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Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge

Review: Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge  (87.5 pts/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka) Arctic Wolf
Published on May,  2013

Grand Marnier is an orange-flavored, brandy based liqueur created by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle in 1880. It is apparently produced from Cognac, neutral spirit, distilled essence of bitter orange, and sugar. The Cognac in particular is important as fully 51 % of the final volume of the spirit is blended Cognac. This aged spirit is blended with water and a neutral spirit which contains the distilled essence of bitter orange. The final liqueur is bottled at 40% alcohol by volume, and is meant to be served neat as an aperitif or used as an ingredient in fine cocktail recipes.

GranMarIn the Bottle 4.5/5

Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge arrives in the regal bottle pictured to the left. It has a bit of an old-fashioned look to it which is appealing, and features a red ribbon attached to the neck of the bottle which is ‘wax sealed under the Marnier-Lapostal crest which sits directly over top of the label. I like the look and I especially like the cork stopper which seals the bottle.

In the Glass 9/10

The colour I see in the glass (light amber) reflects the Cognac brandy base from which this liqueur is constructed. The initial aroma is a very well melded mixture of orange peel and brandy. The scents in the breezes are not sharp, rather they seem to have a rich earthy character. I detect the lightly zesty, somewhat bitter aroma of dry orange peels, and a fresh burst of freshly sliced oranges. A light but firm oak character is in the breezes as well. Under all of this are vague  impressions of green grapes and raisins. The entire combination is very appealing.

In the Mouth 52/60

The initial flavour carries both bitter and sweet flavours of orange, with a rush of hot spiciness quickly following. I can taste the cognac base very clearly under the orange. There are plenty of wood spices which heat the mouth, a sweetness from sugar which tempers this heat, the zest of bitter orange, and a light indication of fresh green grapes and yellow apples. The overall structure of the liqueur seems to be always at the edge. The orange is almost too bitter; the sugar is almost too sweet; and the wood spiciness is almost too biting; yet never do these flavours build to the point where the spirit becomes cloying. It is a well constructed spirit which walks a path along the precipice, but which never tumbles over.

When I mix Grand Marnier into cocktails I like to use the liqueur with other aged spirits in high quality cocktails. In particular it mixes very well with aged rum or whisky and with Añejo Tequila (see recipe below). I suggest the reason is because of the aged cognac base which comprises 51 % of this spirit. Because the Grand Marnier is composed of a spirit which has seen the inside of an oak vessel, it can meld with other oaked spirits achieving harmony with relative ease.

In the Throat 13.5/15

When sipped neat the finish is full of orange marmalade and spicy oak. The sugary sweetness ensures the finish is long and lingering, although towards the very end we notice a light bitterness creeping in.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Grand Marnier mixes extremely well with aged spirits, making elegant aged cocktails. In fact it is my orange liqueur of choice in that format. The spirit also serves me well as an after dinner dessert style drink. It is particularly delicious served cold with just a little dark chocolate.

If you wish to have some comparison reviews of other Orange Liqueurs you may click here.


Suggested Recipe:

SAM_0721 MaxMy favourite Añejo Tequila Cocktail mixes Grand Marnier with aged tequila.

Maximiliano Tequila

1 1/2 ounces of  Tequila Añejo
3/4 ounces of Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge.

Serve in a brandy glass with no ice
Allow the cocktail oxidize for about 5 minutes
Garnish with a twist of orange peel.



My Reviews contain a rating or score out of 100, and these scores can be interpreted using the following scale:

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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