Google Cognac 1992-1924 for Christmas

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

December 25, 2021


Cognac 1992-1924 for Christmas

Magazine Ad, USA, 1960


More and more malt enthusiasts are now into cognac as well, which doesn't surprise me one bit. The old archenemies have buried the hatchet, after all many belong to the same multinationals… Now there are many more small indies in cognac, for the time being… An apéritif please…

ean Fillioux 'Très Vieux' (40%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2018)

Jean Fillioux 'Très Vieux' (40%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2018) Three stars
We know that in whisky speak, 'very old' means 'pretty young'. It's rather the same in cognac, 'très vieux' usually meaning 'not quite the youngest we have'. Although let's be honest, this very one's also a XO, even an XO Extra. Before 2016, the youngest eau-de-vie in an XO had to be at least 6, but since 2016 that's become 10. In general, makers would tend to make you believe that theirs are much older than that minimum requirement, while they would often be… right. Colour: deep gold. Nose: a very fresh nose, starting with a little liquorice and going on with a whole basket of fresh cut fruits, such as the usual peaches, mangos, starkrimsons, or even pink bananas and litchis. Then we would find nougat, fudge, maple syrup and distinct whiffs of honeysuckle. Lovely, fresh, elegant. Mouth: absolutely lovely, very elegant, just a tad feeble at this murderous strength. I mean it murders the spirit, certainly not the taster. Old pinot gris, preserved peaches, peach syrup, cantaloupe liqueur, spearmint, eucalyptus syrup… Sadly it crashes and gets flat. Finish: very short. A crying shame. Honey. Comments: they say it is actually 25 years old. That shows, it's fabulous cognac, but the 40% vol. just don't work anymore by today's standards.

SGP:630 - 80 points.

Let's go vertical while staying at Fillioux' in Juillac-le-Coq…

Jean Fillioux 1992 'La Flèche de Feu' (43%, Malternatives Belgium, grande champagne, 252 bottles)

Jean Fillioux 1992 'La Flèche de Feu' (43%, Malternatives Belgium, grande champagne, 252 bottles) Four stars
From their single estate, Domaine de la Pouyade. 43% sure work better than 40%. Colour: gold. Nose: fresher yet, more on apples and pears, plums, even calvados, really. More herbs, peelings, cut apples, hay, green melons this time… And much less on exotic fruits. Mouth: indeed a much firmer expression, with more roots, husks, branches, peelings, grasses… I'm finding even more apples as well, which I love (while they would keep the doctor away, naturally), as well as quinces and greengages, which are some of my pet fruits. Notes of jujubes and even sorb as well. Very complex, behind this slight rustic side. The 43% work perfectly well. Finish: rather long, rounder, with more cakes and honeys. Fresh pears and heather honey in the aftertaste. Comments: a tad austere at times, and in that respect rather the opposite of the very aromatic 'Très Vieux'. Pretty malternative indeedn and very good indeed.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Cognac Grande Champagne 37 yo 1979 (50%, La Distillerie Générale, grande champagne, cask #14557, 35cl, 870 bottles)

Cognac Grande Champagne 37 yo 1979 (50%, La Distillerie Générale, grande champagne, cask #14557, 35cl, 870 bottles) Four stars and a half
This is Martell. The story goes like Martell acquired this third-fill cask (they call that aged casks) in 1984 and then kept it first in a wet warehouse, then in a dry one, until bottling two or three years ago. Colour: gold. Nose: it's rather akin to the first Jean Fillioux on the nose, with a lot of fresh aromatics, except that this one was bottled at a proper strength! A few rose petals and whiffs of dunnage, many raisins, walnuts, pomegranates, oranges, melons, mangos, honeysuckle, lime blossom, then a wide range of Christmas cookies and bredala, especially anis bredala, also figs both fresh and dried, small cigars… Brilliant nose, very complex and ever-developing. I'd love to know who distilled this. With water: some beeswax coming through. We couldn't disapprove. Mouth: a few green tannins, aniseed, verjuice, apple peel… A little gritty at this point, but a little water should help. With water: bingo. Liquorice allsorts, various honeys and nougats, pistachio turon, quince jelly, Lebanese pastries (let's support Lebanon)… This is a perfect palate and probably the best use of Evian (I ran out of Vittel, temporarily). Finish: medium, very fresh and fruity when at +/-45%, exotic, a tad mentholy… In short, all is well. Liquorice in the aftertaste, as happens often. Comments: all is well indeed and we are approaching perfection in my book. Who distilled and first filled this lovely lazy cask?
SGP:651 - 89 points.

