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Hermitage 25 Year old Arrives

We are very proud of our new addition to the Hermitage range as single estate Grande Champagne cognacs have become a rarity and to find a naturally aged 25 year old is very special indeed.  Cognacs that have aged for this period of time in oak casks build a level of complexity which exhibits the distiller’s style and passion for his work.  This cognac is indeed very special since it comes from the very heart of the top cru and is made by one of the finest distillers in the industry.  The complex aromas and flavours include citrus peel and dried nuts, qualities characteristic of Grande Champagne as well as guava, passion fruit, kumquats and light spices.  The cognac is currently supplied in the much admired ‘Exception’ bottle.

Martell XO Exclusive Architect Edition

It is always difficult to try and understand how the big cognac houses perceive their customers loyalty to their products. Clearly brand loyalty is a powerful tool, but one has to ask how many XO products it is possible to launch on the market before questions get asked about what they are really buying.

The new Christian de Portzamparc exclusive XO will only be available in the Far East. It is said to be a blend of some of their older cognacs and almost certainly contains some from the Merinvil cellars they aquired a few years ago, where there were over 15,000 hl of pure spirit, some dating back to 1800.

But what then is the customer getting? Without being too cynical about Martell’s new cognac, the real answer is that there really is nothing new between this and hundreds of other XO cognacs. They are still multi blends of cognacs of various ages which professsionally an expert might be able to detect the difference, but which everybody else who buys this cognac will only recognise by the different presentation at an inflated price. Perhaps this is the reason why the flavour is not described any more!

Brandyclassics have extensive tasting notes on all of the brandies, cognacs and armagnacs we sell, whether they are from our exclusive Hermitage Cognac range or one of the many other small exclusive producers we support.

The Brandy Bottle – Hermitage 1988 Grande Champagne

We probably wouldn’t be shouting about this cognac just yet but it is worth mentioning since it has just won a Masters medal at the Cognac Masters Competition.

The Cognac was distilled close to Ambleville in Grande Champagne and has been kept in damp cellars. The cognac has been aged in Limousin oak barrels for more than 20 years and it has developed a lovely light citric and floral aroma with dry apricot and some honey flavours. It is a light coloured cognac with colours of light straw and gold providing a most unusual combination of finesse and delicacy.

There is very little of this precious cognac available with only about 600 litres left. This cognac provides a wonderful introduction to the cognacs produced in this region. It is an excellent example, displaying the characteristic common to cognacs produced in this area.  Our Score 9/10

This bottle sold so well that unfortunately we are now out of stock, but we have a very nice 1988 Chez Richon that you might like to try…


The Brandy Bottle – Nusbaumer Supreme de Cassis

As a bit of interesting deviation from the cognacs and armagnacs we normally feature here, we thought it might be worthwhile tasting the macerated fruit eau de vie often used with wine, champagne or in cooking when a strong blackcurrant flavour is desired.

The Nusbaumer Supreme de Cassis is without doubt one of the very finest cassis we have tasted. The blackcurrant flavour is intense and has been describes as even stronger than blackcurrants themselves. It is truly delicious and poured over desserts such as ice crème is enchanting. Nusbaumer also have a number of other macerated fruit eaux de vie including the sour cherry Ratafia de Griottes and the unusual Red Pear, “Williams Rouge”, which has been aged for 20 years. They provide a reasonably priced liqueur which can be served in many ways. Our Score 7/10



The Brandy Bottle – Hermitage 1900 Grande Champagne

Finding a good 1900 these days is becoming a real trial and we have tasted many that are way off the mark in both style and balance. So we were over the moon when we found one we liked from a cellar in Bouteville between Segonzac and Chateauneuf in Grande Champagne.

