Aged Spirits  

Fahrenheit 173 - Brandy

"I'm not an alcoholic, I'm an alcohologist"

Four Cognacs for Christmas

 14 Dec 2011  

Martell VSOP:
Fragrant, rather nice nose with notes of dried fruits (prunes, figs), oak, vanilla and honey. The palate is rich, sweet (honey) and fruity (raisins, orange marmalade) with a note of mint. De­velops spicy oak and grows fairly hot. On the finish the dried fruits return briefly, then it turns oaky, spicy and warming. All in all zesty and en­ter­tain­ing but too hot and spicy. A bit dis­ap­point­ing, actually. (86 p)

Renault Carte Noire Extra:
Subtle, complex and in­ter­est­ing nose with notes of oak, citrus and plums. Also hints of mint and cheese. Light, smooth, clean palate with oak, white pepper and vanilla. It's on the dry side of sweet. Very nice finish with oak, gin­ger­bread and dried fruits. All in all very nice! It's very mild and won­der­fully bal­anced. (Much nicer than a few years ago.) (87 p)

Braastad My Selection:
Complex nose with oak, dried fruits and notes of custard and cheese. Also herbal with notes of black tea and sage. Subtle and a little quiet yet very nice. Rich, sweet, fruity palate with a note of mint. Smooth and bal­anced. Drying, de­velops notes of oak and gin­ger­bread. Oaky, spicy, fairly dry finish. All in all complex, bal­anced and very nice. (88 p)

Bache Gabrielsen Christmas XO:
Fragrant, very nice nose with oak, prunes, vanilla and mint. Rich, sweet, smooth palate. Sweet fruits and spicy oak in a very nice bal­ance. Quite oaky finish with oak shavings, citrus and mint - very nice but perhaps a little too oaky. A rich, extremely well crafted digestif. Will be perfect after the Christmas dinner... (89 p)

Five VSOP Cognacs

 10 Oct 2011  

Croizet VSOP:
Dried fruits, raisins and orange marmalade on the nose - rather nice but a little heavy on the fruits. The palate is light and subtle. Almost bland at first but de­velops spices and a little oak. Spicy, oaky finish with vanilla, dried fruits and apricot marmalade but the oak dominates. At the end there's only dull oak left. Starts with a nice nose but goes downhill from there. (80 p)

Dupuy VSOP:
Fragrant nose with tropical fruits, apricot and passion fruit. Also notes of heather and honey. Quite sweet palate with citrus and toffee. A little rum-like. Also a note of mint and a little oak providing structure. Fairly oaky yet simple finish. All in all it's unusual and unusually sweet. It has fresh citrus fruits rather than dried fruits which is more common in Cognacs. Works best as an aperitif. (81 p)

Albert Jarraud VSOP:
Nice, fresh nose with vanilla, oak, citrus and mint. Nice palate - mild, bal­anced and complex. It's sweet with notes of orange, dried fruits and oak. De­velops more oak, also pepper. Rather nice finish with oak and gin­ger­bread. All in all nice, smooth and complex but a little lacking in character. It's also a little too sweet for my liking. (82 p)

Larsen VSOP:
Very nice nose with notes of oak, plums and caramelized sugar. The palate is mild and sweet, de­velops oak, spices and pepper­mint but also a slightly disturbing earthy note. A little lacking in bal­ance yet rather nice. Lovely finish though, with citrus, mint and oak. (84 p)

Meukow VSOP:
Nice, complex nose with oak, spices, gin­ger­bread, dried fruits (figs) and a hint of cheese. Fairly mild palate with oak and sweetness in a nice bal­ance. Notes of dried fruits, citrus and mint. Complex, rather nice. Nice finish - oaky, spicy and warming. (85 p)

I bought the first three Cognacs while visiting Finland a while back. I had never seen those brands before and now I realize why: they are the three worst VSOP:s I've tried. The Larsen was nice (Larsen is always nice, if unspectacular) and I found the Meukow much nicer than last time I tried it - makes me curious to try their higher-end bottlings.

Four cognacs in the "XO" to "Extra" range

 18 Apr 2011  

Here's a review of four cognacs I bought for a re­cent tast­ing. I also dug out an old favourite - Bisquit VSOP - to use as a reference.

