Google Supersonic Cognacs, or another verticale, in two parts

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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

May 29, 2022


  A word of caution
Let me please remind you that my humble assessments of any spirits are done from the point of view of a malt whisky enthusiast who, what's more, is aboslutely not an expert in rum, brandy, tequila, vodka, gin or any other spirits. Thank you – and peace!



Supersonic Cognacs, or another verticale, in two parts

We've had rather a lot of rum and armagnacs these past Sundays, so it is cognac time again. This could be a rather long session, even if we'll select only very high-flyers, so I would say we'll do it in two parts… As a for our traditional apéritifs, how about this, before we start to go down the vintages?... (Picture Musées de la Ville de Cognac, Braud Christian)



Prunier 10 ans d'âge (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2020)

Prunier 10 ans d'âge (40%, OB, cognac, +/-2020) Three stars
The old négociants house Prunier created this blend of only four to six different cognac. They were founded even before Glenturret (1775, allegedly), that is to say in 1769. Colour: rich gold with orange hues (might suggest E150). Nose: very fragrant, rather on maple syrup, juicy sultanas, preserved peaches, apricots and mirabelles, then a touch of liquorice and nougat. In the background, clear whiffs of menthol and thyme honey. A relative simplicity makes for an asset here. Mouth: much more floral on the palate, a little acidic as well, with touches of Seville oranges and some kind of orange-flavoured icing. Would tend to become a little leafy and grassy too, almost a wee bit bitterish. Green tannins. It's to be said that a low strength never helps. A tiny feeling of soap as well. Finish: medium, leafy, slightly leathery and even malty (extracts). Comments: a very fair warm-me-up. We're not really used to these ranges.

SGP:451 - 80 points.

Fanny Fougerat 2011 'Marin' (40%, OB, Fins Bois, 1050 bottles, +/-2020)

Fanny Fougerat 2011 'Marin' (40%, OB, Fins Bois, 1050 bottles, +/-2020) Four stars
An interesting composition, with a rather young fins bois that was finished in French oak that had spent one year at an oyster-farmer's on the isle of Ré before coopering, which should have made those casks rather 'coastal'. It's to be noted that the isle of Ré itself is part of the appellation 'bois ordinaires' in Cognac. Colour: white wine. Nose: as we sometimes say, the problem with knowing about stories is that you cannot not feel them when you try the spirit. This is, indeed, rather coastal, somewhat ala Bruichladdich. Green melon skins found on a beach on the Atlantic (true personal story), notes of stalk and pips, plums both fresh and tinned, paraffin, a touch of 'good' rubber (inner tubes), a little shoe polish… This sure isn't your average cognac. Mouth: definitely meta, tight, really malty this time, grassy, even kind of bready, geared towards spicy orange zests and dry sherry, with also notes of or marc that do respond to the stalks and pips that were in the nose. A very pleasant wee tight and fresh cognac (could we use the word wee with cognac?). Finish: not that short despite the low strength, and, drumroll, rather a little salty indeed. The aftertaste is a tad bitterer. Comments: meta indeed, so pleasantly a little hybrid, and indeed a little malty. Probably a great apéritif too. Didn't find the oysters though.

SGP:462 - 86 points.

By the way, you could wonder if it wouldn't have been easier to use ex-whisky barrels, why not ex-Laphroaig for example, which is what more and more Scots are doing these days (which we call in-cask blending, the wettest the cask, the better, right…) But good news, that's not allowed in Cognac, all you could use is new oak, refill cognac, or ex-wine, which is a new trend we're fine with, as long as they're transparent. Indeed, sherry is wine.
Now, you could use some ex-Laphroaig hogsheads and call it brandy instead of Cognac, I would suppose… Anyway...

Normandin-Mercier 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Cerbaco Australia, +/-2021)

