Well The Cognac Show (Voted Best Drinks Event of 2018 by industry-authority The Drinks Business!) has come … and gone.
But apart from stating the obvious a good time was had by all. Well it certainly looked that way judging by the jovial hubbub and smiling faces that I saw on my visit!
As usual, I didn’t get round every stand, time and the throng of people prevented this; but I thought I’d do a mini-review of some of my highlights of the show.
First up was Hardy Cognac.
Nathalie Egreteau, Hardy’s Western Europe Area Manager, was there to give me a quick introduction to the Hardy Brands.
Maison Hardy owes its name to an authentic English gentleman, Anthony Hardy which he founded in 1863 together with it’s well known cockerel motif as their logo.
I only had time to sample a couple of their Cognacs, the Legend 1863 being one of them and I glad I did!
Released as a tribute to the Cognac world and to the Hardy’s family it has a lovely citrus and creamy vanilla flavour but the most surprising thing was the very satisfying coffee cappuccino flavours that come through at the end. Lovely!
Hardy’s Cognacs are currently only available from The Whisky Exchange but I sense that may change in the future!
Going up to the top floor I was welcomed by the beaming smile of Thibault Maxion from Prunier.
For “eleven generations, the House of Prunier, one of the oldest cognac houses, has learnt how to keep its own history alive together with its identity and esteem for its products. Each member of the family has maintained the motto: quality and respect of local traditions.”
Carrying on this tradition are the current members of the family: Thibault and his brother.
Thibault is the Export Sales Director for Prunier. He concentrates on Sales & Marketing while his brother tends to growing their delicious product!
You can easily tell from listening to Thibault that he really knows his stuff, a Cognac geek, to be sure! He also loves and is justly proud of his families contribution to the Cognac story over the years.
I got to sample their Prunier Vintage 1969 Cognac Grande Champagne, a Grande Champagne Cognac with natural cask strength and limited to just a few hundred bottles.
It’s rich, smooth, fruity and satisfying and available for around the £300 mark which is quite amazing for a Cognac of such age.
Prunier’s Cognacs are available from The Whisky Exchange.
To be introduced to Thibault and his Cognac, check out their YouTube video!
You can also find Prunier on these sites:
Then I had to dash off to a Masterclass ….
Ferrand Cognac Masterclass
The masterclass title was Experimentation & Ageing with the knowledgable and enormously entertaining Alexandre Gabriel (owner and master blender of maisonferrand.com.)
He first treated us to 10 Generations Cognac ( 46%). It celebrates the Ferrand lineage who have passed down their expertise through ten generations, since 1630, ending with Mademoiselle Henriette.
Only made with Ugni-Blanc grapes and distilled slowly on fine lees, it is aged in French oak with 20% in Sauternes casks. This Cognac contains 15 eau de vie with an average age of 8 years old.
Nose: Sweet, vanilla, light apples, pear and plump raisins.
Palate: Sugar sweet, vanilla, light apples and a nice punch of chilli spice!
Ferrand prefers to mature in a humid cellar, rather than a dry one, giving their Cognac a lush mouthfeel.
Alexandre says that although their cognac is matured in wine casks, if you taste the wine in their Cognac, then he considers he has failed. The cask maturation is designed to bring out the flavour characteristics of their spirit.
We then tried a selection of Cognacs (40% ABV) aged for two years in different barrels. Strictly speaking though, they can’t be called Cognac as they’re not aged in oak.
They were in fact aged in a variety of woods: Acacia, Ash, Sycamore and Wild Cherry to give different flavour characteristics.
This led us to our final tasting, that of Renegade Chestnut Wood (47.1%) (some people have described Alexandre as a bit of a Renegade!) which spent time in Oak and Chestnut wood barrels.
This is because in their archives of 1912 they found evidence of ageing in Chestnut and Ferrand’s philosophy is that their creativity feeds of heritage.
Again, it’s Not able to be called Cognac at the present time but things may change as it used to be possible back in the day. For now though, they call it an eau-de-vie de vin.
I enjoyed it though and found it nicely flavoursome!
Nose: Fudge, furniture polish.
Palate: Sweet and nutty intense with vanilla.
Ferrand is available to buy from these Merchants:-