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Brandy Bottle Reviews

  • Christmas Gift Set of Award-Winning Cognac

    Christmas Gift SetThe Hermitage 45 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac is one of David's favourite cognacs of all time so this year, we are offering it in a Christmas Gift Set comprising a 20Cl bottle and one of our exclusive Hermitage Cognacs tulip-shaped tasting glasses. It is a wonderful opportunity to try one of our Gold medal winning cognacs at a fraction of the price. These sets are in very limited supply so don't hang about, order yours today.

    The Hermitage 45 Year Old is a cognac of great distinction which must not be hurried as the many aromas and flavours need to be discovered slowly. Presented at 44% abv, it is a fabulous Christmas present for the cognac connoisseur.

  • 40th Birthday Gifts for this year and next

    40th Birthday GiftsWe have spent many years searching for a 40 Year Old Cognac that meets our standards and so it is very exciting to report that the Hermitage 40 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac has arrived.  A great cognac for any occasion but especially for those celebrating a 40th Anniversary or 40th Birthday.  If you are looking for 40th Birthday Gifts for next year, two other new arrivals that you may wish to consider are the Baron de Saint-Fauste 1980 Bas Armagnac and the Chateau de Beaulon 1980 Fins Bois Cognac, both distilled 40 years ago.   Before you choose though, do check out all our brandies from 1980, we have vintage cognacs, armagnacs and calvados.

     

  • Global Luxury Spirits Masters 2019 - GOLD Medals

    Spirits MastersNot only have we had a record year with the introduction of new Hermitage Cognac vintages, the range has also been awarded an unprecedented number of GOLD Medals.  The latest, received from the Luxury Spirits Masters 2019, are for:

    Hermitage 1923 Grande Champagne Cognac.  A particularly fine example of a 1920s cognac that has taken many decades to reach perfection.

    "This has a gorgeous flavour, somewhere between a sultana and a sun-dried apricot with the spirit framing the layers with impeccable integration."  Olly Smith, Wines & Spirits Expert

    Hermitage 1995 Grande Champagne Cognac.  This wonderful cognac comes from the same distillery as our award-winning 1999 vintage but has aged for a longer period, enabling a greater complexity of flavours.  It is a rich and beautifully finished cognac, fit for a king.

  • Exsto Cognac - Elixir & Or Imperial

    ExstoExsto Cognac has been created by two French women, sommelier Julie Dupouy and entrepreneur Sabrine Duong.  Their idea was to make a cognac from a “female point of view”, not “an old man’s type of drink” nor made in a traditional way through the sole vision of a family-run cognac maker.  They picked 8 eaux-de-vie from 15 small cognac producers and were assisted by Vallantin-Dulac’s seventh generation master blender.  Their aim was to produce a more elegant spirit with a more fruit-forward style.  At the end of the process, they had created two blends: Elixir and Or Imperial. The bottles feature the hand-drawn multi-ringed topography of Cognac’s grape-growing areas - a visual that Dupouy likens to a Mastryoshka doll – while the caps, which include air-tight Vinalok seals, are designed by French glass artists Eve and Laurent George.  It will be interesting to see if a new approach to cognac production, unencumbered by family traditions, can produce a different style of cognac.  Whether the female influence will result in increased popularity with the ladies remains to be seen.

  • Record Year For New Hermitage Vintage Cognacs

    Hermitage Vintage CognacsThis year we have had an amazing number of new Hermitage Vintage Cognacs added to the range.  We have been thrilled to find so many exquisite and unique cognacs packed with wonderful aromas and flavours for you to enjoy.  Many are now Gold medal winners as blind judging panels across the globe have also recognised their superior qualities.

    We have not had the chance to tell you about these three yet:

    Hermitage Paradis 1893 Grande Champagne Cognac.  This was an extremely lucky find as it is regarded by many as one of the finest vintages to come from this important period.