Moreover we have discovered that there is more than two hundred litres available to us. The cognac has been kept in cellars and in Limousin cask for more than 50 years and has matured slowly providing a relatively complex cognac and stylish cognac. It was made on 25 hltr stills and judged good enough to take out of wood around the mid 1950’s. The cognac has a powerful attack of dry and fruity flavours with a complexity of spices and green walnuts. It is sold at 47.5% alc so it is quite strong but the flavour is good and lasting. It’s a winner! Our Score 9/10




The Brandy Bottle – Monteru Eau de Vie No1

During our travels in Cognac we often come across and taste new products, this time it’s with a difference. Monteru ‘Eau de Vie No 1 Original’ is double distilled in the traditional manner, but from specific grape varietal wines. Intended to be complementary to cognac rather than to compete, there are a number of grape varieties to choose from. We’ve sampled the Merlot and Chardonnay.

Light in colour and with a pleasant aroma that reflected the individual grape of the base wine, we were intrigued to see what flavours would be within. However, as sometimes happens, the anticipation was better than the event itself and they turned out to be rather disappointing. Their texture is a little thin and the flavour is all at the front of the palate. We prefer fruit based eau de vie and traditional cognac to this new enterprise. Our Score 2/10



The Brandy Bottle – Hermitage 1914 Borderies

It is perhaps something of a rare treat to find a Borderies cognac, let alone a decent Borderies cognac. Most of the nutty and rich toffee eaux de vie are snapped up by Martell and Hennessy, who have always tried to get all there is from this tiny cru.

Some of the cognacs produced here are legendary with their dark toffee and nutty flavours. The soil here has a more clay type structure with a shale layer, but the climate is probably more temperate than the Champagnes.

The Hermitage 1914 Borderies Cognac has aged in oak for more than 70 years and is now in bonbonnes safely stored in our cellars. The cognac has been reduced by about 1.5% and now has a strength of 44.3% and will be bottled at that. It is a little spicy, has a rancio and long powerful tones. We love this rare cognac. Our score 8/10


The Brandy Bottle – Hermitage 1999 Grande Champagne

It is always difficult to highlight one of our own cognacs, but we believe rightly that all cognacs are reviewed under an equal status, no matter whose label is on the bottle. The 1999 was introduced initially as a first young vintage, but in 2009 it was decided that we needed to sell a 2000 as a more attractive vintage for 2010. We currently have about 600 bottles remaining, but at present the current saleable stock of the 2000 vintage is now less than 200 bottles after a Russian order has absorbed 150 of them! A new 2000 will be available in about a year’s time.

The 1999 has all the characteristics of the 2000 but is very marginally sweeter. The coffee and mocha qualities are all there and its balance is quite extraordinary for such a young cognac and to prove it, it won a gold medal in the Cognac Masters – another great cognac! Our score 8/10


The Brandy Bottle- Delord 20y.o. Bas Armagnac

Sometimes in summer we think of more fruity drinks and with the lower distillation range of 52 – 72 degrees there is ample scope to develop the plummy flavours of good armagnac. Delord have a superb range of vintage armagnacs, but like so many armagnac houses they have recognised that these vintages will one day run out. The firm is determined to state ages on their bottles, and we have chosen the 20 year old Bas Armagnac to test.

One can never be entirely happy with the concept of blending brandies together, as variations can occur that create differences in flavour. But somehow Delord have not only prevented any such variations but have also made a thouroughly pleasant Armagnac with distinctive pruney and roasted walnut flavours. Delord have always been one of our favourites, this is no exception.  Our score 8/10


The Brandy Bottle – Hermitage 43 y.o. Grande Champagne Cognac

The 43 year old Grande Champagne Cognac by Hermitage is probably going to be of the finest in our history. It is produced from vineyards around Segonzac in the very centre of Grande Champagne. The distillers have four large stills with 123 hectares of vineyards around Segonzac and based in key areas where the very finest conditions exist. The grape variety is all Ugni Blanc. Their main cellars are quite large and are on two levels each containing probably several thousand 350 litre barrels. The walls of the cellars are thick and the lower floor is below ground level allowing good damp conditions for storage. This cognac is exceptional. It has a huge complexity of flavours including, melon, mangosteen, kumquats orange peel, spices and roasted nuts.

We know of little better, this is a truly great cognac. Our score 9/1t0