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CAMUS VS (Elegance)

Review: CAMUS VS Elegance    (85.5/100)
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published January 02, 2015

CAMUS is the last of the major Cognac Houses that is entirely family run, and the House has been that way for five generations. Cyril Camus who represents the fifth generation of the Camus family currently remains in sole control of the company which currently has employees on three separate continents responsible for sales of cognac in almost every country of the world.

The folks at PMA Canada (who are the sales agents for CAMUS here in Canada) arranged for me to have a special meeting with Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits. At that meeting, Richard stepped me through the entire production process for Camus Cognac (from grape to glass), and then he proceeded to give me a special tasting of the entire Camus line-up (the line-up available in Canada that is), and he also gave me samples afterwards such that I could review each of them here on my website.

The CAMUS VS Elegance is the introductory spirit of the CAMUS Range. Its construction begins with a selection of eaux-de-vie made from wines distilled without lees. Of particular note on the CAMUS website is a reference to the aromas of the wine and the flavors of the Charente terroir, characterized by delicate fruity and floral notes which are particularly important for the CAMUS VS Elegance blend.

The ages of the varies blended Cognac in the VS Elegance must be (by law) a minimum of two years of age, although to maintain a consistent flavour profile from year to year, it would not be unusual for some of the specific Cognac in the blend to be aged longer.

CAMus ELEGANCE VS 70CLIn the Bottle 5/5

As you can see from the image to the left, the CAMUS VS Elegance arrives in a handsome medium tall glass bottle. (Although it is not shown an equally handsome black display box usually houses the spirit.) The bottom portion of this bottle matches the shape of a cocktail shaker which gives bartenders a familiar grip when they grab the spirit from the bar shelf, and at the top of the bottle, the closure is a long plastic screw cap which happens to be manufactured such that it contains exactly one shot of spirit, which (if you cannot find your jigger when you are making a cocktail) is very nice indeed. This is a design which is both functional and elegant. I like everything I see.

In the Glass 8.5/10

When I poured the VS Cognac into my tulip shaped glencairn glass, I saw the spirit displayed itself with an appealing golden colour. When I tilted and twirled that glass, the crest of cognac on the inside slowly dropped some small leglets which formed slender trails of slightly thickened spirit running back into the cognac at the bottom.

The merry little breezes above the glass bring a very nicely fruited mixture of green grape and apricot brandy into the air which are both melded nicely into rising scents of fine oak spice and light butterscotch. There is a gentle floral sweetness in the breezes represented by indications of rose petals, garden lilies and lightly perfumed iris. As the glass sits I sense a light herbaceous quality within the air with impressions of menthol and lemongrass. Smells of new leather and sawgrass join in and there is a firm addition of citrus zest adding a touch of youthful exuberance to the overall aroma.

In the Glass 51/60

The initial delivery brings forward impressions of fresh green grape and hints of apricot brandy as well as a light sweetness of butterscotch toffee and a dusting of fine oak spice. These main flavours are accented a firm impression of rose-water, and then lessor hints of menthol, fresh leather, and lemon grass. There is also (just as I noticed in the CAMUS VSOP Elegance) a hint of saltiness brought forward which once noticed seems to linger in the background. The second sip brings more spiciness forward in the form of orange peel and fine oak spice. This spiciness does not build up on the palate, but it does add a pleasant touch of dryness to the overall taste experience.

In the Throat 12.5/15

The exit features trailing flavours of butterscotch accented by camphor, lemongrass and licorice. The mouth and throat are left gently heated by wood spice and orange peel, yet at the same time they feel the gentle coolness of a menthol candy lozenges. The final impressions contain floral suggestions of blue iris, and lilac, and a light saltiness which lingers within the wood spices.

There is perhaps just a hint of metallic astringency which keeps the score down slightly.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

If you compare this review to my previous review for the Camus VSOP (see here) you will find a lot of similarities. It is obvious to me that he creators of each blend are working towards a similar style and flavour profile. The VS spirit (of course) lacks the full depth of flavour accomplished by the VSOP spirit, and it is also shows more astringency in the finish. Having said that however, there would certainly be times when this more youthful spirit would actually be preferred to its older sibling. One of those times would be when I was in the mood for a nice tall refreshing cocktail. (I have provided an example of one such cocktail below.)

My final score of 85.5/100 places this spirit firmly between the two realms of cocktail mixer and Cognac sipper. Being a thirsty Canadian, I will be mixing more often than sipping; but that is a preference in style, not in quality.

You may click this link to read some of my other Brandy and Cognac Reviews


Suggested Recipe

The Presbyterian Cocktail is a simple long cocktail which mixes Scotch Whisky with ginger ale and soda water. When I was discussing CAMUS VS Elegance Cognac with Richard Bush the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, I asked him if he was familiar with that particular cocktail as I felt during our tasting session that his CAMUS VS would be particularly well suited for this style of bar drink. Richard confessed he was unfamiliar with the Presbyterian cocktail, however when I described for him what it was, he became quite excited. Apparently mixing ginger-ale and soda water with Cognac is very common in France, and he felt that I was definitely on the right cocktail path for this particular spirit.

Of course a proper Presbyterian Cocktail must be made with whisky. When made with Cognac, I believe it would be more appropriate to call this construction a French Presbyterian.

French PresbyterianHere is the recipe:

The French Presbyterian Cocktail

2 oz CAMUS VS Elegance Cognac
2 1/2 oz Ginger Ale
2 1/2 oz Club Soda
slice of lemon or two (optional)

Add the ice-cubes to a rocks or Collins glass
Pour the Cognac over the ice
Add Ginger Ale and Club Soda and stir
Garnish with a slices of lemon if desired

Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!


My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing spirit.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

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