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News

  • For those turning 50, 70 or 80 years of age in 2020

    50, 70 & 80 years old in 2020Across our website we have very special gifts and present ideas for all years of birth but these latest vintage cognacs to arrive in the Hermitage range will be perfect for those celebrating 50, 70 or 80 years in 2020.

    From the top cru, Grande Champagne, comes Hermitage 1940 Cognac.  A beautifully balanced amber nectar, with aromas of chestnuts and truffles, it was produced in the year Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister and ordered the Dunkirk Evacuation.  Also from Grande Champagne comes Hermitage 1950 Cognac - a real joy to taste with flavours including plum crumble with a blood orange peel finish.

    Hermitage 1970 Fins Bois Cognac was harvested in the year Concorde made its first supersonic flight.  It is rare to find cognacs from the Fins Bois in the Hermitage range but this one is really very special.

  • Spirits Ingredients and Nutritional Information

    Spirits IngredientsThe trade association Spirits Europe has launched a new website giving consumers access to nutrition and spirits ingredients information on all spirit drinks legally sold in the EU.  The new site provides information on all of the EU’s 47 spirit drinks categories including cognac, armagnac and calvados  and can be found at www.responsibledrinking.eu .  Calorie information per 100ml and per serving size for each spirit is listed.  The ingredients, a full nutrition declaration (including allergens) and additional information on the production process are also included.  The website comes as part of the spirits industry’s endeavours to increase availability of nutrition and ingredients information and so deliver on the commitment submitted to the European Commission in 2018. This commitment to update Spirit Drinks Regulations aims to bring the industry in line with the 2009 Lisbon Treaty and with the developments in managing geographic indicators (GIs) for food products.  It also includes a pledge by the sector to make consumer information directly available from bottles via smartphone QR codes by 2022.  These European directives are far more progressive than those in the US where the Alcohol & Tobacco Trade & Tax Bureau is being heavily criticised for not making the display of nutritional information, including alcohol content, mandatory in its recent modernisation of alcohol labels.

  • The Charente Scene - Spring 2019

    Charente 2019Whilst in France recently, I found an air of wellbeing amongst the cognac producers of the Charente.  Last year’s super harvest, coupled with the current demand for cognac, means that their pockets are rather fuller than is usual for the season. That said, this year the harvest could already be in trouble as the region is experiencing some very hot weather. The grapes may have to be harvested early and their sugar content may also become too high.  In the town of Cognac I also found a new 5-star hotel with 2 restaurants and all the perks that go with 5-star luxury. The Chais Monnet Hotel is named after the ex-mayor of Cognac and founder of Monnet Cognac.  It will no doubt be popular with many visitors, but I will continue to stay at the Chateau L’Yeuse.   It is less than half the price of Chais Monnet and I enjoy the warmth and personality of its more intimate and peaceful surroundings.

  • Brandyclassics News - Spring 2019

    Brandyclassics NewsThe first quarter of 2019 has continued the way 2018 finished with press coverage in both The Spectator and The Sunday Times magazine, heralding the quality of the Hermitage Cognacs range.  Henry Jeffreys of the former, particularly enjoyed the Hermitage 45 Year Old and Will Lyons of the latter, was advocating our very special Hermitage 1893.  Both are superb examples from the top cru, Grande Champagne.  Exciting times reporting Brandyclassics News.

    We are constantly striving to improve our range of single estate Hermitage Cognacs and the service which we offer. If you feel that we are fulfilling our aim, we would love to hear from you. Please leave us a Review on the Google Business page (Brandyclassics), Facebook page (Brandyclassics or Hermitage Cognacs) or tag a photo on Instagram.  We are also looking to post links on our website for suppliers and customers who would like to benefit from a two-way promotional initiative.  Please get in touch for more information.

  • New Hermitage Cognac Vintages

    Hermitage Cognac VintagesWe are always looking for more fantastic, single estate cognacs with age-statements to add to our Hermitage Cognac Vintages range and these latest three are really amazing:

    Hermitage 1923 was produced in a year when Warner Brothers was established, Insulin was first used to treat Diabetes and the refrigerator became available to buy in Sweden.  This wonderful cognac is from Grande Champagne and has a fine and intense rancio, the result of more than 60 years in an oak barrel.

    Hermitage 1945 was harvested the year that marked the end of the second World War.  It is beautifully balanced with flavours of lychee, passion fruit, rosemary, cocoa and a long grapefruit tail.

    And finally we also have a new vintage from Petite Champagne; Hermitage 1969 is an unusually fine, balanced and well-aged cognac from the heart of this amazing, but lesser known cru.

  • Cognac Changes - it's Moving with the Times

    Cognac ChangesThe very strict regulations surrounding the production of cognac have been in place since the BNIC’s inception at the end of WWII.  However, recent changes in the economic and geographic environments are forcing these age-old practices to be reviewed.  Burgeoning exports have seen cognac sales increase for the last 4 years so cognac changes are afoot.  It has just been agreed that the area of vineyards in the appellation next year will rise by 3500 hectares(ha). This follows an increase of 1500 ha last year.  Global warming is also influencing vineyards across the country.  As temperatures rise the grapes ripen earlier and the harvest is brought forward.  In the cognac region there are consequences for the process that follows this earlier harvest.  Crushing the grapes and fermentation then take place when daytime temperatures are still too warm and night time temperatures are not low enough. If the temperature of the grape juice during fermentation exceeds 80 ˚F, the classic cognac taste will be distorted.  A new research laboratory has just been set up by China and France to investigate the creation of new grape varieties that are better adapted to climate change.  Some ‘super’ grapes, that are resistant to rot, have already been cultivated.  Perhaps they should also look to Japan who always have to cope with hot, moist conditions?  They employ innovative techniques such as wax paper hats over the bunches of fruit, plastic sheets to protect from excessive rainfall and fans to stimulate air conditioning.