Maison Prunier 43 yo 1977/2021 (56.3%, The Purist, Wine4you, petite champagne, 90 bottles)

Maison Prunier 43 yo 1977/2021 (56.3%, The Purist, Wine4you, petite champagne, 90 bottles) Five stars
1977, that's Talking Heads! Colour: light amber. Nose: sumptuously on maple syrup and chestnut honey, with just a little sandalwood and cinnamon in the background. Lovely, but I'm sure there will be more as soon as we've added a little Evian (I insist, we ran out of Vittel). With water: fresh nougat. Is there anything better in this life than fresh nougat that they just cut for you at the nougat factory? Also a drop of Greek retsina wine – but do they make retsina elsewhere? Mouth (neat): tight, punchy, even a little aggressive, with some resinous tannins assaulting your gums. A lot of mint too. Quick, with water: a big boy, we're clearly in old malt territory here. Yep, Macallan. Superb tightness, with some mocha, roasted pecans, Smyrna raisins, black tea, and wee bits of tobacco that you would have got into your mouth from your untipped Craven A or Senior Service… Around when Talking Heads were running the show. Haven't smoked any of those since back then… Finish: long, dry and a little drying, but really right up my alley. Comments: love this kind, it's up there with the best old Speysiders. Loved the wee roughness too.
SGP:561 - 91 points.

Back to the New York Dolls…

Maison Prunier 45 yo 1975/2021 (53.4%, The Purist, Wine4you, grande champagne, 550 bottles)

Maison Prunier 45 yo 1975/2021 (53.4%, The Purist, Wine4you, grande champagne, 550 bottles) Five stars
We had tried another 1975 from la Cave de la Maison Prunier back in October; it was superb (WF 89). Did you notice, this is a grande champagne, while the 1977 was a petite champagne. Colour: deep gold. Nose: woo-hoo… Perfectly tight, compact, focussed old cognac on fudge, maple syrup, peanut butter and old Sauternes. With water: quinces, earl grey, whiffs of engine oil, wee touches of metal polish, and as we sometimes say, the exhaust of a two-stroke Kawasaki. The kind that used to roam our streets back in… 1975. Mouth (neat): superbly tight once again, fully on raisins, quinces, marmalade, figs and toffee. Another big boy that took its time in some wood that knew how to behave. With water: crème de menthe, Bénédictine and Chartreuse! What a cask. Finish: long, herbal and sweet, a tad piney and unexpectedly refreshing. Love this. Comments: this one too clicks all buttons here at Château Whiskyfun. Some friends 'might' find it a tad rustic here and there, as rustic as the New York Dolls in 1975, precisely. But I would disagree.

SGP:661 - 91 points.

Further back…

Hermitage 1960 (47%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2019)

Hermitage 1960 (47%, OB, grande champagne, +/-2019) Five stars
Such a charming mention on the label, "Cognac d'une époque ancienne". Pure poetry. We've already tried a few glories by Hermitage, and what's more this one won The Cognac Trophy & Gold Outstanding Award at the IWSC 2020. But we sure won't crack under pressure, as they would say at TAG Heuer's… Colour: amber. Nose: the most deluxe pancake sauce ever. Wonderful toffees, blacker honeys, cured hams (old Parma, Iberico), chestnut liqueur from the Ardèche, and just the most wonderful rancio wines and Banyuls. Some stunning earthiness too. Mouth: no excessive wood at all, that's sorted. Some pine needles, chocolate, crème de menthe, verbena liqueur, chestnut honey, mocha, thin mints… This kind of English chocolate and mint combo just always works in my book, you just have not to think about Boris Johnson. Oops, too late. Finish: rather long, a tad jammier, earthier, with a little sorrel and fresh mint. And rancio, obviously. Comments: by the way, 1960 is my year. Perfect old cognac by the house Hermitage.

SGP:461 - 90 points.

Further down the years…

Fins Bois N°52-22 (46.5%, Jean Grosperrin, L 869, +/-2020)

Fins Bois N°52-22 (46.5%, Jean Grosperrin, L 869, +/-2020) Four stars and a half
In theory, according to some trustworthy friends, this is a blend of 1952 and 1922, the 1922 accounting for one fifth of the whole vatting. Colour: amber. Nose: it is a rather rounded one, meady, pretty much on honeys, beeswax, pollens and then quince jelly. Quince jelly being the next best thing after Zeus's very own ambrosia. Goes on with a little menthol, a little eucalyptus and myrtle liqueurs from Corsica, then a pretty Asian meaty/saucy combo. That sweeter sauce they would give you with Chinese dumplings, which I just adore in my deepest pores (what?) Mouth: a grittiness from some old piney woods, some liquorice wood, more myrtle liqueur (not very common), mead, pine resin, and then some sweet wine, like the ones they make in Sicily. Or on Pantelleria. And sultanas. Finish: medium, perhaps a tad oaky and drying now, getting a little fragile. Comments: I was having it at 90 - and easily – before the finish. Upper-echelon old cognac. Mind you, 1922, that was when Jack Kerouac was born.

