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Brandy Bottle Reviews

  • Judging Cognac

    Judging CognacIn many ways, the concept of a fine cognac is down to the taster’s perception based on what he has tasted in the past and the flavours to which he has become accustomed in his daily life. But defining those flavours is secondary to understanding what is required of a cognac in order to describe the various properties that bring that flavour about. However, it is probably fair to say that we all like smooth and individual cognac flavours, uninterrupted by other, less desirable properties such as aggressiveness, bland flavours and overpowering sweetness caused by syrups.  When judging cognac professionally, the key skill is understanding of the desirable and not so desirable properties that can be found in it. Excluding the initial considerations of colour and aroma, my first consideration is the balance, followed by the complexity and concentration and depth of flavour. All of these are critical in defining what we seek to provide; award winning cognacs.

    A cognac that is unbalanced has many aggressive and fiery qualities that hide the style and flavour. In some cases, it may be very difficult to create balance as this is usually created by long ageing in the barrel where it gently mellows.  Young cognacs will not have developed flavour nor had time for the alcohol to reduce naturally, so will not be balanced. Where this happens, additives are used to hide the strength but, they also add sweetness to the brandy.

    The term “complexity” is often taken negatively.  In fact, it refers to a very varied mix of flavours which develop as a result of the reaction between the wood (tannins) and the alcohol in the cognac. Over time, more and more flavours will develop but it is not enough to just have a wide range of flavours, we also look for depth and concentration. It is the depth of the cognac that provides us with the most exciting tastes which are often referred to as “Rancio”. This is a richness but also an intense mustiness that one might associate with an old Madeira wine.

    Much of what we do here at Hermitage is to seek out cognacs with all these characteristics. We look to achieve Gold Medals with all we supply but it is not easy as the availability of cognacs which meet this high level of perfection is very limited. Our cognacs are at the very top of the luxury group, there are other groups with much lower standards, many being associated with generic blends and we judge them on a completely different level. There will be good cognacs at every level but there comes a point which is difficult to exceed.

  • 40 Years In The Making - Grande Champagne Cognac

    40 yearsWe have spent decades looking for a 40 year old cognac that is worthy of the Hermitage label and so we are very excited to announce that it is here at last, aged for 40 years.

    Aged with great care and expertise, this wonderful Grande Champagne cognac has been in an oak barrel for 40 years slowly maturing to its optimum condition. Flavours of plum and vanilla expand into lychee, pear, hay, plum and dried mandarin demonstrating complexity and individuality.

    A great cognac for any occasion but especially for those celebrating a 40th anniversary or 40th birthday.  Take advantage of its special price throughout July 2019.

  • The Bottle Story - Martell Blue Swift

    MartellDescribed as a ‘cognac-based spirit drink’ Martell Blue Swift is made of VSOP Cognac that has been matured in French oak casks and finished in Kentucky Bourbon casks. Far from ‘reinventing the cognac category’, it does not meet the regulations to be labelled ‘Cognac’.  Cognac must be aged in French oak casks and any finishing casks cannot have held anything other than wine or wine-based spirits.  Many cognac products with ‘a finish’ have been released over recent months so it is good to see the regulations being categorically defined.

  • Spanish Brandy Gaining Popularity

    Spanish brandy For many, Spanish brandy is something drunk on holiday, in its country of origin, but its quality can be just as good as any brandy in the world.  Made from a different grape variety (Jerez) and using the solera top up system, it is often aged in old sherry casks.  Spanish brandies can often provide better value for money than French brandies such as cognac and armagnac but they have a reputation for exclusivity which Spanish brandy has yet to earn.  Addressing this issue, Spain is beginning to focus on creating premium and ultra-premium brandies in the hope that they will be able to compete with the more famous varieties.   With consumer trends moving towards products that are legitimate, relevant, have a history and added value, Spanish Brandy could be the next big thing.

  • For those turning 50, 70 or 80 years of age in 2020

    50, 70 & 80 years old in 2020Across our website we have very special gifts and present ideas for all years of birth but these latest vintage cognacs to arrive in the Hermitage range will be perfect for those celebrating 50, 70 or 80 years in 2020.

    From the top cru, Grande Champagne, comes Hermitage 1940 Cognac.  A beautifully balanced amber nectar, with aromas of chestnuts and truffles, it was produced in the year Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister and ordered the Dunkirk Evacuation.  Also from Grande Champagne comes Hermitage 1950 Cognac - a real joy to taste with flavours including plum crumble with a blood orange peel finish.

    Hermitage 1970 Fins Bois Cognac was harvested in the year Concorde made its first supersonic flight.  It is rare to find cognacs from the Fins Bois in the Hermitage range but this one is really very special.

