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Brandy Bottle Reviews

  • IWSC 2018 Gold Outstanding Medal Winners

    IWSC 2018Another fantastic result for the Hermitage stable as three of our newest additions are awarded prestigious medals at this year's International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC 2018).  GOLD OUTSTANDING Medals were received by our latest vintages:

     

    Hermitage 1948 Grande Champagne Cognac.  Judges comments: "On the palate this cognac is extremely rich and concentrated.  Perfectly balanced."

    Hermitage 1944 Grande Champagne Cognac.  Judges comments: "Absolutely superb!  Do not wait to drink this."

     

    All three of our winners are from the top cru as a GOLD Medal was also awarded to the Hermitage 30 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac.  Judges comments: "Powerful yet elegant on the palate.  Very complex, very long finish."

  • Hermitage 1944 Grande Champagne Cognac

    1944 GC CognacWe are really excited about the latest Hermitage 1944 Cognac to make it onto our shelves.

     

    Distilled almost 75 years ago and aged for more than half a century, the Hermitage 1944 Grande Champagne Cognac is truly wonderful.  It has a rich complexity of aromas and flavours which last for ages on the palate and they are all wrapped up in a rich rancio .... what more could you wish for?

     

    This really is a little bit of cognac heaven.

  • The Bottle Story - Comandon 2012 Cognac

    Comandon 2012 CognacThis is a very young, vintage cognac (aged for 3 years) but with an interesting history.

     

    It was produced to mimic the pre-Phylloxera style; that is using the single grape variety Folle Blanche from the Bon Bois cru.  It is also a single cask vintage with a higher that average alcohol content at 41.3% (although pre-Phylloxera cognacs were often left at cask strength).  The Folle Blanche today accounts for only 10% of grapes grown in the region as the majority were decimated in the pre-Phylloxera outbreak and the rootstocks now in use are better suited to cropping Ugni Blanc grapes.  Cognacs from Bon Bois are also now much less popular as even the big houses tend to look no further afield than Fin Bois.  That said, the Comandon 2012 Cognac is an interesting idea, which we will sadly probably never get to taste, as only 120 bottles were produced for the American market

  • Enjoying Pineau des Charentes This Summer

    Pineau des CharentesPineau des Charentes is a combination of freshly pressed grape juice and cognac. It comes in two colours, white and red (sometimes known as rosé) and as with cognac, the flavour is affected by its age.  Young Pineau is fruity and light whilst older Pineau offers more complex and concentrated flavours with distinctive fresh fruit tones morphing into dried fruit and nuts.  Produced exclusively in France's Cognac region, it has been protected under AOC status since 1945.  As a result, this spirited wine benefits from the long-standing expertise and historical know-how of Cognac cellar-masters.  It is unique with its aromatic palette and versatility.  Wine drinkers are seduced by white Pineau’s balanced profile, while others prefer the generosity of red. Both are food-friendly and pair perfectly with savoury dishes such as fish, white meats or seafood.  Pineau’s lightness and alcohol content of 17%, also make it suitable as a digestive or aperitif.  While some relish old reds that pair beautifully with chocolate, light cheese, and coffee, others fall for aged whites as great partners of blue cheeses. Alternatively, when summer has arrived, it can be enjoyed at any time as a long, refreshing cocktail such as Pineau Royale or Pinojito.

  • Ageing Larsen Cognac At Sea

    Fort BoyardAnother company seeking to recreate a cognac from a past era (see The Bottle Story) is Larsen.  A barrel of their 40 year old Cognac has been transported to a 20-metre-high sea fort, at the mouth of the River Charentes, where it will remain for several months. The aim is to replicate the ageing conditions that Cognac would have undergone hundreds of years ago and see how maritime weather affects the finished product.   Larsen’s Cellar Master said: “Traditionally, in the 18th and 19th centuries, shallow boats were loaded with barrels of Cognac before crossing oceans to markets all over the world.  The sea and sea travel had an unquestionable influence on the final ageing of the eaux-de-vie.”  This barrel will form part of Larsen’s new ‘Hymne au Voyage’ range, which aptly translates as ‘tribute to travel’.  Although this latest idea has been dubbed experimental, remember that ‘early landed’ cognacs, which mature in UK cellars, have also made a sea voyage to their final ageing destination.

  • Brandy Bottle Valuation

    Brandy Bottle ValuationWe often have requests to do a Brandy Bottle Valuation and whilst sometimes a bottle can have a high value, most brandy valuations will disappoint most people.

     

    The term brandy is generic and covers any alcoholic drink reduced or distilled from a fruit. This includes Spanish brandies, grappa, marc and grape brandy (which can be used for semi-production purposes, for example fortifying port or sherry). This group of brandies will usually include the name brandy on the bottle but by law cannot include the names armagnac, calvados or cognac. If no identifying descriptions appear on the label we can assume it is a grape brandy which is not controlled by an authority and has minimal value.

