizes eaux-de-vie from four of the crus in the Cognac appellation, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fin Bois. The grape juice from which the cognac is distilled is produced solely from white grapes which have been grown within these appellations. The spirit is distilled twice upon a copper Charentes Still, and the resulting eaux de vie is aged in barrels hand-made from 200-year old oak sourced from the Tronçais Forest in France.
You may read my full review of Courvoisier Cognac VS by clicking on the following link:
“… As I allowed the glass to sit for a while, the wooded sap-like scents of cedar seemed to dissipate and were replaced by light baking spice aromas (brown sugar, vanilla, allspice, cinnamon, and clove) reminding me a bit of the scents and smells from a glass of aged Demerara rum. There are indications of tobacco and toasted walnut rising into the breezes as well a few hints of chocolate and a touch of cola … “
Please enjoy my review which includes as my suggested recipe for the Courvoisier VS, the Baby Doll.
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: Baby Doll, Cocktails, Cognac, Cognac Review, Courvoisier, Review, VS | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 21, 2015
CAMUS is the last of the major Cognac Houses that is entirely family run, and the House has been that way for five generations. Cyril Camus who represents the fifth generation of the Camus family currently remains in sole control of the company which currently has employees on three separate continents responsible for sales of cognac in almost every country of the world.
The CAMUS VS Elegance is the introductory spirit of the CAMUS Range. Its construction begins with a selection of eaux-de-vie made from wines distilled without lees. Of particular note on the CAMUS website is a reference to the aromas of the wine and the flavors of the Charente terroir, characterized by delicate fruity and floral notes which are particularly important for the CAMUS VS Elegance blend.
The ages of the varies blended Cognac in the VS Elegance must be (by law) a minimum of two years of age, although to maintain a consistent flavour profile from year to year, it would not be unusual for some of the specific Cognac in the blend to be aged longer.
You may read my full review here:
“… The merry little breezes above the glass bring a very nicely fruited mixture of green grape and apricot brandy into the air which are both melded nicely into rising scents of fine oak spice and light butterscotch. There is a gentle floral sweetness in the breezes represented by indications of rose petals, garden lilies and lightly perfumed iris …”
Please enjoy my review of the Camus VS Elegance which includes my suggested mixed drink recipe, the French Presbyterian Cocktail.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: Camus VS, Cocktails, Cognac, Cognac Review, Elegance, French Prebyterian | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 14, 2015
Hennessy Cognac is produced from the fruity Ugni Blanc grape picked from one of the four great crus of the Cognac region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois). The grape wine produced from the Ugni Blanc harvest is (of course) double distilled upon Hennessy’s own copper Charentes Stills, and then selected eaux-de-vie is set down to age for several years in french oak casks which have constructed from old growth oak timbers.
In 1865, Maurice Hennessy, the great-grandson of the original founder, devised a cognac classification system based upon varying numbers of stars which defined the quality of the bottled spirit. Again the classification devised by Hennessy was later adopted by the entire industry. Today, Hennessy’s Three Star Cognac, is now known as Hennessy Very Special (VS).
Blood Orange Bitters
You may read my full review here:
” … I allowed the glass to breath for a few minutes and was pleased by the melding of aromas that resulted. The oak, the caramel toffee and the fruit all coexist harmoniously with no particular element outshining any other. I notice some new smells of rich vanilla and honeycomb rising into the air; as well, some nutty smells of almond and walnut are wafting in the breezes as well …”
I hope you enjoy this review which concludes with a very nice cocktail which I found on the Jas Hennessy & Co. website, Blood Orange Bitters. It is as tasty as it sounds!
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: Blood Orange Bitters, Cocktails, Cognac, Cognac Review, Hennessy VS | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2015
I am a little late with my 2014 Rum Howler Awards. As some of you know, I took a sabbatical from my website at the end of the summer when my wife and my youngest son were each going through some medical difficulties. My time and attention was needed on the home front rather than on the web front, and as a result I made the decision in early October to postpone the publication of my Rum Howler Awards until after Christmas. I hope that no one minds the delay.
Earlier this year, I sent out a call to my contacts in the spirits industry as I was hoping to acquire 4 or 5 VSOP Cognac samples for a Rum Chums Tasting as well as for a short series of Cognac reviews to publish. The response I received was nothing short of amazing as instead of just a few VSOP Cognac, I also received an assortment of VS Cognac, and an even larger assortment of XO and super premium Cognac spirits. This meant that instead of a few VSOP spirits to review, I had suddenly acquired a bunch of Cognac spirits, sixteen samples in all. In fact I received enough sample spirits such that I am able to add the Cognac category to my annual Rum Howler Awards. (I also had a few very old Brandies which I added to the festivities.)
And thus it is time to reveal the recipients of the 2014 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Cognac (and Brandy). These Awards are for the best spirits which I encountered in the year 2014.
Here is a link to the Awards Page:
Note: The awards page contains links to my latest reviews for CAMUS VS, Courvoisier VS, and Hennessy VS Cognac.
Posted in Awards, Brandy and Cognac, Brandy Review, Cognac Review, Extras | Tagged: Brandy, Brandy Reviews, Cognac, Cognac Reviews, Rum Howler Awards, The Year in Cognac and Brandy | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2014
This is the final review in my 12 Cognacs of Christmas Review Series, and the final review is of a spirit which completely enchanted me, CAMUS Extra Elegance.
CAMUS Extra Elegance is a blend of eaux-de-vie produced primarily from the Borderies, Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne regions. The eaux-de-vie which make up the blend are all subject to a long aging process in cool, damp cellars which is said to allow the final blended Extra Elegance to reach its full quality.
