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Posts Tagged ‘Cognac’

Review: Hennessy Paradis Rare Cognac

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 18, 2016

bottle-paradisJas Hennessy & Co., is the largest Cognac producer in the world today with sales that exceed 45 million bottles per year. The company was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy who was an Irish Officer in the army of Louis XV.  Fifty two years later, in 1817, Hennessy Cognac was so highly regarded that the Prince of Wales, (who later would become King George IV of Great Britain) asked the Hennessy House to produce what was termed a “very superior old pale cognac“. This was apparently the genesis for the initials V.S.O.P (Very Superior Old Pale), and these initials have become a labeling standard used throughout the industry to this day.

Hennessy’s eaux di vie spirit is produced from the fruity Ugni Blanc grapes which have been harvested from the four great crus of the Cognac region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois). The grape wine produced is (of course) double distilled upon copper pot stills and then set down to age.

Hennessy’s Paradis was the creation of Maurice Fillioux, the sixth generation of his family to act as chief blender for Hennessy Cognac (succeeded by his nephew Yann Fillioux) who in 1979 chose to blend eaux de vie which had been selected by his grandfather specifically because they displayed the temperament and structure which would lend themselves  a long period of maturity. The result of his efforts was Hennessy Paradis Rare Cognac which is composed of up to 100 blended eauz de vie aged for between 25 to 100 years.

Here is my review:

Review: Hennessy Paradis Rare Cognac

” … The breezes above the glass are oak stained with strong woody aromas accented by light baking spices (vanilla, nutmeg, cardamon and cinnamon) and hints of dark Demerara sugar. There is a firm underlying floral element with impressions of lilac, menthol and subtle reflections of blue iris. As the glass breathes, pipe tobacco seems to form from the aromatic constituents in the air …”

Please enjoy my review of this extra aged cognac.

Chimo!

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Posted in Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Cognac Review | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Cocktail Hour: Cognac Servings

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 17, 2016

If you delve into the history of Cognac, you will find that the spirit was drank in a very different manner in the 18th and 19th centuries. In fact, if you happen to enter an old bar in France you might still see blue glass bottles with handles which used to be filled with seltzer water to be used with Cognac. The grape spirit may have remained a mixing spirit had not phylloxera arrived and ravaged the European vineyards.

Because of phylloxera, Cognac all but disappeared in the 1870’s, and it remained a relatively rare spirit until the end of the 19th century. During this time, it was gradually replaced in bars and restaurants by whisk(e)y in both the United Kingdom and North America. When the vineyards recovered and Cognac became more readily available near the beginning of the 20thcentury, it had to find a new market niche to occupy. For this reason, the grape spirit came to be promoted as an after dinner sipping drink rather than as a spirit meant mixed drinks and cocktails.

Brandy Crusta (1878) SAM_1069_1

Brandy Crusta

However, if we go back to the roots of Cognac and how people originally preferred to enjoy the spirit, we find that as a cocktail spirit it has tremendous appeal. Cognac displays intense taste and aromas, great complexity, and a wonderful finish. The original bartenders knew this, and with cognac they created many classic bar drinks for their patrons. In fact, some of our favourite whisky cocktails, the Mint Julep, the Old Fashioned and the Sazerac were originally mixed with Brandy and Cognac.

The recipes I have selected below (click on the mixed drink servings to go to each recipe page) may seem heretical to today’s Cognac enthusiast; but they are all rooted in the true history of the grape spirit which was the original spirit of choice for bartenders who created mixed drinks and cocktails.

Please enjoy these cocktail servings and if you are interested in other libations, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

Chimo!

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Review: Hine Antique Cognac XO

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 13, 2016

hine-antique-xoThe production of cognac is governed by strict rules designed to guarantee consistency of quality and character in the final spirit. All cognac must be produced from a specific region of France whose appellation was first set out by decree on May 1, 1909. Since 1938, this appellation has been composed of six crus: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bon Bois, and Bois a Terroir. (You can think of each of these crus as specific grape growing regions within the overall appellation.) The grape juice from which cognac is distilled must be produced solely from white grapes which have been grown within the Cognac appellation.

Hine Antique XO Cognac is produced from a blend 40 Cognac spirits in the heart of France’s Cognac appellation on the banks of the River Charente. Every drop of this XO blend is distilled from grapes grown in the Grande Champagne cru. The Grand Champagne regions is the most recognizable Cognac region of France known for consistently producing high quality grape harvests. In addition, all of the eau de vie for this cognac blend have been aged a minimum of 10 years, 4 years longer than required by French law.

Here is a link to my review:

Review: Hine Antique Cognac XO

“… The initial nose is perhaps a tad restrained as scents of  oak spice and vanilla mingle within a fruited caramel aroma. As the glass breathes, I begin to notice a growing herbaceous quality with camphor, menthol and cinnamon weaving themselves into the lightly sweet caramel. Fresh fruit, (apples, pears and apricots) as well as a bits of raisin unravel into the breezes above the glass as well …”

Please enjoy my review, Chimo!

