Did you know that one of the oldest known drinks, The Sazerac, originally called for cognac? According to Hennessy, Cognac started the Sazerac and here is their take on the classic cocktail and Hennessy makes one of the best Sazeracs around. Muddle ½ oz. simple syrup, 3 dashes of bitters, 1½ oz. Hennessy V.S and ice in a glass. Remove the ice and in a chilled glass pour a small amount of absinthe over the ice. Discard the liquid, and add the flavored ice to the whiskey. Stir and serve!
A collection of over 40 eaux de vie, the Hennessy VS is made from a recipe that has been around for 145 years. It’s a classic Cognac. The Hennessy VS is aged at least 2 years, the VSOP is aged at least 4 years and the XO is aged at least 6 years.
While Western economies lag and struggle to recover, the economic rise of China is having a major impact on the world of wine and spirits. Already breaking their own records for importing wine from France and Napa Valley, the new middle class in China also has taste for Cognac, the pricey French brandy made from white wine grapes, and many times champagne grapes. The three major players in Cognac, Hennessy, Remy Martin & Courvoisier are enjoying a 20% increase in exports to China and Cognac overall sold 162.9 million bottles in 2011. That’s more than 1 bottle of Cognac for every 43 people on earth. The Far East region saw an overall increase of 14.4%.
Too bad for Hennessy that Kim Jong Il has passed because the former North Korean Dictator, or as we like to call him, the “Dear Leader,” was largest single purchaser of Hennessy Cognac and Cognac overall in the history of the world. Spending about $700,000 dollars a year on his favorite $630 bottle of Hennessy, the “Dear Leader” drank like a fish while his people starved to death.
Demand for Cognac in the West rose slightly but the numbers aren’t even worth mentioning and certainly not indicative of a boom. However, wine and craft beer have had major surges in the United States over the last couple years and show no signs of slowing down.
Remy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac is introducing a mature Cask Finish VSOP and rumors are swirling that Remy Martin will discontinue their staple cognac. Rest assure, we believe these rumors are completely untrue. Why would Remy Martin discontinue their biggest seller? Exactly. Now onto the important stuff, the real stuff. The new Remy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish will be made with Grande and Petite Champagne eaux de vie and aged for an additional year in 20-year-old Limousin oak barrels. We’re excited about trying this new, more mature and hopefully more complex cognac by Remy Martin and need not worry; the Remy Martin VSOP is not going anywhere.
The Tasting Panel Magazine has declared their 2011 Spirit of the year to be the Comandon XO Cognac, which retails for about $150 a bottle. The Comandon XO was also declared the best Cognac of 2010 at the San Francisco International Spirit Competition and won the ever coveted double gold medal for Cognac. Comandon Cognac has been made since about 1821 in France, in the Cognac region of course. The average age of spirits in the XO blend is 25 years and the grapes are a blend of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois.
COMANDON Cognac “Extra Old” (XO) is a harmonious blend of eighty eaux-de-vie from the four best terroirs of the Cognac region selected for character and softness. It is aged for between 20 and 30 years in red Limousin oak casks that enhance our cognac with subtle aromas. The result of this superior blend is a limited production authentic cognac XO.
This is a prime example of an ‘extra-old’ cognac. This XO cognac delivers a reference of what makes a sensual and exact great tasting mature XO. The focus is not on building a ‘pedigree’ but to produce immediate and accessible pleasure for all.
Tasting Notes from Comandon:
The first wave of aromas and flavors offers a dense fruity overtone of orange and passion fruit. Its subtle almond bouquet also has floral overtones of wild roses and violets. Then, it evolves into more concentrated notes of chocolate and coffee, melting into a mocha theme. It has a very deep mahogany color accented by brilliant glints of red flames. The Comandon Cognac XO is rich and concentrated, with superb balance dominated by buttery vanilla and chocolate with hints of sweet leather notes. A powerful cognac with a long structure of oak, fruits and spices that makes for a full bodied but refined cognac, with excellent lingering qualities in the mouth for over 20 minutes.
After releasing Courvoisier 12 years aged and Courvoisier 21 years aged, Courvoisier now releases the Rose, a blend of signature Cognac and French red wine grapes. At a very low alcohol percentage, 18.0%, the Courvoisier is designed to be a sweet, easy drinking liqueur. Sipping more like a sweet wine than a strong Cognac, the Rose Courvoisier is designed to be market to the African American community as Rose wine has taken off in that demographic. In fact, African Americans single handedly saved the Cognac industry when it became the trend to drink Cognac. Not a bad move because we love us some Courvoisier. Review coming soon. A 750ml bottle of Courvoisier Rose has a suggested retail price of $24.99.
Courvoisier Rosé-a first-of-its-kind cognac innovation. An elegant blend of Courvoisier Cognac and premium French red wine grapes, its refreshing and smooth taste makes it perfect for any occasion.
