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News from the Brandy Houses

  • Cognac Sector Must Uphold Rules

    Cognac SectorThe Spirits Business' Melita Kiely recently interviewed our MD, David Baker, about the cognac sector and this is what she had to say:

    'From music and wine to fine French spirits, David Baker has had quite the journey building his Hermitage Cognacs brand. He tells us why interest in Cognac is on the rise, and why the category should stay true to its rules and regulations.'

    She discusses the merits of Hermitage Paradis 1885 Grande Champagne Cognac which was distilled in the year when Mark Twain published the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the US, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York on the French ship Isere and Louis Pasteur successfully tested his vaccine against rabies.  And finishes her article off by saying:

    For Baker, quality will be the focal point of all of Hermitage Cognacs’ endeavours, and his quest to find and bottle the rarest, most expressive and complex Cognacs will continue. “At our end of the line, what we’re looking at is to find Cognacs that are beyond comparison, Cognacs that are so good people want to buy them for their own private usage, either as an investment or to keep for their families to be passed on for generations to come,” he says. And long may it continue.

    You can read the full article here.

  • Nusbaumer Eaux de Vie and Liqueurs

    NusbaumerWe are very pleased to announce a new addition to our stocks: liqueurs and eaux de vie from Nusbaumer, an independent, family-owned artisanal distillery in the heart of the Alsace.  Founded by Jos Nusbaumer in 1947, the distillery is located in Stiege, a small town in the Vosge valleys, to the south-west of Strasbourg.  There are several factors that make Stiege the ideal place to distil fruit spirits; there’s exceptional mountain spring water, an altitude allowing lower distillation pressure leading to richer aromas and a microclimate with significant temperature variations.  All of these factors have a positive impact on fermentation, maceration and aging.

     

    The eaux de vie include Poire William Rouge which is made exclusively from small red Williams Pears native to the Hautes-Alpes and grown on hillsides with exceptional aspect. The crushed pears are fermented for four weeks and distilled in a small copper-pot still. The eau de vie is then rested for twenty years then reduced with mountain spring water prior to bottling.

    We also have Vieille Prune which is made from wild plums sourced in the Fouchy valley, the crushed fruit is fermented for four weeks prior to small copper-pot distillation. The eau de vie is then aged for seven years in chestnut barrels to create a unique roundness and intensity.Nusbaumer

     

     

     

     

    Nusbaumer’s liqueurs are the best of their type that we’ve come across. Unlike most liqueurs that are made from neutral spirit, these are made from the eau de vie of the particular fruit.  For example, cassis is made using blackcurrant eau de vie.  As a consequence, the delivery of flavour and balance is exceptional. These are luxurious and distinguished by their quality.

  • Bhakta Innovates in the Armagnac Market

    Last time we reported that Whistle Pig founder, Raj Bhakta, had bought the armagnac house Maison Ryst Dupeyron.  One wonders if he intends to do for armagnac what he did for rye whiskey over the past decade? After just 12 years of trading, Whistle Pig has become the leading supplier of rye whiskey and sells over 1.2 million cases per year.  Bhakta’s interest in armagnac began in 2017 when Whistle Pig took its priciest rye whiskey and finished it in armagnac barrels. The result, the Black Prince, won best overall whiskey at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. No longer a shareholder in Whistle Pig, Bhakta is now embarking on a new project with his armagnac house purchase.  His first release, Bhakta 50, is a blend of 8 vintages with a minimum age of 50 years which has been finished in smoky, Islay Scotch casks followed by new armagnac casks.  Bhakta feels that this “freshens up” the old spirit, although as a result, it can no longer be called ‘armagnac’.  Keen to bridge the gap between whiskey and armagnac he wants to be creative and “deliver a product of great value and rarity”.  It will be interesting to see if such innovation boosts armagnac’s presence across the brown spirits marketplace.

  • Sustainability in the Drinks Industry

    sustainabilityWe have often reported how the drinks industry is changing its production methods to become more environmentally friendly but now the products themselves are under the spotlight.  A European group, the Circular Economy Platform for Glass Collection & Recycling, is aiming to have 90% of all EU glass packaging recycled by 2030; the figure currently stands at 76%.  A consumer survey found that 80% of Europeans still prefer buying wine and spirits in glass bottles and spending on products packaged in glass has risen 51% in the last 3 years.  The ‘Close the Glass Loop’ group, supported by Spirits Europe, also aims to improve the quality of the recycled glass as currently only 52% of it ends up back in the production loop. However, this has not stopped the production of alternative packaging.  Wine sold in cans has really taken off and Waitrose is pioneering a new sustainable packaging – wine in tubes.  Following their aim to become the leading sustainable retailer in the UK, the ‘bag in tube’ wines are 100% recyclable and contain the equivalent of 3 x 75cl bottles. Once opened, the wine will remain fresh for 10 days longer than when in a glass bottle.  Sustainable packaging has also inspired the Paper Bottle Company (Paboco) which is being supported by Pernod Ricard.  Remy Martin have gone one step further and announced that they will discontinue gift boxes on a number of their products, in certain markets, in order to reduce waste and improve sustainability.

