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  • Cognac House Hine Changes Hands

    Hine CognacThe famous cognac house of Hine has had a colourful past.  After 6 generations of family ownership, the company was sold to the Distillers Company.  Later it was bought by Möet Hennessy and then CL World Brands.  Probably not the future that British-born founder Thomas Hine had intended.  Although Bernard Hine has, since 1963, continued to be involved, the company missed the benefits family ownership brings.  Its recent sale to French family firm, EDV SAS, has therefore been welcomed with open arms.  Returning to family values with recognition of the longevity of the production process, Hine has been able to rediscover its origins.  New releases of 'early-landed', being developed for travel retail, and single­ estate vintage cognac demonstrate where it's heading.  This, coupled with its fresh, youthful new packaging, H by Hine, illustrates the company's desire to progress yet retain its core values, something many cognac houses have lost.

    Hine is not the only cognac house to have changed hands recently though.  Ivory Coast footballer, Olivier Tebily, bought his first vineyards as a teenager.  Acutely aware of the fragility of his chosen profession he planned to one day produce cognac.  Buying vineyards as an outsider is a tricky business but he took his search seriously and made good friends along the way. One of them, the son of his neighbour, tragically died leaving no heir to the family estate so when the father wanted to sell his 22 acres, Olivier was the obvious choice.  Good to see an injection of fresh blood occasionally!

  • New 20Cl Cognac Gift Presentations

    20Cl CognacWe have just extended our range of Hermitage Cognac 20Cl Gift Presentations.  They can be purchase in box sets of two on the website.  If you cannot see the combination that you require, just phone or email us. with your preference.

    Many of the finest and rarest cognacs are hardly ever tasted since the prices are often beyond the reach of many cognac devotees.  This new presentation gives more cognac fans the opportunity to enjoy these wonderful old nectars.   Ideal for drinking either on ones own, or with friends.

    You can choose two 20Cl bottles from the following Hermitage Vintage Cognacs:

    1900                                1956                                   1967                                50 year old

    1914                                 1957                                  1987                                60 year old

    1917                                 1966                                   43 year old                   70 year old

    Some vintages are in very limited supply so don't miss this amazing opportunity to try some wonderfully aged cognac from years ago.

  • Drinking Cognac, Whisky and Water

    Adding water to whiskyWe read in the papers that Swedish scientists claim to have found proof that adding water to whisky will make it tastier.  To be fair to Professor Bjorn Karlsson, who led the research, he does say that the balance will depend on the concentration and taste compounds that are characteristic of each whisky.  However, it is also claimed that, similar considerations can be used to optimise the alcohol concentrations of other spirits including gin, rum and brandy.  Drinking cognac with water is certainly a topic for discussion.

    We are not scientists but we do taste thousands of cognacs and we do sometimes add water to cognac.  Adding water is about creating the optimum balance i.e. maximum flavour and minimum bite. That said, when we do add water to reduce a cognac it is done very slowly. With cognac strengths close to 40% alcohol by volume, it can take years for the added water to create an acceptable balance. Indeed, water can be detected on the palate in the early stages of dilution as water and spirit are notoriously difficult to blend together.

    Aroma of cognacWhisky is of course different from cognac both in taste and chemically.  Cognac can provide thousands of different flavours as it is the result of a wine distillation rather than distillation from grain.  However, taste is not the complete sensation as aroma also provides a fuller mind perception which enhances our enjoyment of cognac.  It is believed that 50% of the perception of taste comes from the aroma.  Sometimes aroma can be blinded by the alcohol content but the addition of water can also dilute the aroma and hence the total enjoyment.  Conversely, some cognacs are enhanced by a greater alcohol content.  Good examples are our Hermitage 1975 and Hermitage 1987, each with a strength of 47% abv.

    Everybody's perception of taste can change but adding water in the glass to high quality cognacs (and I suspect whisky) to improve the flavour is a myth. Apart from the slightly oily effect created on the palate when the water is added, it also changes the alcoholic strength.  This will dilute the aroma in the glass which, of course, in turn reduces the flavour.  Pure alcohol has no smell but it enhances the flavour of the cognac.  However, if the alcohol is released by swirling the cognac (or whisky), it will sit on the surface of the liquid and blind the aroma.

    Adding water in the glass unbalances your spirit as both taste and aroma are changed.  Sorry Professor, may I recommend that you start drinking your spirits, rather than testing them, to find some real pleasure in the flavour?

  • Our Vintage Brandies Range From 1900 - 2005

    We Have Every Single Year From 1930 - 1994

    Brandies from every yearWe specialise in supplying vintage brandies for special occasions.  Cognac, armagnac and calvados originate in France and we select only the very best.  The range has been expanding since we started out more than a quarter of a century ago.  It now spans over a century.

    Our stocks include a vintage for every single year from 1930 to 1994 – that’s 65 years of birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions which can be marked with something truly special.  Vintage brandies were harvested in the year they were labelled and then aged, untouched in casks for many years.  Single estate, single cask and no additives – just pure brandy – the perfect way to celebrate.

