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  • Father's Day Gifts - So Many To Choose From ...

    Father's Day GiftsWe have a fantastic range of cognacs, armagnacs and calvados, any one of which would make the perfect present this Father’s Day.  Vintages from 1930 – 2000 let you select the one that’s most meaningful.  How about Dad’s year of birth?  Or what about your year of birth?

    Whichever you choose, vintage brandies are gifts that keep on giving.  Dad will be able to savour his delicious amber nectar on many occasions, keeping it for as long as he wishes.

    And if you’re running out of time to buy your Father’s Day Gift, don’t panic.  Your order will be delivered the following day (if placed before noon) or you can select Saturday delivery.

  • 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.

  • Hermitage Cognac Quality Control

    There are approximately 5000 producers of cognac in the legal production area of France known as The Charentes and Charentes Maritime. Each one of them, quite naturally, believes that their cognacs are the best. The truth, however, is rather different.  Producers don’t advertise their presence so most have probably only ever tasted different cognacs in bars and restaurants. Indeed, I have spoken to some producers who didn’t even know that they had a distillery next door.  This lack of local industry awareness has, over the years, resulted in the development of our own cognac quality control.

    There are of course standards to which all cognac houses must rigidly adhere.  Variations in the product occur naturally with changes in the terroir, vines, distillation, cellars etc.  These changes can dramatically change the quality of each cognac.  As a rule, the higher the cru, the better the cognac, but one cannot rely on this as a guarantee of quality.

    As negoçiants we try to limit the cognacs we buy to those produced in the top cru, Grande Champagne. Here, hundreds of cognacs are produced, and each has a different taste, age, style, colour, method of production, ageing process, strength and balance. On top of that, our customers have varying tastes and needs and we try to accommodate them all. Finding the right cognacs is objective since we have our own cognac quality control standards which we have developed over the years.  These standards are not necessarily subjective however, since more than a third of all our cognacs have won gold medals or above in cognac competition.

    Cognac Quality ControlMaking sure that our customers really do get the best means that, after we have decided on a potential cognac, we still need to do several tests. The first is of course tasting. It is difficult to say how many cognacs we taste but on some days,  it may be twenty or even thirty, others, maybe only one or two.  One tends to gather considerable experience when tasting many different cognacs. Then we check the cognac for balance which means balancing the fieriness against flavour. Sometimes we need to reduce the cognac slightly which in some cases take quite a long time. We also check it for sediment as some distillers don’t filter their cognacs before we receive them at our bottling plant.  The alcohol level is also tested as legally, this must be quoted on the label.  This process also involves checking the level of obscuration (factors which mask the true alcohol content).  There is always some natural obscuration which cannot be avoided but in modern blends, the addition of sugar and caramel increases the level considerably.

    We really do try hard to provide our customers with the very best and we are proud of our collection of Hermitage Cognacs. Being a small, artisan producer is a huge benefit to everybody. If we were big, we would have to blend to supply cognacs with more commercial affordability.  Each cognac would lose its individuality and we would probably have to rely on younger cognacs to produce the required quantity.  We know Hermitage is always the best cognac available for our customers’ needs but it can be difficult to easily communicate that with every bottle we sell.

  • USA Shipping of Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados

    Due to the alcohol laws in America, the States that we can ship our brandies to have recently changed.USA Shipping

     

    USA Shipping is ALLOWABLE to the following States.  Delivery usually takes 5 working days.

    California              Connecticut            Delaware                                Florida    

    Idaho                      Louisiana                Maine                                       Maryland

    Massachusetts    Nebraska                New Jersey                              New Mexico

    New York              Oregon                    Rhode Island                           Texas (7 – 10 days)

    Vermont                Virginia                   Washington District of Columbia          Wyoming 

     

  • Innovative Cork Stoppers New to the Marketplace

    Cork stoppersSustainable and taint-free corks are the latest innovations to hit the ‘spirit stoppers’ market.  Distillery by-products such as grape marc from cognac, barley malt from whisky and juniper from gin make up 50% of the raw materials used to produce ‘Abor’ corks.  Manufacturers, the Tapi Group, are “seeking to create brand awareness in an eco-sustainable way” with their ‘green’ and sustainable new closures.  Cork Supply, by contrast, have just released a range of ‘taint-free’ corks with a money-back guarantee.  Their vision was to “produce quality closures that add value to the industry”; taint-free cork stoppers will surely have a place in the world of cognac.  Unlike wine, cognac should always be stored in an upright position to minimise any effect the cork might have on the spirit liquid and vapours - a problem that can occur, especially in older vintages.