  • Remy Martin Buys Brillet Cognac

    Brillet CognacThe Rémy Cointreau Group has announced their acquisition of Maison de Cognac J.R. Brillet which is based at Graves Saint Amant in the Charente.  The Brillet Cognac sale includes 50 hectares of vineyards located in Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, the Brillet cognacs and Belle de Brillet, a pear and cognac liqueur.   Good to see its ownership remain with a family owned French firm but the big houses often subsume new cognac stocks into huge generic blends where individual flavours are completely lost.  It has taken a year for this sale to be agreed and during that time the Remy Cointreau Group’s sales have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  More specifically, the House of Rémy Martin experienced an organic 7.5% drop in sales during 2019/2020.  An interesting time to increase ones cognac production isn’t it?

  • Cognac Masters 2020 - Gold & Master Medals

    master medalsThe results are out!  We entered 4 of our ever-expanding range of Grande Champagne cognacs into The Spirits Business Cognac Masters this year and came away with 2 x GOLD medals and 2 x MASTER medals.  These could be our best results yet.

    GOLD medals were awarded to:

    Hermitage 20 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac  -  “Big and complex cognac”  Judges comments and Hermitage Café 20 Cognac  -  “Delicious … warm spice and a long finish”  Judges comments

    MASTER Medals were awarded to:

    Hermitage 40 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac  -  “Wonderfully complex”  Judges comments and Hermitage Eleanor 60 + Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac  “Stunning palate … long finish”  Judges comments.  Price and availability of Hermitage Eleanor in on application.

  • Global Luxury Spirits Masters 2019 - GOLD Medals

    Spirits MastersNot only have we had a record year with the introduction of new Hermitage Cognac vintages, the range has also been awarded an unprecedented number of GOLD Medals.  The latest, received from the Luxury Spirits Masters 2019, are for:

    Hermitage 1923 Grande Champagne Cognac.  A particularly fine example of a 1920s cognac that has taken many decades to reach perfection.

    "This has a gorgeous flavour, somewhere between a sultana and a sun-dried apricot with the spirit framing the layers with impeccable integration."  Olly Smith, Wines & Spirits Expert

    Hermitage 1995 Grande Champagne Cognac.  This wonderful cognac comes from the same distillery as our award-winning 1999 vintage but has aged for a longer period, enabling a greater complexity of flavours.  It is a rich and beautifully finished cognac, fit for a king.

  • Record Year For New Hermitage Vintage Cognacs

    Hermitage Vintage CognacsThis year we have had an amazing number of new Hermitage Vintage Cognacs added to the range.  We have been thrilled to find so many exquisite and unique cognacs packed with wonderful aromas and flavours for you to enjoy.  Many are now Gold medal winners as blind judging panels across the globe have also recognised their superior qualities.

    We have not had the chance to tell you about these three yet:

    Hermitage Paradis 1893 Grande Champagne Cognac.  This was an extremely lucky find as it is regarded by many as one of the finest vintages to come from this important period.

    Hermitage 1970 Fins Bois Cognac.  It is rare to find cognacs from the Fins Bois in the Hermitage range but this one is special.

    Hermitage 1991 Grande Champagne Cognac.  Our last 1991 vintage ran out so we were delighted to find such a magnificent replacement with this one from Chez Richon.

  • Rémy To Buy Cognac House, Maison J.R.Brillet

    BrilletRémy Cointreau is in negotiations to buy Maison J.R.Brillet, a family-owned cognac business founded in the 17th century.  In addition to the company, the deal is thought to include the family’s vineyard estate and their stock of well-aged eaux de vie.  It is located in the village of Graves-Saint-Armant, on the border of Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, the top cognac crus.  Announcing the planned takeover, Rémy Cointreau said that it will provide an ‘opportunity to integrate spirits with genuine development potential into its portfolio and to increase, over time, the value of an inventory of eaux-de-vie and vineyards of the highest quality’.  It is always a shame to see another of the small, high quality, independent, family-run cognac producers subsumed into one of the ‘Big 4’.  A piece of Cognac history will come to an abrupt end and the firm’s precious old nectars will probably be blended beyond all recognition.

  • IWSC 2019 Cognac Gold Medals

    IWSC 2019 cognac gold medalsThe IWSC 2019 Awards have just been announced and we are delighted to report that Hermitage Cognacs are once again amongst the winners with three cognac gold medals.

    Leading the way is the Hermitage 1950 Grande Champagne Cognac which was awarded a GOLD OUTSTANDING medal.  ‘Classically good old cognac. Rancio to the fore, with a quite wonderful palate’   Judges' comments

    GOLD Medals were also awarded to two other Grande Champagne Cognacs:

    Hermitage 1940 Cognac   ‘Wonderfully powerful aromas that absolutely typify good, old cognacs’   Judges' comments

    Hermitage 1945 Cognac   ‘The real personification of just how good and elegant old cognac can be’   Judges' comments

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