By Matt Goldstein and D. Williams
The Eaux de Vie Congac Trials featured the most famous Cognacs in the world vs. some relative newbies, a virtual unknown and a cheap bottom shelf brandy. Our completely blind tasting featured Courvoisier Exclusif, Remy Martin VSOP, Hennessey Black, Martell VS, Courvoisier VS, Hennessy VS, Conjure and Paul Mason brandy. D. Williams proved himself an expert immediately when he picked out the Remy Martin VSOP right away. That’s impressive, but he drinks that all the time. It was outstanding when he knew he was also drinking the Hennessey Black, a drink which he only had once before and it was merely one glass, 3-4 weeks prior to the tasting. D. Williams is truly a Cognac connoisseur.
The newest Cognac from the Hennessy estate was the clear winner of the blind taste test. It had the perfect smoothness with an excellent bite. Made with at least 2800 grapes in each bottle and aged in 50 year old Oak tree casks, the Hennessy Black is a modern classic Cognac. Twice distilled and made with 35 to 40 different types of eaux de vie, the Hennessy Black is our Cognac of Choice.
Remy Martin VSOP:
With a very good balance and smooth bite, the Remy Martin VSOP is a classic Cognac and one in which can never be a wrong choice. Our number 2 Cognac of the trials, the Remy Martin VSOP Champagne Cognac, was founded in 1724 by a French wine maker of course named Remy Martin. We would give you more information but their web site is downright un-searchable. Wikipedia just can’t be trusted.
The number 3 Cognac of the trial, Martell VS, was simply excellent. Aged for more than 2 years in fine grain Oak barrels, the Martell VS is possibly the best VS in the world. For about $30.00, you can enjoy a Cognac that competes with bottles costing $60 or more.
The number 4 of our Cognac trial, the Courvoisier VS, was simply very good. The VS has great bite, distinctive flavor but yet is still smooth like an exceptionally aged Cognac. Also aged a little longer than the average VS, which is at least 2 years, the Courvoisier has a great aroma. It’s a great buy for around $30.
Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif:
Although it’s an excellent Cognac, for around $50 per bottle, we expected a lot more out of the Courvoisier Exclusif. It was very enjoyable, but all four Cognacs above are a better buy. The Courvoisier web site claims that the Exclusif was designed to be mixed. Mixed? A mixer that costs $50? Please. You’re better off using a $15 brandy. You won’t know the difference, trust us. The Exclusif VSOP is also aged more than the average VSOP, hence the price. But it is a good Cognac none the less.
Although a little too smooth and lacking a little bite, the Hennessy VS was still pretty good. It has a great nose and is just a solid Cognac. A collection of over 40 eaux de vie, the Hennesy VS is made from a recipe that has been around for 145 years. It’s a classic Cognac.
Paul Mason VS Brandy:
This was our control of the experiment. We purchased the cheapest brandy we could find to see if it could beat out a much more expensive Cognac. Guess what? The competition wasn’t even close. See below…
WOW! This is a bad Cognac. It was downright horrible. Mind you, we had no idea what we were drinking as the trial was completely blind. It seemed too strong, kind of like turpentine, but was just plain weak in taste. This Cognac seemed to be missing the Cognac. What we didn’t realize until just now as we were writing the piece; is that this Cognac is made by rap artist Ludacris. I never thought I’d say this, but Ludacris has finally made something worse than his music. I mean, his music isn’t the worst thing on the radio, although that isn’t saying much, but the Conjure is no doubt the worst Cognac on the isle in the liquor store.