SGP:461 - 89 points.

Maison Prunier 'Lot 50' (57%, The Purist, Wine4you, grande champagne, 126 bottles, 2021)

Maison Prunier 'Lot 50' (57%, The Purist, Wine4you, grande champagne, 126 bottles, 2021) Four stars
Seventy years and hundred proof, you read that right. Colour: ember. Nose: of course it's not tired, at 100 proof! Chocolate and raisins, kougelhopf, roasted chestnuts, palo cortado, then spicy cakes and biscuits. Clove cookies, anis bredala, Läckerli, ginger cookies… Some curious notes of stout too, chocolate beer, maduro cigars, glutamate, miso, umami… But boy is it vigorous, at 70 years old! Incredible… With water: we're now in malty territories. Game, cold cuts, pot ale, garden earth, pumpernickel… Mouth (neat): a lot of punch and certainly some tannins. Grape pips, pumpkin seeds, grapefruit skin, many fruit peelings, tight sultanas, mint syrup, cough medicine… But remember, 57% vol. I find it amazing that the distinguished bottlers wouldn't have reduced it to come up with 20% more bottles. Great ethos. With water: don't, it would make it too piney, gritty and drying. Oh just keep it at 57% vol (As we know, only fools never change their mind.) Finish: very long, a little grassy, with green tannins. Oversteeped tea. A lot of menthol ad pine needles in the aftertaste. Comments: this one was a tough wrestler. Not an easy one after the very stunning 1977 and 1975 Pruniers.
SGP:351 - 86 points.

Maison Prunier 74 yo 1946/2021 (49.5%, The Purist, Wine4you, grande champagne, 30 bottles)

Maison Prunier 74 yo 1946/2021 (49.5%, The Purist, Wine4you, grande champagne, 30 bottles) Five stars
Imagine the mood that used to prevail in 1946 in France. Shall we call this one freedom cognac? Colour: amber. Nose: this one's eternally fresh and integrally fragrant. Amazing whiffs of wee flowers (woodruff, lilies of the valley, borage) plus caramel cream, praline, nougat and even, yes in a 74 years old cognac, some caramel-coated popcorn! Brought by the GIs, I would imagine. What's sure is that this one's fresher than the 1950. Mouth: yep! Fewer tannins and more crystallised fruits, some herbal teas (chamomile), a moderately invasive cinnamon, same with nutmeg, then dried dates filled with marzipan (a delicacy that I'll always cherish) as well as touches of Lebanese – and Turkish – arrack.  Distilled figs. This very old cognac wanted to play and have fun. Finish: rather long and complex, with some black nougat this time, puréed chestnuts, softer peppers and cloves (soft paprika?) and  lovely chocolate/coffee combo in the aftertaste. Comments: woo-hoo! Isn't Ronnie Wood 74 too? Wonderful old fruity cognac, an ode to old age and maturity.

SGP:561 - 90 points.

Little cognac made during the war, the men were too busy and the women even more so. While the occupying forces (we're friends now) were rather busy downing the stocks that had not been properly hidden…

Grande Champagne N.39 (44.3%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore, 2021)

Grande Champagne N.39 (44.3%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore, 2021) Five stars
War broke out on September 1, 1939, but they still managed to harvest and distil this vintage, as Cognac was in the 'free zone' anyway (zone libre). Remember, with brandies, the vintage refers to when the grapes were harvested. Colour: deep gold. Nose: yes, some oils and even a little petrol, over a most nutty nose, full of walnuts, almonds, pecans and even roasted sesame seeds. Also embrocations, sauna oils, Barbour grease, a little paraffin, and linseed oil. Not a lot of fruits, but that's very okay as we do love all these nutty flavours. Mouth: you cannot not think of some very old Sauternes. Wee mushroomy notes, botrytis, some cocoa powder, apricot jam, dried apricots mumps, then an unfolding on raisins, resins and mints. It is just flabbergasting that this baby wouldn't be tired and woody – and it even made it to Singapore! Finish: medium and a little drying, which is totally normal. Very piney aftertaste. They wouldn't say but it's not impossible that this baby would be, wait, 80 years old or even a little more. By the way, we've kept the Glenlivet 80 yo G&M for Christmas. Doesn't charity begin at home? Comments: incredible, even if this is more a Botticelli than a Koons. Yeah we do agree.

SGP:461 - 91 points.