    Hermitage 1970 Fins Bois Cognac.  It is rare to find cognacs from the Fins Bois in the Hermitage range but this one is special.

    Hermitage 1991 Grande Champagne Cognac.  Our last 1991 vintage ran out so we were delighted to find such a magnificent replacement with this one from Chez Richon.

  • Cognac Classifications on Bottle Labels

    cognac classificationsThere are all manner of cognac classifications found on bottle labels, but what do they actually mean?  Most of the generic terms below describe cognacs made by blending hundreds, or even thousands, of cognacs together to produce a vast quantity of a homogenous product for sale on supermarket shelves.  As demand increases younger and younger cognacs are used in these blends so sugar syrup and caramel colouring are added to obscure the fieriness on the tongue and lack of appealing colour.

    VS stands for Very Special.  Also known as *** (3-star) or Premium, the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend must be at least 2 years old.  Many of these younger cognacs are purchased by the ‘Big Four’ companies in order to meet their ever-growing demand.

    VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale.   The youngest eau-de-vie in the blend must be at least 4 years old.  The colour of cognac deepens the longer it stays in contact with the wooden barrel.  Although described as ‘Pale’ these young cognacs can also have caramel added which provides a red glow.

    Napoleon.  Named after the very famous Frenchman, Napoleon Boneparte, the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend must be at least 6 years old.  Up until April 2018, this was also the age of XO.

    XO stands for Extra Old and must be aged for a minimum of 10 years.  Although not official terms, Extra and Hors d’Age are often used to describe cognac of XO quality and age.  Some small producers sell XO that maybe up to 20 years old but, it is unlikely that this will be specified on the label.

    XXO is a new classification that stands for Extra, Extra Old and the youngest eaux-de-vie in any blend must have been aged for a minimum of 14 years.

    Other terms such as Reserve, Très Vieille and Heritage are often used to describe blends that are much older than XXO although none are official nomenclature.  They could be 15 or 50 years old.

    So you can see that it is very difficult to decipher exactly what is in your bottle of cognac with a generic label as only minimum ages are specified and they are highly blended.  Sometimes Single Estate is used to describe a cognac where all the eau de vie used has come from the same estate.  In this case, far fewer cognacs will be used to make the blend so the flavour should be more individual.

    cognac classificationsCognacs with Age Statements (eg 30 Year Old) are more precise as they list the youngest eau de vie used and may also comprise a blend of just one or two cognacs or indeed be Single Cask (unblended).  Vintage Cognacs also give you specific information.  The year on the label describes the year the grapes were harvested.  The cognac will be aged to perfection before being taken out of the wood and placed in glass when it will no longer mature.  Most vintage cognacs will tell you when the cognac was bottled and therefore, for how long it was aged.  This is the category that has the most information available to you, the customer.  They are expensive to produce as the casks are strictly controlled throughout the decades of ageing.  However, you can be sure that you are drinking cognac that has been matured to its optimum level, is unblended and has an unbelievable variation of aromas and flavours.  We call this complexity.

  • Calvados & Whisky - An Unusual Blend

    Calvados & WhiskyScottish whisky blender, Compass Box, has released a new spirit drink comprising calvados & whisky.  The calvados, from the Christian Drouin distillery, has been blended with whiskies aged in French oak casks and Sherry butts. Compass Box’s founder said “We have been blending calvados and Scotch whisky at home for years, enchanted by their complementary qualities.  Although one of the world’s greatest spirits, calvados is also one of the most underappreciated”.  The result is said to possess ‘layers of apple character married beautifully with malty, vanilla and spice-like notes’.  Compass Box is not the only firm to recognise the success of this flavour combination, though.  Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery has just released a single malt whisky, finished in ex-calvados casks.  Perhaps such ideas will help calvados get the appreciation it so deserves?

  • IWSC 2019 Cognac Gold Medals

    IWSC 2019 cognac gold medalsThe IWSC 2019 Awards have just been announced and we are delighted to report that Hermitage Cognacs are once again amongst the winners with three cognac gold medals.