  • The Price of Cognac History

    cognac historyM Restaurant has announced that it is to sell its bottle of 1894 cognac for over £6000 for a 25ml shot - that's the price of cognac history.  The bottle is reputedly the first blend ever produced by Jean Fillioux, who founded the Fillioux cognac house.  Snippets of history such as this are often priceless in the cognac world.  Over the years we have sold many such historically important bottles to luxury hotels in London.  The ultimate in super-premium spirits, these too have been sold by the measure for thousands of pounds.  But to command this sort of price tag, each must have a story attached.  Many were produced in the pre-Phylloxera era (pre 1875), when cognac production was considerably different from today, and produced by old family firms that may no longer be in existence.  The vintage may also be attached to an event in history, such as the beginning of the French revolution in 1789, which adds to its interest and value.  Selling very old cognac is a proven way of increasing bar takings but beware, establishing authenticity is a specialist business; we have been undertaking it for decades.

  • Mother's Day 2019 - Sunday 31st March

    Mother's DayMarch is very much the month for celebrations, not just Mother's Day 2019.

    The patron saint of Wales, Saint David, is remembered on the 1st of the month with the Irish Saint Patrick's Day being commemorated on the 17th.  Daffodils and shamrocks will no doubt be seen in abundance during their respective celebrations.

    Shrove Tuesday falls on the 5th of March when pancakes will be the order of the day.  Following the French tradition of flambéing crepes, how about serving yours with cognac or armagnac to light up the evening?!

    International Women’s Day is always on the 8th of March – a suitable precursor to Mother’s Day on Sunday 31st March – so March is a great month to celebrate the women in your life.  Cognac, often thought of as a man’s drink, is also enjoyed by many of our female customers.  Those who prefer a fruitier brandy will certainly be delighted with a bottle of our vintage armagnac.  We have every year of birth from 1928 to 2001 so it’s easy to buy an extra special Mother's Day Gift this year.

  • The Travel Retail Sector

    Travel Retail SectorCommonly known as ‘Duty Free’, the Travel Retail Sector has long been the testing ground for new brandy releases - presumably travelling customers are more adventurous than those shopping from home?  Often it is the packaging that is markedly different; the big houses like to involve famous artists in their limited edition, presentation designs.  Just recently though, we have seen a real change in approach from some of the smaller houses.  Prunier, one of the oldest independent cognac houses, has just released The Age Statement Collection.  It comprises 8 guaranteed age cognacs, from 10 to 80 years old. Prunier’s President said “Our commitment is to offer the most natural cognacs with no artificial colouring, no sugar and no added wood extract.  We are a very small company and perhaps make our cognac in old-fashioned ways, but we have a lot of experience in age statements and vintages and believe in being different.”  We could not have put that better ourselves!  It’s good to see another quality cognac house following in Hermitage’s footsteps, even if their price range of 130€ – 6999€ seems rather steep to us.

    Another new Duty Free product comes from William Grant & Sons who have, for the first time, released a range of cognacs.  They have teamed up with La Guilde du Cognac to produce a terroir driven collection.  Called the Single Village Collection, each bottle is in fact a vintage with the village of origin and cru designated on the label.  Clearly, William Grant’s have, like Hermitage, recognised the increasing desire of customers to know exactly what is in their bottle of cognac rather than accepting a generic blend.  The marketing is clever using a new expression ‘single village’ to describe the purity of its product and it is interesting that 4 of the cognac crus, rather than just the top 2, have been represented.  And it is not just cognac that is testing the Travel Retail Sector.  Calvados producers 30&40 have also created a new range of limited edition, single cask, products.  Each is described by its cru and age meaning that they are all calvados fermier - spirits made entirely by a single farmer.  We are delighted to see the travel retail market moving in this direction.  Numbers on bottles has been our mantra for over a quarter of a century.

  • The Importance of the Cognac Cellars

    Cognac CellarsThe concept of barrel ageing is said to have been conceived by wine merchants when shipping their wines from the harbour at La Rochelle. The weak and commonly sweet wines that were shipped along the Charente from Cognac often became rancid.  The wine merchants therefore reduced their volume by distillation, before shipping abroad in oak barrels. After their arrival in foreign ports it was noticed that the clear distillates within had coloured and gained in flavour.

    Many centuries later we have learnt much about ageing our cognacs. The considerations of barrel age, size and wood are regarded by many as secondary to the dampness and location of the cellar.  Dampness in the cellar helps the cognac to mature in the barrel for longer as it reduces evaporation of the spirit through the wood.  There are thousands of cellars in the Cognac region which also hosts two major rivers.  The Charente passes through the middle and the Ne passes round the southern half of the top cru Grande Champagne.  It is therefore reasonable to believe that many of the finest cognac cellars are situated close to these rivers, taking advantage of the increased humidity.

    However, ideal damp conditions can be created in other ways.  Many old stone-built stores were converted outhouses which had had their floors ripped out, thereby removing any damp course between the building and the earth.  New custom-built stores, mainly owned by the big houses, are complete with humidifiers which regulate the atmosphere.  A more questionable method of creating damp barrels is to spray them with water but this is usually only employed during very hot conditions.

    Of course, wherever they are kept, the atmosphere inside a sealed barrel is unlikely to change.  The temperature may alter slightly, and the amount lost to evaporation (known as the Angel’s Share) may differ but otherwise the quality of the cognac should remain the same.

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