The fusion of ripe summer fruits, like blackberry and peach, combine perfectly with the aromatic complexity of Courvoisier, creating a smooth and sensual flavour explosion.
Colour: Deep maroon
Blend: Courvoisier cognac with a touch of superior French red wine grapes
Aroma: Blackberry, blackcurrant and a touch of cherry, along with notes of vanilla, honey and vine-peach flavours
Taste: Round, smooth, and crisp in the mouth with a delicious aftertaste
Neat: For ultimate refreshment, Courvoisier Rosé is best served chilled or sipped over ice in the summer.
Cocktails: The intense fruit flavours and renowned smoothness of Courvoisier Rosé makes it the perfect accompaniment with Champagne or orange juice.
To continue with our summer cocktail recipes; the fine folks at Hennessy like to add a little lime twist to their Cognac & Coke. This is one of the easiest cocktails you can possible make so stop wining, mix a drink, and kick back and enjoy yourself. Combine 1½ oz Hennessy V.S and ½ oz lime juice. Add 3½ oz cola, and you’ve got a citrus twist on a classic!
Last year marked the 500th anniversary that the French Benedictine Monk Dom Bernardo Vincelli concocted Benedictine. It was lost over the annals of time before another French merchant discovered the Benedictine recipe that is is a subtle alchemy of 27 different plants and spices. According to the producers of (B&B) Benedictine D.O.M. in 1863, in the process of sorting out some very old family papers, a wine merchant in Fécamp, with the evocative name of Alexandre Le Grand, came across an old recipe book that has been tucked away in his library for years. Although he had extensive knowledge on how to produce wine and spirits, it took him years to unravel the secret recipe of the monk Vincelly. He also chose to keep the indication D.O.M., the motto of the Benedictines standing for Deo Optimo Maximo (God infinitely good, infinitely great). It also refers to the Latin word Dominus (Master) given to Benedictine abbots.
Even today, the recipe for Benedictine is a closely guarded secret. On a side note, I think Benedictine is used to make a Singapore Sling. But I prefer mixing it with Brandy. Essentially, what we know as B&B today was invented in the 1930’s by a bartender in the famous Club Twenty One in New York who thought to mix this interesting Benedictine Liqueur with Brandy. Thus, B&B as we know it was invented. It was originally 86 proof up until the late 1970’s and today it is an even 80 proof spirit.
I was first introduced to B&B some time ago amongst some family members with a slight dusting of alcoholism who sought to run up the bar tab at some function. Not having much of a developed palate at the time and being relatively young, I still enjoyed the liqueur. The sweet and spice of the Benedictine really enhanced the nice burn of the cognac. Today, B&B is one of my favorite after dinner drinks.
If you are a beginner to the world of cognac, I would recommend starting out with some B&B to ween into the appreciation of good cognacs. Also, I would also try making your own B&B by scoring a bottle of straight Benedictine and mixing it with your favorite cognac. Cheers!
Try signature Domaine de Canton Maragrita. Domaine de Canton is a small batch liqueur made with the finest eaux de vie in France; XO and VSOP Grand Champagne Cognacs only. With ginger root from Indo China, the Canton is then hand made with all natural ingredients; Tahitian vanilla beans, Provencal honey, and Tunisian ginseng. According to their web site, “Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur was inspired by the French tradition in which sweet and fresh elixirs were fortified by fine eaux de vie and Cognac. Domaine de Canton is simply one of the best liquors in the world, no question about it.
1 1/2 PARTS DOMAINE DE CANTON
1 PART SILVER TEQUILA
1/2 PART FRESH LIME JUICE
Shake and strain over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
*Optional: Muddle 2 slices of seranno chili into cocktail for an extra
VSOP Eaux De Vie Are Aged At Least 4 Years in French Oak Barrels
By Matt Goldstein
Hennessy Privilege VSOP Cognac is an accomplished blend of 60 different eaux de vie from 4 regions of Cognac, France. VSOP eaux de vie are aged no less than four years in French oak barrels. In 1817, the future King of England George IV, ordered a Very Superior Old Pale eaux de vie from Hennessy. The term VSOP was born. The Hennessy Privilege VSOP has a sweet scent with notes of dried fruit and oak. The flavor is complex, sweet, and tangy with a thick mouth feel. Having notes of nut and vanilla with a flavorful aftertaste and solid bite, yet exceptionally smooth, this is the VSOP all Cognacs should strive to be.
It wasn’t until 1865 that Hennessy began using VS, or very special, in which the eaux de vies are aged at least 2 years. Finally, in 1870, Hennessy Cognac introduces the XO, in which the eaux de vies are aged for at least 6 years.
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. The Exclusif really grows on you. It’s taken time for this Cognac to grow on us but after drinking the Courvoisier Exclusif on 6 different occasions, this drink is definitely elite.
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 Hennessy VS is made from a recipe that has been around for 145 years. It’s a classic Cognac. This is a best buy pound for pound for your dollar.