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St-Rémy V.S.O.P French Brandy

Review: St-Rémy V.S.O.P French Brandy   83/100
a review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published January 27, 2021

In 1886 Paul-Emile Rémy Martin II established the original St-Rémy Distillery in the tiny village of Machecoul. After 30 years of experimentation (in 1917), St. Remy launched Fine St-Rémy, the French Brandy which came to define the St-Rémy style and character for decades to come. The distillery began to exported their French Brandy to the rest of Europe in the 1920s and then jumped the Atlantic to Canada in 1967. Within another decade, the St-Remy spirit was sold on all five major continents, and today St-Rémy proudly proclaims itself the World’s No. 1 French Brandy.

The production of St-Remy V.S.O.P. French Brandy begins with the selection of grapes, harvested in France’s most prestigious wine-growing regions, such as Burgundy, Champagne, Rhône Valley, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire Valley, Bordeaux and Beaujolais. Distillation takes place in both column and pot stills where the fermented wine is heated until the contained alcohol evaporates and becomes eaux-de-vie. The heart of the second distillation is carefully selected by the distiller to have the proper characteristics such that the eaux-de-vie will develop into brandy as they are matured in small French oak barrels.

French Brandy labeled V.S.O.P. must not have any eaux de vie younger than 4 years.

In The Bottle 3.5/5

The iconic St-Rémy black bottle was introduced in 1949. In fact, St-Remy makes the claim that it was the first brand to sell their products in such a non standard bottle. Since 1949, not much has changed with respect to the bottle. Each St-Rémy brand within the Brandy portfolio has its own unique colour scheme; but the presentation is essentially the same as we move from the St-Rémy VSOP up the ladder to the St-Rémy XO.

I like the consistency through the range; but I find the overall look and the bottle a little dated. St-Rémy shook things up with a new bottle style in 1949; I wish they would do so again and bring a more contemporary look to their Authentic French Brandy. I also am not a fan of the flimsy pressed on metallic screw cap closure. I think it cheapens the brand image, as does the rather uninspired label.

In The Glass 8.5/10

Colour:  Gold/Amber

Legs: Light to Medium Bodied leaving slender legs which fall rather quickly

Nose: Begins with impressions of fine oak spice, butterscotch, raisins and green apple. Then we notice vanilla and red licorice. This is followed by leather, wood shavings, cigarette tobacco, and some herbal grasses. The aromas seem to blend together well in the breezes, the impression is of a pleasant brandy with a moderate complexity.

In The Mouth 50.5/60

The oak is more assertive across the palate than through the breezes. This somewhat woody oakiness is combined with dry fruit (raisin and dates), fine baking spice, vanilla and mild tobacco flavours. The second sip brings more spiciness through the mouth. Fresh grapes and a dry raisins both seem to swim within this zesty spice. Hints of menthol add to the light herbal quality of the spirit.

The St-Rémy V.S.O.P French Brandy can be sipped with ice which brings out hints of chocolate; however I am drawn instead to construct cocktails with the spirit. A sidecar seems to be a good choice.

Sidecar

1 3/4 oz.  St-Rémy V.S.O.P French Brandy
3/4 oz Orange Curacao
3/4 oz. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
3/8 oz. Sugar syrup (1:1 ratio)
ice

Add all ingredients to a metal cocktail shaker filled with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost
Strain into a cocktail glass
Serve and Enjoy!

Please 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!

In The Throat 12.5/15

The crisp finish features dry wood spice followed by vanilla and butterscotch. There is a winding herbal grassiness that seems to settle in as we sip.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

St-Remy V.S.O.P. is not nearly so masterful as its older sibling the St-Remy X.O.. This is not surprising as the spirit is younger by a third. It is also true that in my market the spirit very reasonably priced. As such, it is a great choice if you want to make classic brandy cocktails such as the Sidecar, or tall servings such as the Presbyterian.

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

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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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