  • Brandyclassics News - Spring 2019

    Brandyclassics NewsThe first quarter of 2019 has continued the way 2018 finished with press coverage in both The Spectator and The Sunday Times magazine, heralding the quality of the Hermitage Cognacs range.  Henry Jeffreys of the former, particularly enjoyed the Hermitage 45 Year Old and Will Lyons of the latter, was advocating our very special Hermitage 1893.  Both are superb examples from the top cru, Grande Champagne.  Exciting times reporting Brandyclassics News.

    We are constantly striving to improve our range of single estate Hermitage Cognacs and the service which we offer. If you feel that we are fulfilling our aim, we would love to hear from you. Please leave us a Review on the Google Business page (Brandyclassics), Facebook page (Brandyclassics or Hermitage Cognacs) or tag a photo on Instagram.  We are also looking to post links on our website for suppliers and customers who would like to benefit from a two-way promotional initiative.  Please get in touch for more information.

  • New Hermitage Cognac Vintages

    Hermitage Cognac VintagesWe are always looking for more fantastic, single estate cognacs with age-statements to add to our Hermitage Cognac Vintages range and these latest three are really amazing:

    Hermitage 1923 was produced in a year when Warner Brothers was established, Insulin was first used to treat Diabetes and the refrigerator became available to buy in Sweden.  This wonderful cognac is from Grande Champagne and has a fine and intense rancio, the result of more than 60 years in an oak barrel.

    Hermitage 1945 was harvested the year that marked the end of the second World War.  It is beautifully balanced with flavours of lychee, passion fruit, rosemary, cocoa and a long grapefruit tail.

    And finally we also have a new vintage from Petite Champagne; Hermitage 1969 is an unusually fine, balanced and well-aged cognac from the heart of this amazing, but lesser known cru.

  • The Bottle Story - Laguille 2010 Bas Armagnac

    Armagnac producers Domaine Laguille have just released a Limited Edition of 350 bottles of their Laguille 2010 Bas Armagnac finished in a  whisky cask.  Following the latest trend by cognac producers to give their cognacs a ‘finish’, Laguille wants to show that even armagnac, the oldest French brandy of them all can move with the times.  Strict regulations state that armagnac must be aged in French oak – the oak barrel used had previously been used to age a peated scotch from the Isle of Mull.  The result is an armagnac with many of the peated notes associated with Scottish whisky.  It is hoped that this will appeal to different, younger audiences.  Laguille’s Commercial Director said “It’s now or never for armagnac.  It’s a time when people are looking for smaller productions and everyone speaks about craft.  It’s a moment that armagnac must not miss.  The problem with armagnac has never been the product.  The product is wonderful.  The problem is how to sell it and how to market it."

    The youngest vintage armagnac we sell is almost 20 years old and makes a good comparison:

  • Hermitage 2008 Grande Champagne Cognac - Too Good To Miss ....

    2008A truly amazing cognac; Hermitage 2008 Grande Champagne Cognac is an extraordinary and totally unique one in a million find. It’s rich, spicy and full of intrigue.  There are flavours of dates, cinnamon, toffee and pistachio as well as exotic tones of rambutan, mango and passion fruit with a tail of sweet oranges.  A masterpiece of the distiller's skills and the cellar master's experience, it was aged in a small barrique which had previously aged some very old and rare cognac.  Smooth and full of rich flavours, that are undeniably worthy of a much older cognac, yet this is only 10 years old.  There are less than 200 bottles available.  Great balance, pure magic.

    "For anyone looking for a very fine and special gift  .... the smallest glass is a sublime treat."  Victoria Moore, The Daily Telegraph

     

  • Best Cognac in Show - The Spirits Business 2018

    Best Cognac in ShowWhat a year!!  Not only have we received an unprecedented number of Gold and Gold Outstanding medals for our Hermitage Cognacs but our latest presentation, the Marie Louise Decanter, has just been declared 'Best Cognac in Show 2018' at The Spirits Business Cognac Masters 2018 out of over 130 entrants.  This amazing news follows hot on the heels of the IWSC 2018 Awards where we were also short listed for 'Brandy Producer of the Year'.

    This astonishing Marie Louise creation has been described as “lining one’s mouth with velvet” and is a precious and rare investment.  At 43% abv it has all the complex aromas and flavours one would expect from such a well-aged cognac.  It is offered in one litre decanters produced by Cumbria Crystal.  They are the last producer of completely hand-blown and hand-cut, full-lead luxury English crystal in the UK. The intensity and depth of flavours created by its careful distillation and ageing have created a masterpiece of smoothness and an intensely rich rancio found only in the rarest of cognacs. This truly great cognac is named after Marie Louise, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She bore his son who was given the title 'Roi de Rome' and who later became Napoleon II.

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