Normandin-Mercier 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, for Cerbaco Australia, +/-2021) Five stars
A joy to a little Frenchman to taste a French spirit that flew back from Australia. I've seen some of these 'Très Vieille Grande Champagne' by Normandin-Mercier being advertised as having spent more than one century in the 'chais'. They do also seem to promote the use of refill wood, for longer agings and subsequently, a higher complexity. Exactly what many Scots should do as well again, if you ask me. By the way, sure we could have waited before trying this old glory within this line-up, but at 40% vol, better safe than sorry. I mean, early than too late. Colour: bronze amber. Nose: liquid for the Gods. Flabbergasting flowers and ripe fruits. I mean, all of them, from all continents. To keep this short, I would say this translates into some kind of all-flower honey of extremely high extraction. And with these tiny meaty touches here and there, I cannot not think of G&M's oldest Glen Grants, as I just tried two of them. Glorious, very poetic nose, even wondering if this wasn't wartime cognac, as we have this little saying here, that goes like 'wartime cognacs were the best because the women made them'. But perhaps has this become a sexist remark? Mouth: what a relief that it hadn't been flattened-down by reduction, even if we would dream of a higher strength. Heather and linden honey, definitely a lot of rancio, chestnut honey, some sweet ham, touches of molasses, surely some tobacco, miso, a drop of brown beer (whoops, another crime a lese-majesty!) Really moves towards pipe tobacco over time. Probably dark tobacco, which was what people were smoking when this was distilled. Finish: not very long – it couldn't be very long – but superbly right between honeys and bouillons. Dry aftertaste, which is totally normal. Comments: fairly staggering very old grande champagne. We'd love to know a little more about 'what's inside', rather than speculate aimlessly!

SGP:561 - 92 points.

Naturally, we've gone too high already, but we'll manage, let's just have cognacs by great houses…

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo LOT88/2022 (47%, Maltbarn, Bon Bois, 142 bottles)

Vallein Tercinier 33 yo LOT88/2022 (47%, Maltbarn, Bon Bois, 142 bottles) Five stars
Remember, in theory, Fins Bois > Bons Bois > Bois Ordinaires. In practice, I could never, ever reproduce or validate this old ranking when trying the cognacs. Having said that, I insist, I'm extremely far from being an 'expert'. Colour: gold. Nose: typical Bon Bois. I am joking! Now, I'm finding some lovely mentholated and liquoricy fruits, in fact some kind of complex fruit salad seasoned with liquorice, mint and honey. Emphasis on melons and papayas. Behind that, some delicate fresh herbs, sorrel, dill, parsley, coriander… Actually, this is a perfect nose, rather well in the style of Vallein Tercinier, including those of their much older vintages. We're even reminded of the superlative 1965s in a way… Mouth: stands firmly on its feet after the old Normandin-Mercier. Rather more tropical than other makes more on, mangos and pink bananas, melons, also honeys and juicy dried fruits (mainly high-class raisins from selected sources). Oranges and more honey, sublime liquorice. Perfect focus here, it tastes like it speaks (we'll explain that later…) Finish: rather long, lovingly compact. Marmalade, liquorice and honey, no other trio works better. Orange blossom water in the aftertaste. Comments: almost a fruit bomb, beautifully compact rather than actually complex, which works just as well in my little book. And 'drinks too well'.

SGP:641 - 90 points.

Let's go further down the vintages…

No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022)No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022)

No.73 Héritage (54.6%, J. Grosperrin for Passion for Whisky, Petite Champagne, 2022) Five stars
As we said, only our preferred houses. Oh and 1973, that's the year of that utterly stunning FZ gig in Sweden while Jean-Luc Ponty was still on board. Check 'Dupree's Paradise 1973' on YouTube, but first, back to this wee Petite Champagne from the same year… Colour: full deep gold. Nose: it is not explosive but we know that's the strength. I would say high levels of alcohol may block brandies a little more than whiskies (at the same ABVs). Cake à l'orange, Jaffa cakes, raisins and dried figs, rather a lot of black nougat and cappuccino… But it really calls for water. With water: that worked. Old Meursault and crushed bananas, warm praline, warm raisin rolls, lemon balm, with honeysuckle and acacia flowers in the background… Luminously fresh. Mouth (neat): no blockage on the palate, this is almost monstrous, with tons of marmalade and orange blossom water. Huge, massive arrival and a development to match, extremely potent and flavourful, on tons of orange-blossom honey. Spectacular. With water: it remains a little tightly focussed on citrus, especially anything oranges including orange blossom honey. That too is an asset, there's just nothing even remotely out of place in the way. Finish: same. Comments: sublimely simple, like a Miro, but please place your bottle under lock and key.

SGP:641 - 91 points.

