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The Bottle Story

  • Avallen Calvados - the most sustainable spirit possible?

    Avallen CalvadosLaunched  last year, Avallen Calvados has been hitting the headlines as a ‘product with a purpose’.  Created by Healthy Hospo founder Tim Etherington-Judge and wine and spirits specialist Stephanie Jordan, they set out to make the most sustainable spirit possible and so chose calvados. Avallen means ‘apple tree’ in Old Cornish and is made without the addition of sugar, caramel or boisé.  It is packaged in a lightweight bottle with a label that sends the message ‘Bee-ing positive has never tasted this delicious’.  Its packaging won a Master medal and €0.50 from each bottle sold will be donated to organisations dedicated to restoring and protecting bees. Aged for only two years it is a pretty young spirit, but the sustainability message will surely resonate with many in the current climate.

  • Ferrand 10 Generations Cognac

    Ferrand 10 Generations CognacFerrand has released a new Grande Champagne cognac called Ferrand 10 Generations.   It is a tribute to the 10 generations of the Ferrand family that have been present in Segonzac since the 15th century.  Blended from a single grape variety, Ugni Blanc, there is little indication of age so do not be misled by the number 10 on the label.  What does make this bottle different though, is the design of the label.  It appears to be covered with the intricate pattern of vine roots underground.  On closer inspection however, you will see the roots also contain the faces of the 10 family generations. So, if packaging is the most important factor when choosing your cognac, this could be for you!

  • La Grande Josiane 95/100 - Orange Armagnac Liqueur

    La Grande JosianeThe Wine Enthusiast Top 100 International Spirits 2019 has listed La Grande Josiane, Orange Armagnac Liqueur, as Number 1 in its Liqueur section.  Awarded 95/100 points, this score is the highest ever attributed to a French liqueur.  It was described as “Armagnac plus orange liqueur equals a delightful sipper. The rich aroma bursts with orange oil and comforting vanilla. On the palate, nuanced cocoa and coffee wind into a cinnamon-warmed finish, plus just enough alcohol to cut the sweetness.”  La Grande Josiane is one of our best sellers from Chateau de Bordeneuve who reported an “abundant and impeccable” harvest last year.  Despite the unstable and often extreme weather that characterised 2019, the harvest surpassed all expectations.  “Even our youngest Baco varietal vines out-performed their tender years, liberating a rich and unctuous juice - characteristics that are particularly prized for distilling the very best, long-ageing armagnacs.  The future 2019 vintage is looking very promising indeed.” said the Castledine, Commercial Director.

  • Welcome To 2020, Time To Try New Vintages

    2020After the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve it is time to look to the year ahead, 2020.

    We are always on the lookout for interesting cognac vintages from the top crus and the latest additions are no exception.  We have many celebration, cognac vintages ending in a zero for those turning 30, 40, 50 years old and so on.. and we are very excited to announce we now have one for centenarians.  Hermitage 1920 Grande Champagne Cognac was distilled a hundred years ago before being aged for over 70 years in oak casks.  The result is spectacular.

    We also have a new Hermitage 50 Year Old.  Originating in Petite Champagne it is presented at 41% abv to ensure optimum balance.  Big birthdays this year just got a whole lot easier!

  • Tiffon 1995 Grande Champagne Cognac

    Tiffon 1995A new release from Tiffon is the Tiffon 1995 Grande Champagne vintage.  Tiffon, which dates back to 1875, is still a family run business based in Jarnac with the family home, Chateau de Triac, just 5 kms away.  The Chateau, which was demolished in the Hundred Years War, is in Fins Bois, home to some of their 40 hectares of vines.  They have other vineyards in Grande Champagne.  This 1995 vintage comes from Grande Champagne and as with most 20 year old cognacs from the top cru, should be elegant with good length.  Before you rush out and buy it, however, take a look at another single estate, 1995, Grande Champagne cognac.  The Hermitage 1995 is approximately one third cheaper to buy and is already a Gold medal winner; clearly we are not the only ones who think it is sublime!

  • Exsto Cognac - Elixir & Or Imperial

    ExstoExsto Cognac has been created by two French women, sommelier Julie Dupouy and entrepreneur Sabrine Duong.  Their idea was to make a cognac from a “female point of view”, not “an old man’s type of drink” nor made in a traditional way through the sole vision of a family-run cognac maker.  They picked 8 eaux-de-vie from 15 small cognac producers and were assisted by Vallantin-Dulac’s seventh generation master blender.  Their aim was to produce a more elegant spirit with a more fruit-forward style.  At the end of the process, they had created two blends: Elixir and Or Imperial. The bottles feature the hand-drawn multi-ringed topography of Cognac’s grape-growing areas - a visual that Dupouy likens to a Mastryoshka doll – while the caps, which include air-tight Vinalok seals, are designed by French glass artists Eve and Laurent George.  It will be interesting to see if a new approach to cognac production, unencumbered by family traditions, can produce a different style of cognac.  Whether the female influence will result in increased popularity with the ladies remains to be seen.

  • Calvados & Whisky - An Unusual Blend

    Calvados & WhiskyScottish whisky blender, Compass Box, has released a new spirit drink comprising calvados & whisky.  The calvados, from the Christian Drouin distillery, has been blended with whiskies aged in French oak casks and Sherry butts. Compass Box’s founder said “We have been blending calvados and Scotch whisky at home for years, enchanted by their complementary qualities.  Although one of the world’s greatest spirits, calvados is also one of the most underappreciated”.  The result is said to possess ‘layers of apple character married beautifully with malty, vanilla and spice-like notes’.  Compass Box is not the only firm to recognise the success of this flavour combination, though.  Sweden’s Mackmyra distillery has just released a single malt whisky, finished in ex-calvados casks.  Perhaps such ideas will help calvados get the appreciation it so deserves?

  • 40 Years In The Making - Grande Champagne Cognac

    40 yearsWe have spent decades looking for a 40 year old cognac that is worthy of the Hermitage label and so we are very excited to announce that it is here at last, aged for 40 years.

    Aged with great care and expertise, this wonderful Grande Champagne cognac has been in an oak barrel for 40 years slowly maturing to its optimum condition. Flavours of plum and vanilla expand into lychee, pear, hay, plum and dried mandarin demonstrating complexity and individuality.

    A great cognac for any occasion but especially for those celebrating a 40th anniversary or 40th birthday.  Take advantage of its special price throughout July 2019.

  • The Bottle Story - Martell Blue Swift

    Martell Blue SwiftDescribed as a ‘cognac-based spirit drink’ Martell Blue Swift is made of VSOP Cognac that has been matured in French oak casks and finished in Kentucky Bourbon casks. Far from ‘reinventing the cognac category’, it does not meet the regulations to be labelled ‘Cognac’.  Cognac must be aged in French oak casks and any finishing casks cannot have held anything other than wine or wine-based spirits.  Many cognac products with ‘a finish’ have been released over recent months so it is good to see the regulations being categorically defined.

  • Spanish Brandy Gaining Popularity

    Spanish brandy For many, Spanish brandy is something drunk on holiday, in its country of origin, but its quality can be just as good as any brandy in the world.  Made from a different grape variety (Jerez) and using the solera top up system, it is often aged in old sherry casks.  Spanish brandies can often provide better value for money than French brandies such as cognac and armagnac but they have a reputation for exclusivity which Spanish brandy has yet to earn.  Addressing this issue, Spain is beginning to focus on creating premium and ultra-premium brandies in the hope that they will be able to compete with the more famous varieties.   With consumer trends moving towards products that are legitimate, relevant, have a history and added value, Spanish Brandy could be the next big thing.

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