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Archive for the ‘Brandy Review’ Category

Review: St-Remy XO Authentic French Brandy

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 27, 2018

St-Remy Heretic No. 2

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 XO Authentic 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.

I was enjoying this Brandy again today and thought I would re-post my review from last September :

Review: St-Remy XO Authentic French Brandy

“… When I bring my nose to the glass the breezes bring me aromas rich with oak and caramel toffee. There are firm oaky vanillans imprinted into the oak and toffee as well as hints of maple. The spirit is fruity with scents of orange marmalade, plump raisins, and impressions of Turkish Delight (red licorice) dancing in the background …”

Please enjoy my review which includes my cocktail recommendation, Heretic No. 2.



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#71 Torres Jaime I Brandy (30 year Solera)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 15, 2015

Torres Jaime I is produced in the Penedès region of Spain by Miguel Torres. This distinctive brandy is named for the founder of the House, Jaime Torres Vendrell, and is produced from old soleras which were aged from selected distilled wines. In fact, some of these soleras began their lives as distilled Pardella Wines destined for the Torres 10 Brandy, but were instead kept aside to serve as reserve stocks. To make the Torres Jaime I, these reserves were enriched with some of the House’s best soleras, the oldest of which were aged 30 years. Torres 30 Jaime I BrandyThe final piece of the puzzle (so to speak) was the addition of a small amount of aged 1972 eau-de-vie of Folle Blanche lees (which is normally used to produce high-quality pot-still brandy).

Here is a link to my review of the #71 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#71 – Torres Jaime I Brandy (30 year Solera)

“… The brandy is complex, assertive and very intense. In fact, the bouquet from the glass has the ability to fill the room when it is poured. The aroma is oak stained and very rich. Dry fruit (dates, raisins and prunes), licorice, charred coconut, and almond all rise into the breezes. Baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon) join in as does a wonderful brown sugary aroma which adds to the richness of the aroma above the glass. As I let the glass breathe, I seem to catch hints of marzipan, marmalade and a building chocolate presence …”


You may follow my Countdown list of the 100 Best Spirits here: The Rum Howler 2015 – Top 100 Spirits

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The Year in Cognac and Brandy (2014 Rum Howler Awards)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on January 6, 2015

RH-winner2014I am a little late with my 2014 Rum Howler Awards. As some of you know, I took a sabbatical from my website at the end of the summer when my wife and my youngest son were each going through some medical difficulties. My time and attention was needed on the home front rather than on the web front, and as a result I made the decision in early October to postpone the publication of my Rum Howler Awards until after Christmas. I hope that no one minds the delay.

Earlier this year, I sent out a call to my contacts in the spirits industry as I was hoping to acquire 4 or 5 VSOP Cognac samples for a Rum Chums Tasting as well as for a short series of Cognac reviews to publish. The response I received was nothing short of amazing as instead of just a few VSOP Cognac, I also received an assortment of VS Cognac, and an even larger assortment of XO and super premium Cognac spirits. This meant that instead of a few VSOP spirits to review, I had suddenly acquired a bunch of Cognac spirits, sixteen samples in all. In fact I received enough sample spirits such that I am able to add the Cognac category to my annual Rum Howler Awards. (I also had a few very old Brandies which I added to the festivities.)

And thus it is time to reveal the recipients of the 2014 Rum Howler Awards for Excellence in the Production of Cognac (and Brandy). These Awards are for the best spirits which I encountered in the year 2014.

Here is a link to the Awards Page:

The 2014 Rum Howler Awards – The Year in Cognac (And Brandy)


Note: The awards page contains links to my latest reviews for CAMUS VS, Courvoisier VS, and Hennessy VS Cognac.

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The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #2 – Pierre Ferrand Cigare

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 22, 2014

2729_PF Cigare HD (1125x1500)Pierre Ferrand Cigare was produced in very small quantities, created solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation of France. In producing the Cigare Cognac, the aim was to structure the final spirit such that it would be suitable for pairing with a fine Cigar, hence the name Pierre Ferrand Cigare. Although the final spirit has no age statement, according to the information provided to me, the Cognac is blended to achieve an average age of 25 years.

Here is a link to my latest Cognac Review:

The 12 Cognacs of Christmas #2 – Pierre Ferrand Cigare

“… The aroma is oak stained and decadent with dark dry fruit (dates, raisins and prunes), charred coconut, and roasted walnuts all rising into the breezes. I am also greeted with strong oak and cedar smells which carry a rich combination of leather and spice (hints of spicy clove mixed with allspice, and cinnamon and nutmeg) in their wake …”


Stay tuned as on Christmas Eve I will unveil my final review of the year, and complete the 12 Cognacs of Christmas!

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Alabazam and Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge – Instant Classic!

Posted by Arctic Wolf on February 21, 2014

Torres Alabazam SAM_1051The Alabazam is an old cocktail recipe usually credited to Leo Engels, an American bartender (working in London) who published the recipe in 1878 (recipe number 192 by the way) in his cocktail book, American and Other Drinks (grab yourself a copy because this is not the only gem in the book). His recipe bears a resemblance to the modern Sidecar, but with one significant difference, Mr. Engels used Angostura Bitters in the recipe (with the lemon juice and orange Curacao), lots of Angostura Bitters!

I have seen a few modern versions of the recipe, usually with the bitters toned down, and the teaspoon of sugar replaced with a teaspoon of simple syrup. However, I recommend the original construction,  as well as the use of a robust brandy which will stand up to the bitters. After a bit of experimentation I found Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge works extremely well.  (see review for Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge  here)

Leo Engels recipe can be summarized as follows:


Half a wine glass of brandy (about 1 3/4 oz)
2 teaspoons Orange Curacao
1 teaspoon Angostura bitters
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Shake well over fine (crushed ) ice
Strain into a wine glass

The Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge Brandy, with its strong oak flavour running throughout, works very well with the heavy dose of bitters in the Alabazam. I also used Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao (see review here) to obtain as close to an original 1878 Curacao flavour as possible. When you try to duplicate the recipe please, do not skimp on the sugar, as the lemon juice and bitters are unforgiving if not balanced by the appropriate amount of sweetness.



Miguel Torres 20 Hors d’âge, is a double distilled brandy made by the Torres family (or bodega) who have been intrinsically linked to the wine making region of Spain known as the Penedès for over three centuries. Their brandy is produced from selected wines of the Parellada (a traditional Catalan white varietal) and Ugni Blanc (also known as Trebbiano in Italy) grape varieties. After distillation of the wine in copper pot stills, a careful selection process is undertaken to choose the most positive aromatic fractions, and these are aged in french Limousin oak barrels.

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