Looks like we've reached cruising speed (on a German autobahn)…

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 68-72' (66.6%, Wet Drams, Grape of the Art, Fins Bois, cask #21, 276 bottles)

Jean-Luc Pasquet 'Lot 68-72' (66.6%, Wet Drams, Grape of the Art, Fins Bois, cask #21, 276 bottles) Five stars
A +/-50 years old Fins Bois for Germany that comes with good details, such as the fact that it was distilled integrally from ugni blanc, in a 12hl pot still, by Monsieur André Porchet, and aged in a dry cellar. As for this devilish strength of 66.6% vol. after so many years, it might just go to prove that indeed, it was a very dry cellar. Inferno! Forgot to say, I love this label. I say bottles should help decorate our homes, not generate any visual pollution and make our lounges look like a Disney shop (apologies, friends). Colour: deep gold. Nose: acetone, ammonia, then hot caramel and rum. But no worries yet… With water: needs time… There, liquorice coming out, herbs, fern and moss, fruit peel, banana skin, melons, also some damp chalk, clay, green tea, then more honey, cakes… Oh come on, we don't have all the time in the world…  Mouth (neat): herbal syrups? Chartreuse elixir? Once again, that's the strength… With water: goes from these chartreuse-y, earthy notes to a glorious mentholy and liquoricy fruitiness – within a good fifteen minutes. Finish: extremely long. Comments: they should deliver this bottle with a free bottle of Vittel and a good pipette. And a good book since it's so slow… Almost a DIY old cognac; a superb one if you take your time.
SGP:461 - 90 points.

Godet 1970/2017 (43%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Japan, cask #FB0021, 132 bottles)

Godet 1970/2017 (43%, OB, Petite Champagne, for Taiwan, cask #FB0021, 132 bottles) Five stars
They say cask strength but are really 43% 'cask strength'? Could be! The house Godet's located in La Rochelle, on the shores of the Atlantic. Curious to try some cognac selected by some Japanese experts (namely the company 99 Bottles Co., ltd) Colour: pure gold. Nose: whether you agree or not, 43% is easier and friendlier than 66.6%. Exceptional acacia honey, dandelions, golden sultanas, preserved mirabelles and Sauternes. That's more or less it, but I love this easy, fresh, aromatic nose. Mouth: alert! Warning! This drinks too well! Incredible easiness, between Sauternes indeed and a sweet Jurançon, or even something by Alois Kracher. Hope those stunning wines will make a comeback soon. So, syrup in your glass, nectar, honeys, orange liqueur, precious meads… This is not cognac, it's liquid sin. Amazing toasted brioches in the background, with a drizzle of maple syrup and apple wine. I mean, Canadian frozen apple wine, another sin. Finish: medium, clear, fresh, immensely aromatic and, as we say in Alsatian, 'rutschig'. Comments: rutschig just means that it drinks too well. They should add warning stickers to the bottles.
SGP:741 - 91 points.

Good, since we're in 1970…

Maison Tribot 'V.70 A.51' (50.3%, Old Master Spirits, for Australia, Grande Champagne, 120 bottles, +/-2021)

Maison Tribot 'V.70 A.51' (50.3%, Old Master Spirits, for Australia, Grande Champagne, 120 bottles, +/-2021) Five stars
So 51 years old, vintage 1970. I think it is the first time I'm trying a cognac from this old little house Tribot, all that thanks to some friends in Australia. Colour: deep gold. Nose: some firmness here, hints of calvados, then leaves and stems, then golden raisins, then honeys and various dried and preserved fruits. It never stops getting fruitier and more aromatic. Awesome notes of peaches and apricots, fresh, overripe and preserved. Superb development, from slightly tough to almost extravagant. With water: hold on, what a beautiful herbal unfolding! Parsley and coriander, then tins and coins, apple peel, dunnage and damp cellar, touch of camphor, marrow, white truffle, cigar ashes, a tiny drop of aged balsamico… Wow, a few drops of water unlocked a whole new world of aromas! Mouth (neat): I don't think this needs any water this time. Wonderfully caky and gritty at the same time, then on liquorice and tobacco, with a touch of menthol. Oh there... With water: no, water is crucial, it would unleash strictly all honeys and dried fruits of the creation. Finish: medium, honey, peaches, oranges. Comments: not many aged spirits can beat this these days. Old Macallans are in sight (1950s). One thing though, do not forget to add a few drops of H2O, even if it was bottled barely above 50% vol.

SGP:651 - 93 points.

Good, let's stop this on a super-high note. What a session! Next Sunday we'll go further down the vintages, way down… See you, à la prochaine.

(Mille mercis Dani, Emile, Hideo, Nicolas)







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