  • Why Choose Cognac As Your Spirit?

    choose cognacFor the last three centuries cognac has been almost universally recognised as the finest of all the hundreds of spirits distilled from grapes. So why should you choose cognac?  For sheer depth and intensity, fruitiness, subtlety of bouquet, warmth and complexity of flavour and length of time for which the taste lingers on the palate, cognac remains incomparable. The ability to extract so much of the essential flavour from the grape is no accident. It involves possessing the right soil and climate and choosing the right grape varieties.  Appropriate distillation methods must be used.  Then, the inherent quality must be enhanced through long storage in the right kind and size of oak cask.  And the storage conditions must be right - damp and dark.

    choose cognacThere is no other spirit in the world that can compare with the sophistication, complexity and length of time it takes to produce a bottle of cognac. It’s flavours and supreme quality are the result of generations of skills handed down over the centuries.  Unlike white spirits, cognac offers an incomparable range of natural flavours derived from a fruit grown in near perfect conditions and when, after decades, it is bottled it can become a most valuable prize.  There is no other spirit that offers such complexity and interest in its many stages of production, no wonder cognac is known as The King of all Spirits.

  • Another Historic Cognac Vintage - 1947

    We are delighted to announce the addition of yet another Hermitage Ville Ancienne cognac to our range.  This particular vintage is proving to be a rarity.  Hermitage 1947 Grande Champagne Cognac has flavours of sweet spices, ripe medlars, muscat grapes, ripe plums and cocoa. Superbly balanced, it has developed a good rancio.  We don’t expect it to be available for long!

    This cognac was distilled 70 years ago in 1947.   That year, George Marshall outlined the ‘Marshall Plan’ which set out to rebuild Western Europe after the second World War. Also, the future British Queen, Princess Elizabeth II wed Lt Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey, London.

  • More Phylloxera Found in Australia

    PhylloxeraIt has been reported that the vine pest, Phylloxera Vastatrix, now known as Grape Phylloxera, is increasing its foothold in Australia. It has now been found in Victoria and New South Wales and the area infested is growing. The deadly aphid has a complex life cycle, reproducing at an alarming rate and attacking the roots of the vines. In the late nineteenth century, the Phylloxera decimated most of the vines (including cognac) in Europe, forcing the growers to replant using Phylloxera-resistant rootstock from the US. Today, many other countries are still growing the vulnerable Vitis Vinifera vines on their own roots.  Perhaps this is because of the cost of replanting but also, some believe that the quality of the grapes from grafted rootstock is not as good. It seems that soon, the rest of the world will have no choice but to follow Europe’s lead.

  • The Last Drop 1947 Cognac

    1947 cognacThe Last Drop Distillers, recently bought by Sazerac, has released a limited run of a 1947 Hors d’Age Cognac. Distilled just after the end of World War II, just 186 bottles are in existence. Each bottle has been filled by hand, wax sealed and presented in a red leather case along with a 50ml miniature. The bottling also includes a certificate of authenticity, a leather-bound tasting booklet and a custom-made stopper. It is an attractive presentation but before you feel compelled to part with £3,200 for one, check out the competition first. Hermitage 1947 Grande Champagne Cognac is a real gem from the same year. Traditionally presented, it can be purchased for a mere £711.34.

  • 'Brexit' and the Drinks Industry

    europeSince Great Britain voted to leave the EU, about a year ago, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) has had much to say about it. They are concerned that if frictionless borders are not put in place, laborious customs checks will severely delay the importation of wine and spirits and lead to a resurgence in alcohol smugglers. More recently, the CEO said that it was essential the UK secure transitional measures that would allow sufficient time for “necessary systems to be introduced and properly tested” and avoid the UK falling off a cliff without a deal. The UK is the world’s second largest imported wine market and the largest spirits exporter so the Brexit challenge is as acute for the UK as it is for other European countries. On a more positive note, the UK ferry industry hopes that Brexit will provide a welcome boon for the travel retail sector, paving the way for the return of duty-free shopping on board for the first time in 20 years.

  • The Charente Scene - Summer 2017

    The CharenteMuch of the news from the Charente recently has been about the severe frosts that occurred at the end of April. The air temperature dropped to between -3 and -4°C on two consecutive mornings, affecting around 70% of the vineyards in the cognac growing region. The frost, which was the worst since 1991, damaged the young shoots emerging from the vines and is thought to have affected 40% of total production. A BNIC spokesman said that in a few cases this year’s grape harvest has been completely wiped out and some growers may find it difficult to recover. To help raise the production level of this depleted grape availability, the BNIC have allowed production levels to rise from 10hl to 12hl of pure spirit per hectare. However, some growers, who concentrate on the high quality of their vines, believe this is far more than their vines can produce. We shall wait and see but one consequence could be an increase in cognac prices next year.

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