Here is a link to my full review:
“… The initial nose brings forward a rich melding of butterscotch, oak and fresh fruit which smells truly delicious. Fine oak spices, green grapes and hints of butterscotch, maple and apricot brandy tease the breezes above the glass along with bits of vanilla, orange peel spice and nutty almond. As the glass breathes, the oak pushes forward bringing smells of freshly sanded oak and hints of white pepper and spicy sap upward into the air above the glass …”
I hope you have enjoyed my festive review series. This has been a great year for the Rum Howler, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: 12 Cognacs of Christmas, 1840 Cognac, Camus, CAMUS Extra Elegance, Cognac Review | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2014
Pierre Ferrand Cigare was produced in very small quantities, created solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation of France. In producing the Cigare Cognac, the aim was to structure the final spirit such that it would be suitable for pairing with a fine Cigar, hence the name Pierre Ferrand Cigare. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to the information provided to me, the Cognac is blended to achieve an average age of 25 years.
Here is a link to my latest Cognac Review:
“… The aroma is oak stained and decadent with dark dry fruit (dates, raisins and prunes), charred coconut, and roasted walnuts all rising into the breezes. I am also greeted with strong oak and cedar smells which carry a rich combination of leather and spice (hints of spicy clove mixed with allspice, and cinnamon and nutmeg) in their wake …”
Stay tuned as on Christmas Eve I will unveil my final review of the year, and complete the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Brandy Review | Tagged: 12 Cognacs of Christmas, Cigare, Cognac, Cognac Review, Pierre Ferrand | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2014
Jas Hennessy & Co., is the largest Cognac producer in the world today with sales that exceed 45 million bottles per year. The company was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy who was an Irish Officer in the army of Louis XV. Hennessy XO Cognac traces its development back to 1870 when Maurice Hennessy created a special cognac for him to share with his closest friends. This cognac meant for his ‘inner circle’ was given the name X.O to denote it as an “extra old” cognac. This X.O designation has become a labeling standard used throughout the industry, and today denotes an older Cognac style which must meet a minimum age requirement of 6 years for all of the eaux de vie within its assemblage.
The subject of this review is the modern Hennessy X.O Cognac. The spirit is produced from the fruity Ugni Blanc grapes which have been harvested from the four great crus of the Cognac region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois). The grape wine produced is (of course) double distilled upon Hennessy Distillery’s copper pot stills, and then selected eaux-de-vie is set down to age (some for as long as 30 years) in french oak casks which have constructed from old growth oak timbers.
Here is a link to my review:
“… The initial aroma displayed a strong indication of oak and wood spice with firm scents of caramel and raisin buried within that spiciness. The oak is dominant, however there is enough caramel sweetness and raisin-like fruitiness to compliment the oak and entice me to go further …”
Although I believe this Cognac is wonderful to sip on its own, I could not resist mixing one cocktail to sip on as I watched the stars on a the cold December evening, a Cognac Old Fashioned!
Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: 12 Cognacs of Christmas, Cognac, Cognac Review, Hennessey X.O | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014
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 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.
Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges is blended solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation of France. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to the information provided to me, the Cognac is blended to achieve an average age of 30 years.
Here is a link to my review of this wonderful Pierre Ferrand Cognac:
“… I was greeted with firm wood spices which oozed chocolate and baking spices (allspice & nutmeg) onto my palate. There is both fresh green grape as well as spicy raisin mingled into the pungent baking spices. I also taste bits of black licorice, hints of damp cigar tobacco, and a lovely cooling menthol. The melded combination of flavours is very appealing …”
I tasted the Selection des Anges three separate times before I wrote this review. Each time I tasted it, I was forced to raise my scoring as my appreciation of the spirit grew and then grew again. My feeling is that the Selection des Anges is a special Cognac, one that perhaps deserves a place on my newly constructed Cognac Shelf!
Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here: The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: 12 Cognacs of Christmas, Cognac, Cognac Review, Pierre Ferrand, Selection des Anges | Comments Off
Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2014
The construction of the CAMUS XO Borderies begins at the home of Camus within the Borderies cru (the smallest appellation in the Cognac region) with a selection of grapes which are produced mainly from the vines of the Domaines CAMUS Estate. The wine produced from these grapes is distilled on the lees after which the eaux-de-vie is set down to age in French oak barrels.
The ages of the various XO Borderies eaux-de-vie which make up the blend must be (by law) a minimum of six years of age, although to achieve the desired flavour profile, it would not be unusual for some of the specific Cognac in the blend to be aged much longer, in fact some of the Cognac for the CAMUS XO Borderies may be aged as for long as 30 years.
Here is a link to my full review of the CAMUS XO Borderies:
“… The XO Borderies fills the mouth with fruity flavours of fresh green grape, yellow apples, and green pears, as well as with flavours of raisins and dried apricots. So much obvious fruit in front of the oak in an XO Cognac is unusual. There is also firm undercurrent of herbal flavours which remind me of sawgrass, heather, licorice and green spearmint …”
This is one of those spirits which seemed to be under represented by the individual scores I originally assigned to each component of the review. I think it is that lovely cooling mint-like sensation combined with the lightly spicy oak sap and cinnamon in the exit which seems to beg me to repeat the process after each sip
Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!
Posted in Brandy and Cognac, Cognac Review | Tagged: 12 Cognacs of Christmas, Borderies XO, Camus, Cognac Review | Comments Off