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Brandy Bottle Reviews

  • 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 FavraudA 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.

  • The Bottle Story - Camus XO Family Reserve

    Camus XO - the Bottle StoryDoes this bottle shape remind you of something?  It looks remarkably like the iconic Louis XIII Cognac presentation from Remy Martin to us!  So why would Camus choose to put their latest release in a copy of such a well-known carafe?  Perhaps they are hoping it will make consumers look twice?  The new Camus XO presentation also contains a new product.  Still blended, and only aged for a minimum of 6 years, this release comes from a single estate in the Borderies cru.  Although only the 3rd cognac cru, Borderies can produce some wonderfully flavoured cognac.  But in our experience, this only occurs after decades of ageing - take our Hermitage 1914 for example.

  • New Hermitage Cognac Celebration Vintages

    Hermitage Cognac Celebration VintagesWe are really looking forward to 2018 as two more Hermitage celebration vintages are added to our stores. An exceptional Borderies 1958 cognac was the first to arrive and it has just been joined by a rare, Grande Champagne gem from 1938. Wonderful, single estate, vintage cognacs but particularly special for those with a 60th or 80th celebration this year.

    The full range of Hermitage celebration vintages comprises:

    1928, 1938, 1948, 1958, 1988, with 1968 arriving next month.

    And if it’s armagnac you’re after, we have the following vintages in stock:

    1918, 1928, 1938, 1948, 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, & 1998

  • Olly Smith recommends Brandyclassics

    Hermitage Provenance 10 - Olly SmithThe Mail on Sunday's drinks writer and well known TV personality, Olly Smith, has featured a few products from the Brandyclassics website in his column over recent months.  He began with recommending our Hermitage Provenance 10 Cognac for Bonfire Night suggesting that one should "Dive into this liquid flame, whose quality will set your very soul alight".  He is not the only one to enjoy this wonderful cognac.  It has been flying off our shelves ever since!

    With Christmas approaching Olly moved into our Armagnac range.  Firstly he advocated the ever popular Delord 20 Year Old Bas Armagnac describing it as his Top Pick - "plums and almonds rolled in cinnamon, the scent of sheer Christmas!".  A long time favourite of ours this Armagnac is pleasingly presented in a green basquaise bottle.Blanche de Cassagnoles - Olly Smith

    And finally last weekend, he chose to feature our Blanche de Cassagnoles.  A white armagnac from the Tenareze region it has beautiful prune flavours despite the water-clear appearance.  Ideal for Christmas cocktails, flambés and other sorts of cooking.

  • Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise

    Crystal Decanter CognacOur latest release, Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise, is a 60-Year-Old Grande Champagne from one of the region’s top artisan producers. This astonishing 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 a limited first run of 50 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.

    Victoria MooreOur finest release to date, Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise made it into the Saturday Telegraph two months in a row.  Initially, on 4 November, Victoria Moore wrote a fascinating piece about our MD, David Baker, Hermitage Cognacs and of course Cognac Marie Louise.  On 2 December she included details of the wonderful 60 plus year old cognac in the Luxury supplement.

    Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise is available from Hedonism Wines, Corney and Barrow, Chelsea Vintners and our Brandyclassics website and is proving to be a real hit this Christmas.    

  • The Bottle Story - Hardy Legend 1863

    Hardy 1863 is not pre-PhylloxeraThe name 'Hardy Legend 1863' sounds as if it is an exceedingly valuable pre-Phylloxera cognac from the nineteenth century.  (The Phylloxera outbreak swept through French vineyards in about 1875).  Cognacs produced before this time were made with Folle Blanche and Colombard grapes.  Today they are extremely rare and valuable.  The name of this new, US release refers to the year the firm Hardy was established.  The bottle contains cognac aged for up to 12 years and is a blend of Petite Champagne and Borderies.  It is made from the more modern Ugni Blanc grapes.  Still a family firm, A Hardy has been around a long time.  This bottle costs about £50 so do not be duped into thinking it is a bargain from years ago - our pre-Phylloxera cognacs retail at £6000 upwards.  Compare it also to our single estate, Grande Champagne 10 Year Old Cognac, Hermitage Provenance 10, which is priced at just £46 a bottle.

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