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News

  • US Presidential Spirits Collection

    US Presidential CollectionA unique collection of ‘Presidential Spirits’ was put up for auction in New York recently. The Lot comprised 39 bottles of cognac and armagnac each dating to a US Presidential term of office from 1789 to 1977. Part of a larger Dutch collection, the Lot included cognacs from 1789 (George Washington), 1842 (John Tyler) and 1865 (Abraham Lincoln). The US Presidential connection with cognac comes from events throughout history. The Marquis de Lafayette brought cognac when he crossed the Atlantic to assist George Washington in America’s fight for Independence and Thomas Jefferson developed an appreciation for cognac when witnessing the onset of the French Revolution. Architect of the European Union and scion of the famous cognac family, Jean Monnet served as an advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt and it was reported that General (and future President) Dwight Eisenhower sipped Cognac with Winston Churchill, as they planned the D-Day invasion that would liberate France during World War II. All pre-Phylloxera cognacs are steeped in history, not only in the origins of each bottle but also in the historical events occurring at the time of their distillation. Take a look at our specialist range of ‘Very Old Cognacs' to find out more.

  • 'Craft Cognac' Supplied Here

    Craft CpgnacCraft Beer and Craft Gin have been taking the drinks industry by storm so what about Craft Cognac? The term Craft is used to describe ‘beers and spirits that are hand-made in smaller batches, with superior ingredients by people who are passionate about quality’ - the definition describes Hermitage Cognacs perfectly! We have worked for more than a quarter of a century with master distillers in the finest cru, Grande Champagne. Their years of dedication and unyielding passion for an art form born out of history continues to produce some of the finest Craft Cognacs ever. Each one of our cognacs is crafted to provide an experience so different from the big commercial brands that our customers are able to recognise the individual flavours and styles, the vintages and ages and the elegance and maturity of every Hermitage Premier Cru Single Estate Cognac. It’s definitely time that Cognac joined the Craft movement!

     

  • The Charente Scene - Summer 2016

    The Charente SceneWe have come to expect the Charente to have relatively calm and normal weather at this time of the year but heavy rain and hail storms have hit the region, as they did 2 years ago. The storms, which caused much damage and flooding in Paris, went through Grande Champagne in a north easterly direction. The vines in Gimeux were wiped out by hailstones the size of one’s fist and it has been estimated by the BNIC that between 12 – 15% of the total region was damaged. Although the storms have had a significant effect, they are not expected to have created a crisis since the top cru, Grande Champagne, has been producing greater quantities of wine in recent years. It now has about 75,000 hectares of vines planted which provide around 750,000 hectolitres of pure alcohol. To put it another way, sufficient to make around 25 million bottles of cognac, some of which may not mature until 2100!

  • English Grape Brandy

    Chapel Down, the highly successful English wine producer, has just released a 23-Year-Old Grape Brandy made from grapes grown in Kent. The spirit was distilled in 1992 and then aged in French oak. According to one spirits writer it has “all the hallmarks of a complex armagnac or calvados but with its own personality”. By definition brandy is a spirit made from a fruit. Just like Chapel Down, armagnac and cognac are brandies made from grapes but they each have to be made under very strict conditions. Most importantly the grapes must be grown in one of the designated cru regions before being distilled according to their respective regulations. Brandy made in the UK is therefore a rarity. All the cognacs, armagnacs and calvados that we supply are produced and aged entirely in France, with one notable exception – ‘Early Landed’. Some smaller houses ship their barrels of young ‘eau de vie’ to the UK to be aged in cellars here. British cellars are colder and drier than French ones so the barrels absorb more of the spirit but the system saves money and sees some fine products such as Hine and Delamain cognacs being bottled in the UK. Not sure that the Chapel Down Grape Brandy will be able to compete with these fine nectars but hopefully the British will support this initiative rather than see it shipped to China along with most other grape brandies.