    Leading the way is the Hermitage 1950 Grande Champagne Cognac which was awarded a GOLD OUTSTANDING medal.  ‘Classically good old cognac. Rancio to the fore, with a quite wonderful palate’   Judges' comments

    GOLD Medals were also awarded to two other Grande Champagne Cognacs:

    Hermitage 1940 Cognac   ‘Wonderfully powerful aromas that absolutely typify good, old cognacs’   Judges' comments

    Hermitage 1945 Cognac   ‘The real personification of just how good and elegant old cognac can be’   Judges' comments

  • Cognac Investment - The Time Is Now

    Cognac InvestmentCraft Vintage Cognacs are rare and finding them is a specialist business as they are unique, and the level of luxury sought is only found in a few of the very finest and oldest cognac firms.  Vintage Premier Cru cognacs are in extremely limited supply. Very good, award-winning cognacs are even more rare which is why Hermitage Premier Cru Vintages are not generally available in the wider volume markets. The secret is to find the cellars that still house some of the oldest and rarest nectars still in existence.  Many of them belong to families who have, for generations, been producing cognacs.  These cognacs have been allowed to gradually mature through the ages, masterpieces forgotten in time.  Each special vintage is highly valuable and sealed in glass to preserve its greatness and value for future generations - a superb cognac investment.

    Today, increasing demand in the rapidly growing cognac market means that single estate vintages from the top crus are largely swallowed up into generic blends of indeterminate age and quality, their youthfulness obscured by syrups and caramel additives. Less is kept back by individual producers for the family cellars and much of that which is retained, is sold at a relatively early age.

    Cognac investmentRecent sales of some rare vintages have only served to highlight the value of old vintage cognacs. Prices of more than £200k a bottle were achieved on two occasions and we have seen other mouth-watering prices being paid. But not only have the prices of early pre-Phylloxera cognacs increased, so have the prices of more recent vintages and well-aged cognacs of 60 – 80 years as their availability decreases.  It is clear to the experienced cognac specialist that availability of the older ages is on the decline with some of the ‘grand marques’ supplied by the big houses already using lower aged cognacs from lesser crus in their blends.  Over the last 5 - 10 years, we have also seen the prices of some well-known commercial cognacs double. Bottles of Remy Louis XIII, which doesn’t even have an age statement, sold for about £1200 six or seven years ago but can now fetch more than £2500.  Richard Hennessy sold with a trade price in 2017 of around £1500 sells today at £3500 again, it has no age statement.  Clearly this is working to the producers’ advantage as the cognac barrel ages are almost certainly in decline.

    Premier cru cognacs from the Champagnes are slow in ageing and naturally aged cognacs from this area will take fifty or more years in cask to develop their natural qualities.  Some form of age statement will provide the clearest indication of quality, and therefore value, since age and value are inextricably linked.  It is little wonder that clients with larger disposable assets are now investing in these extremely rare, older vintage cognacs. The time to do this is now for we do not know how much longer will we continue to find these old ‘rancio’ brandies that have matured to a rich and valuable glory.

  • The Charente Scene - Courvoisier - Summer 2019

    Charente 2019, CourvoisierIt seems that we haven’t got enough variations on the theme of cognac as Courvoisier are extending their range of cask finished cognac drinks. Of course, any cognac which is produced outside the rules established over the last hundred or so years, cannot be called cognac.  However, consumers have come to recognise the big brand labels and happily buy what they believe to be cognac, when it has actually been finished in a cask that has held a different alcoholic beverage. Courvoisier, in their plight to obscure the taste of their cognac, have recently added a bourbon cask finish cognac drink to their sherry cask cognac drink. One wonders how long it will be before we see port finished cognac drinks, sauterne finished cognac drinks and perhaps even a Caribbean rum finish. Do they really need to hide the flavour of their cognac so badly?

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