Le Reviseur XO:
Nice nose with dried fruits (prunes, figs), apple pie with cinnamon, mint, vanilla and oak. Rich, sweet, rather nice palate, citrus, mint, custard, drying, de­velops oak and a little heat. Nice finish, yet dry with mostly oak. All in all it's rather nice - and good value. (87 p)

Léopold Gourmel Age des Fleurs:
Fruity nose with dried fruits (plums, figs) and fresh citrus, also oaky with a note of mature cheese - complex, unusual but rather nice. Lively, power­ful, fairly intense palate - nice, sweet and fruity at first but drying, de­velops herbal notes and oak shavings. Hot, dry finish with mostly oak. All in all in­ter­est­ing and quite nice but a little splintered. The most expensive of these five cognacs but tied for the worst... (Ok, the least nice!) (87 p)

Bisquit VSOP:
Mild but very nice nose with oak shavings, figs and citrus. Complex, elegant palate with dried fruits and oak in a beautiful bal­ance. There are also light, fresh notes of custard, citrus and mint. Oaky, spicy, very nice finish. A very nice cognac - the nicest VSOP I've tried and also great value! Sadly, it's rather hard to find. (89 p)

Jean Fillioux Très Vieux:
Fragrant, very nice nose with oak, vanilla, cinnamon and fresh apple juice. Mild palate with oak, raisins, cinnamon and mint. It's drying and de­velops more oak (oak shavings) but also fresh notes of vanilla and citrus - very nice. Oaky, fairly dry yet nice finish. (89 p)

Delamain Vesper:
Subtle, complex nose with oak, cinnamon and black tea, also light notes of vanilla, citrus. Smooth, sweet, bal­anced palate with oak, vanilla and citrus. Very nice! Fairly dry yet very nice finish with oak and vanilla. All in all won­der­fully bal­anced. (90 p)

ABC - Armagnac, Brandy and Cognac

 16 Mar 2011  

I've neglected the area of brandy lately, so I will try to compensate for that this spring. This time I've tasted a few new purchases as well as a couple of samples I found in my backlog. In alphabetical order - "ABC", that is:

Sempé 1990, bottled 2009 (Armagnac, 40%):
Rather nice nose with caramelized sugar and custard (crème brûlée), notes of Curaçao liqueur, oak, plums and raisins. The palate is light, sweet and fruity at first, then drying and de­velops oak. Dry, thin, dis­ap­point­ing finish. Starts out nicely but goes downhill from there. (85 p)

Domaine le Basque 1990, bottled 2010 (Armagnac, 46%):
Rum-like but a little quiet nose with caramelized sugar, dried fruits and oak. Also nutty and herbal with a note of sage. Rich, power­ful palate, fruity and oaky, de­velops vanilla and citrus. Hot, warming finish, also oaky and fairly dry yet quite nice. Needs a little water to tame the fire and the oak. (86 p)

Janneau VSOP (Armagnac, 40%):
Very nice nose with caramelized sugar, custard and vanilla, also citrus and oak shavings. Light, fresh, very nice palate. De­velops oak and a little heat, also a hint of mint. Drying, oaky finish. (87 p)

Osborne Reserva del Toro (Spanish brandy, 36%):
Nice, fresh nose with notes of gin­ger­bread, brown sugar, custard, oak and figs. Mild, sweet palate with toffee, raisins and vanilla. Spicy, slightly fiery finish with a nice oaky note. This is the mildest Spanish brandy I've tried - as well as one of the nicest ones. Sadly, it seems to be discontinued. (86 p)

Larios 1866 Gran Reserva (Spanish brandy, 40%):
Nice fragrant nose with oak, dried fruits (figs, prunes), also caramelized sugar, ginger and vanilla. Quite rich and sweet palate, a bit dense and hard to grasp but very nice with dried fruits and a note of sherry. Also oaky but in a very nice bal­ance. Rather nice finish with oak shavings, raisins and brown sugar. The nicest Spanish brandy I've tried! (Thanks to Lukas for the sample) (87 p)

Guerbé 15 y.o. (Cognac, bottled by Cadenhead at 54.3%):
Quite oaky nose with vanilla, dried fruits and a hint of wood smoke - unusual and subtle yet nice. The palate is oaky, not particularly fruity with a nice bal­ance between oak and sweetness but beyond that it's a little boring. Nice finish with oak, vanilla and a note of orange. All in all it has a nice oakiness but not much else. (85 p)

Lefoulon XO (Cognac, 45%):
Wonderful, fragrant nose with oak, vanilla, ginger, prunes and figs. Rich, rather oaky palate, also fruity with dried fruits. Powerful and full of flavour but not quite bal­anced. It's also a bit too oaky but despite its weaknesses it's quite en­ter­tain­ing. Mostly oak on the finish. Unusually, this Cognac is bottled at 45% which makes it fairly fiery but it mellows with a little water. (87 p)

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More articles in this category:

Five Spanish brandies
A review of Gran Duque de Alba, Lepanto O.V., Lepanto P.X., Mascaró Narciso and Torres 10.

XO Cognac tasting
A review of six Cognacs, mainly XO, from Delamain, Grönstedt, Martell, Otard and Rémy Martin.

Christmas Cognacs
A review of Delamain's and Grönstedt's Christmas XO cognacs compared to their standard XO:s