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Archive for the ‘Cognac Review’ Category

Review: CAMUS VSOP Elegance

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 21, 2015

CAMUSCAMus ELEGANCE VS 70CL 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.

French Presbyterian

French Presbyterian

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:

Review: CAMUS VSOP Elegance

“… 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!

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Review: Hennessy Very Special Cognac

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 14, 2015

Hennessy V.S.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 SAM_1369

Blood Orange Bitters

You may read my full review here:

Review: Hennessy Very Special Cognac

” … 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!

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The Year in Cognac and Brandy (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2015

RH-winner2014I 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:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Cognac (And Brandy)

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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: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #1 – CAMUS Extra Elegance

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 24, 2014

c-IMAGE CAM ELEGANCE EXTRA 70CL BOTTLE

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 12 Cognacs of Christmas #1 – CAMUS Extra Elegance

“… 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!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #3 – Hennessy X.O

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 20, 2014

Hennessy XO SAM

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 12 Cognacs of Christmas #3 – Hennessy X.O

“… 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!

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas # 4 – Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 18, 2014

Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges (599x800)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:

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas # 4 – Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges

“… 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!

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Note: You may follow my Countdown list of the 25 Best Canadian Whiskies here:   The Rum Howler – Top 25 Canadian Whiskies of 2014

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #5 – Camus XO Borderies

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 16, 2014

BORDERIES XO 70CLThe 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 12 Cognacs of Christmas #5 – 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

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #6 – Camus XO Elegance

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 14, 2014

CAM ELEGANCE XO 70CL_WHITE BACKGROUNDCamus is the last of the major Cognac Houses that is entirely family run, and the House has been run 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 Elegance blend which are said to strengthen the aromatic caharacter of the final Cognac.

Although the distilled spirits which make up the Elegance blend must be aged for a minimum of six years, according to Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, some of the eaux de vie in the Elegance XO blend has been matured for as long as 30 years.

I have reviewed the Camus XO Elegance in the past; but this was the first time (during my 12 Cognacs of Christmas Review Series) that I had an opportunity to taste it side by side with so many other Cognac spirits. Based upon my side by side tastings, I have adjusting my scoring for this review and you can read the finalized review here:

Review: CAMUS XO Elegance Cognac

“… 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 …”

It was about eight years ago that I wondered into a local liquor store looking for a nice cognac for my bar shelf. I wanted a really good bottle to have on hand should a guest ask for a drink of brandy or Cognac. I bought the Camus XO Elegance after tasting several high-end brandies and Cognac. I never regretted this choice, and my review, demonstrates that my opinion of this fine Cognac has remained unchanged.

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #7 – Pierre Ferrand Reserve

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 12, 2014

1878 Cocktail SAM_1392When I received my cognac samples for this review series, I was pretty excited when the folks at River Valley Beverage Group parted with one of their Cognac Ferrand, 1st Cru du Cognac 4 bottle tasting pack which I was given which contains not only their Reserve (20 year tasting age) Cognac, but also the Ambre (10 year tasting age), the Cigare Reserve (25 year average age), and the Selection des Anges (30 year average age) Cognac. The Ambre was of course reviewed previously as part of this series, and as you can guess, the Cigare Reserve and the Selection des Anges will be each featured as well as I move through this series of reviews.

Although these spirits have no specific age statements, according to Guillaume Lamy, (Vice President – North America for Cognac Ferrand), they are each blended to a specific ‘tasting age’ profile which corresponds to which each spirit should taste like after spending a certain specified time in oak barrels. 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. In the case of the Pierre Ferrrand Reserve (Grand Champagne Cognac), this tasting age is said to be 20 years.

Here is a link to my review, of the 7th Cognac of Christmas:

Review: Pierre Ferrand Reserve

“… The aroma from the glass brings forward impressions of lightly musty leather and oak spice alongside indications of dry fruit and raisins. Some lighter aroma akin to Granny Smith apples and fresh green grape are apparent as well, but it is the darker fruit which is more dominant. Some honeycomb reaches up giving me an impression of light sweetness with touches of almond and crushed walnut shells rounding out the aroma …”

Oh yes, do try my recipe for Leo Engels’ 1878 Brandy Cocktail which is found at the end of the review!

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #8 – Camus VSOP Elegance

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 9, 2014

Champs Élysées SAM_1383The construction of the CAMUS VSOP Elegance begins with a selection of particular aromatic eaux-de-vie which are partially distilled on the lees. These include eaux-de-vie from the famous Borderies cru which are selected to strengthen the aromatic character of the VSOP Elegance as it ages. The aging barrels selected for this VSOP are medium toasted rather than lightly toasted which helps to maintain the original characteristic aromas of the eaux-de-vie.

The ages of the varies blended Cognac in the VSOP Elegance must be (by law) a minimum of four 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 aged longer.

Here is a link to my latest review:

Review: Camus VSOP Elegance

“… The initial aroma of from the glass brings forward a very nicely fruited mixture of green grape, apricot and raisin all of which are melded nicely into the rising scents of fine oak spices. There is a gentle sweetness in the breezes represented by indications of sweetgrass and butterscotch. As the glass sits I sense a light herbaceous quality within the air with hints of camphor and menthol tickling the senses …”

I have formed a very positive impression of the Camus VSOP. It is a very nice sipping spirit with enough complexity and depth of flavour to keep me interested all the way to the bottom of the glass. I also had a lot of fun mixing cocktails, and I have shared one of the most interesting cocktails as my suggested recipe for the Camus, Champs Élysées.

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Stay tuned as between now and Christmas I will continue my series,the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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