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Note: Hine Antique XO Premier Cru has just released in Ontario as a Specialty Listing on the LCBO for the Christmas Season.

 

 

 

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Cocktail Hour: The Hummingbird

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 12, 2016

It is quite common when mixing tiki drinks to mix two disparate rums with different flavour profiles in order to bring the best of both to the final cocktail. I like to do the same when making cocktails with brandy and cognac. Specifically, I like to mix a young vibrant spirit with a well aged brandy or XO Cognac in sour cocktails. A ribbon of strong overt oak spice (from the well aged spirit) seems to take these cocktails to a whole new level.

hummingbird-sam_2779That is the theme for the following cocktail. (My wife insisted that I call the serving, The Hummingbird, as it is named for the avian visitor which has been dropping by the hanging flowers by our back window this fall.)

Hummingbird

1 oz H by Hine Fine Champagne VSOP (click here for review)
1/2 oz Hine Antique XO Premier Cru
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
3/8 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Sugar Syrup
dash Angostura Bitters
Ice
Twist of Orange Peel

Add the first seven ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the outside of the shaker begins to frost
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with a Twist of Orange Peel

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

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!

Note: My Review for Hine Antique XO Premier Cru Cognac will publish tomorrow, Chimo!

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#12 Camus Extra Elegance (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on December 13, 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 continents, and they are responsible for sales of cognac in almost every country of the world.

CAMUS Elegance Extra

CAMUS Elegance Extra

CAMUS Extra Elegance is a blend of eaux-de-vie produced primarily from the Borderies, Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne regions. The eaux-de-vie which make up the blend are all subject to a long aging process in cool, damp cellars which is said to allow the final blended Extra Elegance to reach its full quality.

Here is a link to my review of the #12 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#12 – Camus Extra Elegance

“… The  initial nose brings forward a rich melding of butterscotch, oak and fresh fruit which smells truly delicious. Fine oak spices, green grapes and hints of butterscotch, maple and apricot brandy tease the breezes above the glass along with bits of vanilla, orange peel spice and nutty almond. As the glass breathes, the oak pushes forward bringing smells of freshly sanded oak and hints of white pepper and spicy sap upward into the air above the glass …”

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

Posted in Awards, Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Cognac Review, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on #12 Camus Extra Elegance (Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits)

#45 Hennessy X.O (Extra Old) Cognac

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 10, 2015

Jas Hennessy & Co., is the largest Cognac producer in the world today with sales that exceed 45 million bottles per year. The company was founded in 1765 by Richard Hennessy who was an Irish Officer in the army of Louis XV. Hennessy XO Cognac traces its development back to 1870 when Maurice Hennessy created a special cognac for him to share with his closest friends. This cognac meant for his ‘inner circle’ was given the name X.O to denote it as an “extra old” cognac. This X.O designation has become a labeling standard used throughout the industry, and today denotes an older Cognac style which must meet a minimum age requirement of 6 years for all of the eaux de vie within  its assemblage.

Hennessy XO SAMHennessy X.O Cognac is produced from the fruity Ugni Blanc grapes which have been harvested from the four great crus of the Cognac region (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois). The grape wine produced is double distilled upon Hennessy Distillery’s copper pot stills, and then selected eaux-de-vie is set down to age in french oak casks.

Here is a link to the review of the #45 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#45 – Hennessy X.O (Extra Old) Cognac

“… The oak did not diminish; however other scents and smells began to climb up into the breezes to greet me. I notice thick fudgey chocolate, Christmas fruitcake, dark baking spices such as allspice, vanilla, cinnamon and clove, as well as rich dark brown sugar, and roasted walnuts …”

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

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#51 Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges

Posted by Arctic Wolf on November 4, 2015

Pierre Ferrand uses only small (25-hectoliter) copper pot stills to produce their Cognac; and after distillation, the resulting distillate (eaux de vie) is matured in 270-liter French Limousin oak barrels. During this aging process, the cognac may rest in any of seven different aging cellars (each with traditional earthen floors). Within each of these cellars, the spirit is monitored, and may be transferred several times during its aging life to different cellars and/or to different oak casks (with differing char levels) to maintain the integrity and character of the spirit.

Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges (599x800)Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges is blended solely from aged eaux de vie produced within the 1st Cru de Cognac, specifically the Grande Champagne Cognac appellation of France. 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 30 years.

Here is a link to the review of the #51 spirit on my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#51 – Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges

“… The immediate nose surprised me with an alluring smell of fresh green grapes accented with butterscotch and honey. I was expecting oak and leather to dominate the breezes, and it was a little exciting to be greeted with this much fresh fruit. As the glass breathes, the oak and leather smells do come forward, melding into the grape and honey while pouring out fine wood spices …”

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

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# 62 Camus XO Borderies

Posted by Arctic Wolf on October 24, 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 continents, and they are responsible for sales of cognac in almost every country of the world.