  • World's Oldest Cognac in a Watch

    Swiss watchmaker, Armin Strom, has teamed up with Wealth Solutions (known for its management of exceptional luxury products) to produce a timepiece containing what is thought to be the world’s oldest cognac sold at auction. The Armin Strom Manual Cognac Watch contains drops of 1762 cognac in a sealed sapphire crystal disc that can be seen on the watch face. The Cognac in a Watch idea was the brainchild of Armin Strom’s head watchmaker, Claude Greisler, who devised the concept. Previously Armin Storm have produced watches containing parts of Formula 1 cars! The cognac-filled capsule  is positioned at 5 o’clock on the dial and on the back, there is a hand engraved design of grapes. A limited edition of 40 watches has been produced, in either stainless steel, 18 carat rose gold or titanium cases and will be sold exclusively through Wealth Solutions. Whilst the timekeeping of such a stunning work of craftmanship will no doubt be perfect, it is difficult to say what part of the ‘solution’ the addition of very old cognac will play!

    The oldest cognac we currently have in stock is a Jules Robin 1789 - now that really is a work of art.

  • Brandyclassics Trade Training and Technical Topics

    HC Trade TrainingProviding Training for the Trade is a very important part of life at Brandyclassics and we are always looking to improve our service in this area. Following on from the monthly Technical Topics David has been publishing, we now have a dedicated area on our website for Brandyclassics Trade Training. You will find it on the drop down menu of our Information section. Links in the text will provide more detailed information and these will be updated monthly. Please take a look, it is designed to help train you and your staff so any feedback would be welcome.

    Recently published Technical Topics cover:

    • Cognac Terroir
    • Cognac Vines
    • Cognac Wines

    You can find them on the Information (Brandy Education) page.

  • Cognac Popularity Increases

    The cognac regulatory board (BNIC) has just announced that there was record growth in 2015, with exports reaching a historical high, both in terms of volume and value. An exceptional performance in each of cognac's major markets, but especially North America, accounts for these results. The Far East, particularly China, renewed its growth and exports to Europe stabilised. New markets in South Africa and Australia continued to grow and together, now account for more than 6% of all global exports by volume. Cognac is certainly making a positive contribution to French trade figures. A record year in both volume and value, the industry now accounts for 20% of all French wine and spirits exports.  It cannot go unnoticed that the increase of cognac popularity is spreading worldwide. We should expect our customers to originate from any one of the world’s populated continents.

  • Cognac Houses Address Climate Change

    As temperatures steadily rise across the globe, the knock on effect of climate change on viticulture is being felt by all wine producers. In the Cognac region it has been found that during the last 30 years, a 1°C increase in the maximum daytime temperature during the growing period of the vine has resulted in a 10 day advancement of the harvest. Whilst harvesting early has so far been successful, temperature increases also compromise the acid levels in the grapes (high acidity is essential for cognac production.) Longer term a different solution must be found so some of the big houses have got together to try and find one. Currently the majority of vineyards are planted with Ugni Blanc, a grape known for its high acidity levels, so a new grape variety, Monbadon, is now being trialled. Monbadon is known to have a higher level of acidity and lower level of alcohol than Ugni Blanc but it should have a similar aromatic profile and harvest later. Due to the ageing process of cognac, the overall experiment will take nine years but it is in 30 years’ time that the solution will be required, when global warming will have made a real impact.  Hermitage Cognacs are hand selected to take advantage of careful harvesting and ageing processes used during their production.

  • Definition of XO to Change

    The proposed rule for changing the minimum age of XO cognacs, set to come into operation in 2016, from the current age of 6 ½ years to 10 years has now been postponed until 2018. This change to a more realistic minimum age was first discussed nearly twenty years ago and various dates have been set for the change since. A shortage of 10 year old stock has been cited as the reason for the delay. Even though demand has slowed recently for the more expensive cognacs in China, it has increased in other markets, especially America. When and if the definition of XO changes in 2018, it will undoubtedly have an effect on the prices of XO cognacs which are likely to increase substantially.  So, take a look at our range of hand-picked XOs, they might not be around for long.

  • Cognac Gift Presentation and New Armagnac Vintages

    Lots of new stock has arrived on our shelves during the last month. An exciting new concept for the cognac connoisseur is a Cognac Gift Presentation offering 2 x 20cl bottles of very special old cognacs. Enough to try, enjoy and share with a friend and the perfect way to sample some of the very best the Charente has to offer.

    We also have a brand new Hermitage Cognac 1976 distilled 40 years ago. This vintage is proving to be exceptionally rare so we don’t expect our stock to be on the shelves for long!

    In addition, we have taken delivery of some new armagnac vintages including the very popular 1986, 1976 and 1966 from 30, 40 and 50 years ago respectively.

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