  • The Charente Scene - Bisquit Sold

    BisquitAlexandre Bisquit established his famous cognac trading house in Jarnac in 1819.  When his daughter married Adrien Dubouché in 1848, his son-in-law’s name was added to the firm. It remained in family hands until the mid-60s when it was sold to Paul Ricard.  Latterly it was owned by Distell but earlier this year it was sold again, to the Campari group, for over 50 million Euros.  In many ways the purchase of Bisquit Dubouché by M. Ricard was the start of the firm’s real growth.  Not only did he buy the biggest chateau in the region, with more than 200 hectares of vines, he also built a massive distillery at Lignères which had 64 stills.  Bisquit cognacs have quite a nutty and fruity style which is admired by many in the industry (compare with our Hermitage 20 yo GC Cognac).  As with most of the medium to large-sized houses, their need for more cognacs grew over the years so they also buy in wine and ‘eau de vie’. What a shame that another cognac house has gone to one of the multi-faceted “sell it all” groups.

  • 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.

  • Cognac and Chocolate - Food Pairing

    chocolate and chocolateFood pairing is all the rage right now, including with cognac.  Hennessy have created a whole dining experience to enjoy their latest cognac blend with a 4-course meal.  We never recommend doing this with vintage cognac but as a digestif, it does bring a special enjoyment.  Some cognacs have complimentary flavours which go well with after dinner courses, such as coffee (see The Bottle Story).  Chocolate is another post-dinner treat and also has flavours found in cognac, as reported recently by ‘The Telegraph’.  Our Hermitage Provenance 30 would be an excellent accompaniment with its rich flavours of chocolate and natural toffee.  But choose your chocolate carefully too.  Recently produced in Ecuador, To’ak is a top quality, vintage, dark chocolate which has been aged for 2 years in cognac barrels.  It may be utterly delicious but we’ve never known chocolate to improve with age!

  • Super XXO Cognac Classification Approved

    XXO CognacThe big cognac houses are well aware of the similarity of their products so the need to spice up their ranges is always evident. We have seen recently the efforts by some to add a cask finish to their cognacs; sherry casks have already been used by one house.  But the latest craze is to try and produce a super XO cognac called XXO.  Hennessy, who have the biggest sales of XO cognacs, have already launched an XXO in the Far East.  They tried to register it as a Hennessy name thereby denying other houses the opportunity to use the term.  Unsurprisingly, other cognac growers were far from happy but after debate, an agreement has been reached allowing anybody to use the term for their super XOs.  Apparently, these new XXO cognacs will have to be aged for a minimum of 14 years. This seems a strange period to select since many of the smaller houses make XO cognacs up to 20 years old. It took a quarter of a century to change the XO definition from 6 to 10 years, perhaps it will take another 25 years to officially recognise this new, super appellation?  It’s an interesting point since many years ago, Brandyclassics negotiated with Otard to launch a super XXO cognac to the Chinese market.  It failed not because we couldn’t use the title, but because the Chinese customer thought it too flashy!

  • Bartenders Champion Old Vintage Cognac

    Old Vintage CognacVintage cocktails, made from rare and very old vintage cognac, are trending …… they are also extremely expensive!  Interest began with the World’s most expensive cocktail which was created in 2012 and sold for £5500.  It contained a 1788 Cognac, 1770 Liqueur and 1860 Orange Curacao.  Similar concoctions can now be bought at the very best bars in the Old Vintage Cognacworld for similarly handsome prices.

    Cheltenham Festival also followed suit this year producing a cocktail containing 1937 Delord Armagnac, in memory of Golden Miller, Gold Cup winner 1932 – 1936.

    Very old (pre-Phylloxera) cognacs and Armagnacs are, by definition, incredibly rare but those that design these hedonistic cocktail treats feel that they are essential components, creating complexity and length not found in today’s spirits.  These qualities are the very reason most would hopefully choose to drink them unadulterated - but single shots of very old vintage brandies do not come cheap either.  Last month the world’s most expensive cognac measure (40 ml) was sold for £10,000.  Perhaps not as unreasonable as it sounds when some of our very old cognac bottles retail at over £20,000 each.  Value is generated not only by the quality of the cognac itself, but in the story of its provenance too.

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