We've also got a '39 Prunier, mind you…

Maison Prunier 81 yo 1939/2021 (43.2%, The Purist, Wine4you, petite champagne, 42 bottles)

Maison Prunier 81 yo 1939/2021 (43.2%, The Purist, Wine4you, petite champagne, 42 bottles) Four stars
Eighty-one-years-old! That even beats G&M' latest 'livet! Colour: dark red amber. Nose: you wouldn't get the fracas of the cannons yet, indeed. It is actually a softer, fragrant, floral, peaceful petite champagne, full of buttercups, lilies, gorse, then Parma ham, mead, very old chardonnay, and just old beeswax, presbytery (careful) and root. Beets, gentian, celeriac and wartime Jerusalem artichokes. The notes of gentian would never stop growing, which I find surprising and totally amazing in such a very old cognac. Mouth: sure the oak feels, and it would feel a lot, with sour herbs and a lot of hay, but you ned to intellectualise all this, right. The better news is that some tropical fruits keep fighting in there, especially pineapples and guavas. Guavas are to be found in the most unlikely spirits. Not saying this is unlikely, it's just that old age feels. Oh well, I know what I'm trying to say. Finish: medium and dry and herbal. Comments: we're probably touching the limits of old age in any spirits. I find it also a little moving to imagine the distillers doing their work while knowing that the mighty Wehrmacht would probably take the land over sooner or later. And drink it all (quite), as the Germans used to be dedicated sponges. 'Schnaps, das war sein letztes Wort…' usw…  

SGP:371 - 86 points.

Let's further push it…

Maison Prunier 89 yo 1931/2021 (40.6%, The Purist, Wine4you, fins bois, 42 bottles)

Maison Prunier 89 yo 1931/2021 (40.6%, The Purist, Wine4you, fins bois, 42 bottles) Four stars
89 years old, this is becoming scary, but I've heard it's Keith Richards who distilled this one in his spare time…  Eighty-nine, Neunundachtzig, ottantanove, quatre-vingt-neuf, ochenta y nueve, ???! Colour: gold. Nose: it is not the most tired of then all, I'm even finding all these notes of nougat and biscuits fresh and lively. Some green bananas, dandelions, pistachios, macadamia nuts, carrots, apples… It is a very old spirit, wise, appeased and serene, and not tired in any way. Wonderful herbalness in the background, we could almost mention old Tarragone chartreuse, but green bananas remain at the lead all along. Mouth: amazing, it is not dead, neither has it become too tea-ish, it is even rather fresh, with plums and old white wines, white Bourgogne, rieslings, some moderate oaky spiciness, and rather a lot of banana skin. Banana skin remains a sign of old age, having said that. I mean, in spirits aged in oak, not in humans. Finish: medium, with some fruits and some herbs. Bananas skin again, guava, plantains… Comments: a miracle. Unless I'm wrong, this is truly the oldest spirit I've ever tried. We're talking age in wood, naturally, not age in demijohns or bottles, which would be too easy and, actually, illegal. Crazy.

SGP:361 - 87 points.

Shall we try a last one? I mean, one that was distilled 97 years ago?

Grande Champagne N.24 (43.6%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore, 2021)

Grande Champagne N.24 (43.6%, Grosperrin for The Auld Alliance Singapore, 2021) Five stars
1924, wow, that's Otto Dix's time, Edward Hopper's, Paul Klee's, Paul Whiteman's, Ma Rainey's, Fauré, Sibelius, Copland and Erik Satie's… It is so totally moving to taste a liquid that's seen those times and breathed the same air… Colour: deep red amber. Nose: this cannot be, this is fresh as a daisy in a morning in June, this has various flowers, wisteria, peonies, lilies, jasmine… This has stunning honeys, nuts, quinces (hurray), more quinces, even more quinces… Wait, this is pure liquid quince jelly, king of fruits and queen of all aromas that are to be found in any aged spirits. Masterful old cognac on the nose. Mouth: ooh… How can this be? Beyond the wee piney, resinous, propolis-like flavours that might be a tad 'too much' (but S., 97 years!) these dried and crystallised fruits are just utterly stunning. Please call the Anti-OldSpiritPorn brigade! Quinces first, they keep leading the pack, then figs, dried longans or rambutans, jujubes, tiny berries, sorb, checkerberries, holly, elderberries… Don't we just love them all? Unsweetened Darjeeling tea taking over after ten minutes, which was to be expected. Finish: not the longest ever. Cocoa powder, ground coffee, dry tobacco… Some sweeter, fresher berries in the aftertaste. Elderberries and friends. Comments: as they say in brochures and now on Instagram, this is fascinating. You would not judge it only 'technically' (f**k that) the wow effect being what's really important here.  Mind you, 97 years. Ninety-seven, quatre-vingt-dix-sept, siebenundneunzig, novantasette, noventa y siete, Kyû-jû-shich, whatever.

SGP:461 - 91 points.

If they ever do a 1907, may I suggest they call it 'Nationale 7'?

In the words of Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, 'au revoir'.

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