     

    The main French brandies have tight controls on their production and storage.  For this reason, we know that if a bottle is labelled cognac, armagnac or calvados it will have been produced and aged in the approved manner.

     

    Cognac ageing to its optimum quality in oak casks can take many years.  In the case of cognacs from the top crus this can be up to 90 years.  Armagnacs and calvados take rather less time. The requirement for this long barrel ageing increases its cost of production and therefore value.  New oak casks cost around 700 euros each and storing the older casks, used for extensive ageing, requires sizeable, quality cellars.  On the other hand, grape brandies may only be aged for a year and heavily diluted with water.  Consequently, even quite good grape brandies only cost a couple of euros per litre to produce.

    1887 Favraud

    A highly valued cognac, armagnac or calvados will have one of these appellations named on the label together with an age statement or vintage.  The level of the brandy in the bottle, the quality of the seal, the shape, size and type of bottle, the colour and the clarity of the spirit are also important. Then of course there is the name of the producer or negoçiant and the region where the brandy was produced.  Much information about its value can be gained by knowing how it was distilled, the quality of the strata and sub-strata as well as the cellar in which it was aged.  If the bottle owner can provide a provenance for it, that also helps.

     

    If, on the other hand, your old bottle of brandy that has been stored for the last 50 years, does not mention cognac, armagnac or calvados on the label and does not provide an age statement of any sort, I am afraid that your bottle will be virtually worthless. It is also worth noting that retail values of old brandies are more than twice the trade or auction values since it can take many years to sell even a top quality bottle of fine cognac.

     

    If you have a bottle of brandy that you would like valued, please refer to our Valuation Service which can be found on the home page of our website.

  • Cognac Masters Medals 2018 - Master and Gold

    Cognac Masters MedalsWe are delighted to announce that three of our Hermitage Cognacs range were awarded medals at the recent Spirits Business Cognac Masters Competition.  Almost 40% of our Hermitage range now have a Masters or Gold Medal.

    Our highly-prized Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise was presented with a Masters Medal in the Vintage - Single Estate category.  The judges commented that “when a cognac is done well, it is exceptionally good at ageing”.

    Gold Medals were also awarded to two other vintages.  Our Hermitage 45 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac clearly wowed the judges as well as ourselves, as did the Hermitage 1958 Borderies Cognac.  The judges particularly enjoyed the “toffee, tobacco and toast” aromas which led to “bread, peach and butterscotch” on the palate.

  • The Bottle Story - Renault Avec Cognac

    Coffee cognacWe were disappointed to read earlier this year that Cognac Renault has created ‘a new innovation - an expression specifically designed to pair with coffee’ - called Renault Avec.  Quite simply this is not the case. Hermitage Cognac launched its Café 20 Cognac in the Autumn of 2016 and it is already well established in the marketplace as a coffee accompaniment.   Provenance is not the only difference.  Renault have blended cognacs from 3 different crus aged between 3 and 8 years.  They are ‘not attempting to create a big, powerful cognac’ so have treated the barrels differently to affect the flavour.

    Hermitage Café 20 on the other hand, has flavours of mocha, coffee and roasted walnuts, comes from the top cru and has been aged for 20 years.

  • Hermitage 1968 Petite Champagne Cognac

    1968 CognacJust arrived - Hermitage 1968 Petite Champagne Cognac. The mid 1960s produced some excellent cognacs from Petite Champagne and this one is no exception.  It needs to stand for a few minutes for the aromas of hazelnuts, brioche, bananas and gooseberries to develop.  This is a lighter style cognac, exhibiting many flavours initially of roasted hazelnuts with brioche and a hint of lime.  These develop slowly with banana, blueberries and a hint of strawberries with the zest of lime influencing the tail.  Distilled 50 years ago, it is a very special treat for someone celebrating their half century in 2018.  Cognacs that have been aged for decades have some very special qualities to enjoy.

  • Two of the Very Best Cognacs from Hermitage

    Two of the best cognacsOur Cognac Buyer has been super busy recently and these latest additions to the Hermitage range are astonishingly good!  Both are from the top cru, Grande Champagne.  They are wonderful examples of spirit that has been aged naturally, in oak casks, for decades.  Indeed they are two of the best cognacs in our portfolio.

    Hermitage 1948 Grande Champagne Cognac has been in wood for more than half a century. Distilled 70 years ago it is remarkable, rich and complex and has developed a wonderful, rich rancio which lasts on the palate for a very long time.

    Hermitage 45 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac.  This is a cognac of great distinction which must not be hurried.  The many aromas and flavours need to be discovered slowly. Its intense rancio is worthy of an even older Grande Champagne cognac.

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