The construction of the CAMUS XO Borderies begins at the home of Camus within the Borderies cru (the smallest appellation in the Cognac region) with a selection of grapes which are produced mainly from the vines of the Domaines CAMUS Estate. The wine produced from these grapes is distilled on the lees after which the eaux-de-vie is set down to age in French oak barrels.

BORDERIES XO 70CLThe ages of the various XO Borderies eaux-de-vie which make up the blend must be (by law) a minimum of six years of age, although to achieve the desired flavour profile, it would not be unusual for some of the specific Cognac in the blend to be aged much longer, in fact some of the Cognac for the CAMUS XO Borderies may be aged as for long as 30 years.

Here is a link to the review of the #62 spirit in my Rum Howler Top 100 Spirits Countdown.

#62 – Camus XO Borderies

“… The nose is rich with the both the fresh scents of green and yellow fruit and some dryer scents of raisins and dates. The fruit forward aroma is supported by fine oak spices and a light marzipan-like nuttiness which each building softly as the glass sits. Herbal scents of camphor, sweetgrass, menthol and spring willow accent the aroma …”

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

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# 95 Camus XO Elegance (Cognac)

Posted by Arctic Wolf on September 21, 2015

Camus is the last of the major Cognac Houses that is entirely family run, and the House has been run that way for five generations. The construction of their Camus XO Elegance begins with a selection of different styles of eaux de vie in an effort to create a specific floral character suitable for the final Cognac. Specifically mentioned upon the Camus website are the eaux de vie from the Borderies Vineyards which are included in the blend.The distilled spirit is aged in cool damp cellars until the eau de vie reach perfect maturity.

CAM ELEGANCE XO 70CL_WHITE BACKGROUNDAlthough the distilled spirits which make up the Elegance blend must be aged for a minimum of six years, according to Richard Bush, the Area Manager (US Travel Retail, Canada and the Caribbean) for Camus Wines & Spirits, some of the eaux de vie in the Elegance XO blend has been matured for as long as 30 years.

Here is a link to my review of the #95 Spirit in my Rum Howler 2015 Top 100 Spirits Countdown:

#95 – Camus XO Elegance

“… The cognac leads out with oak spices (orange peel, ginger and cardamom) and candied fruit (oranges and apricots and raisins). Vanilla and almond flavours lie underneath with perhaps some dabs of honey. I really like how the sweetness mingles with the hotter oak spices giving the cognac a fresh almost flamboyant character. Some woody tannins pucker the mouth but again the candied sweetness acts beautifully to counterbalance. …”

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

Posted in Awards, Brandy and Cognac Reviews, Cognac Review, Extras | Tagged: , , , , , | Comments Off on # 95 Camus XO Elegance (Cognac)

Some Help on Father’s Day

Posted by Arctic Wolf on June 21, 2015

Dictador Insolent

Dictador Insolent

Today I thought I would give everyone who is scrambling at the last-minute a few suggestions for Father’s Day with the same list of ten spirits which I posted on my refrigerator for my wife and kids. Every item on my list is considered by myself to be a top-notch spirit, however each is available in my local market for less than 100 bucks. That may seem a high watermark for some, but I have three kids and they can chip in together.

Any gift from his list would make any reasonable Dad happy:

1)  Dictador XO Insolent Rum
2)  Ron Millonario XO Reserva Especial Rum
3)  El Dorado 21 Year Old Special Reserve Rum
4)  Booker’s True Barrel Bourbon
5)  Highland Park 12 Year Old Single Malt
6)  Gibson’s Finest Rare 18 Year Old
7)  Wyborowa Exquisite (Wodka)
8)  Botanist Islay Dry Gin 
9)  Corzo Reposado Tequila
10) H by Hine Fine Champagne Cognac (VSOP)

SAM_0699 Graham's Six Grapes

Graham’s Six Grapes

I realize that not everyone can or would want to spend 100 bucks. If you are more budget conscious, then here is a list of ten great budget priced spirits which would still make any Dad happy (including me):

1)  Bacardi 8 Yr Old Rum
2)  Appleton Estate Extra Old 12 Year 
3)  Diplomático Añejo
4)  Ninety “Decades of Richness” 20 Year Old Canadian Rye Whisky
5)  Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey
6)  Alberta Springs Canadian Whisky 
7)  Highwood Premium Vodka
8)  Broker’s Premium London Dry Gin (40 %ABV)
9)  Herencia de Plata (Reposado)
10) W & J Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Port

The two lists are in no particular order, but I have tried to include a good range of spirit types with the emphasis on Rum of course. Hopefully this helps someone, if not for Father’s Day, then maybe for your own personal shopping.

Chimo!

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