Cognac D’Usse VSOP

Maker: Chateau de Cognac, Cognac, Charente, France. (Bacardi)20160929_162624.jpg

Region: Blend.

Age category: VSOP (at least 4 y/o).

ABV: 40%

Michigan state minimum: $51

Appearance: Brownish copper with long, elegant legs.

Nose: Alcohol, felt, old oak, prune juice.

Palate: Full bodied. Juicy and a little chewy with a bold burn throughout.

Finish: Raisins, oak, heat. Long.

Parting words: Cognac d’Ussé is best known for being developed (endorsed?) by Jay-Z. Don’t confuse it with other celebrity spirits like Conjure Cognac or Ciroc vodka. Those are garbage, this is not. D’Usse is a product of Chateau de Cognac, appropriately located   in a castle in central Cognac. Baron Otard is Chateau de Cognac’s primary product line with all the usual suspects. Unlike those, D’Usse (this and the $200+ XO) is made by blending brandies from all over CdC’s estates. It was intended to rope in a young, hip audience. How young and/or hip I am is up for debate, but I have been roped in.

There are no flavors or aromas here that are too far outside the norm for Cognacs, but they’re all amped up while remaining balanced. As a newcomer to good Cognac, I really enjoyed it. The price is in the same ballpark as other VSOPs from Cognac houses of comparable size. Not that it matters but the bottle is really cool looking too. D’Usse VSOP is recommended.

 

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New and interesting on the Michigan State Liquor List: May 1, 2016

My home state of Michigan, like sixteen other states, is what is called a “control state”. This means that the state government is directly involved with the sale of liquor in some way. Many of those states operate state-owned liquor stores as a result. Others, like Michigan, merely act as the wholesaler for the state. As a wholesaler, the state of Michigan maintains a list of all the spirits available for purchase from itself. The price book is issued by the state a few times each year. Supplemental lists (now called new items lists) are issued periodically listing items to be added to or deleted from the price book. These lists contain a variety of information but the most important to consumers is the minimum price at which the spirit must be sold at retail.

This post is a look at the new items for May 1, 2016. The LARA website with links to lists in the recent past is here. Caps retained out of laziness but with full names given where the state has abbreviated them. Proof (Michigan lists everything in terms of US proof which= 2 x %ABV), bottle size in ml and retail price are given for each one. I have added notes at the end of each if I think it necessary. Some items are not actually new, but fell off the list for some reason and have been added back or are new bottle sizes for items already on the list. Sometimes an item will be added and removed at the same time. I think this is a way to make corrections, but it’s still puzzling. For the sake of brevity, I have excluded apparent corrections from this post. Some new items are also gift pack versions of existing items. These are always the same price as the bottle alone.

Apologies for the lateness of the post. My wife had a baby.

American Blended Whiskey

DAVENPORT’S AMERICAN BLENDED 80, 750, $18.99 Blended whiskey from Davenport, Iowa’s Artisan Grain Distillery. Unclear if this product is sourced or partially sourced.

Bourbon

Pingree_statue,_Grad_Circus_Park,_Detroit
Statue of Pingree in Grand Circus Park, Detroit

MAYOR PINGREE 90, 750, $89.99

MAYOR PINGREE-10 YR 110, 750, $89.99 New line of bourbon from Valentine in Ferndale, Michigan. It’s named for former Detroit mayor and Michigan governor Hazen Pingree (1840-1901), a progressive Republican who is widely considered to be one of Detroit’s greatest mayors.

When contacted on social media, Valentine’s Justin Aden wrote the following: “The two new listings are for two new age-stated straight bourbon sku’s we’ll be releasing this summer. One is for cask strength, [non chill-filtered] straight bourbon single barrels and the other is a limited edition age-stated ‘small-batch’ blend by yours truly.” When asked if the bourbon was sourced or their own distillate, Justin replied, “A bit of both, depending on the release. We’ve got several label variations of the Mayor Pingree line. We’ve been laying it down since 2007 but we also have some excellent sourced 10yr stock to share as well. We’ll keep you posted!”

WILD TURKEY 81 81, 200, $3.48 This is just about the maximum amount of WT 81 I would want to drink in the span of a lifetime.

RHETORIC-22 YR 90.4, 750, $99.99 How can we miss you if you won’t go away?

Rye Whiskey

YIPPEE KI YAY 92, 750, $64.99 Yippee ki yay, mother lovers, this new blend of straight rye whiskeys from High West was available just in time for mom’s special day. The proportions of the blend are kept secret (didn’t think this was allowed but whatever) but the two ryes in question are from MGPI of Lawrenceburg, Indiana and Barton-1792 of Bardstown, Kentucky.

Scotch

GLENMORANGIE ORIGINAL 86, 1750, $89.99 Newly available family size is great for VBS picnics.

Brandy

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC XO 80, 750, $169.98 The XO joins last month’s arrivals the VS and VSOP. It’s the oldest and by far the most expensive of the three.

Tequila

AZUNIA ANEJO 80.0 750 6 39.28 37.31 43.99

AZUNIA BLANCO 80.0 750 6 31.68 30.10 35.49

AZUNIA REPOSADO 80.0 750 6 35.70 33.92 39.99 Azunia Black was on this list last month.

azunia_billwalton_2sm
Walton relaxing after some Azunia.

The rest of the line arrives this month. As noted previously, the blanco and reposado are made from organically grown agave. Distilled at Agaveros Unidos de Amatitán, 50 miles or so northeast of Guadalajara. They are also partnering with basketball great Bill Walton for some reason.

 

UPDATES

I received a polite email a few days ago from Mychal Diaz of Southern Champion company, makers of Buzzballz premade cocktails, encouraging me to take a look at their new website and get some more accurate information into your hands, dear readers, regarding their products that were on the New Items list back in February.

Their company is a relatively new one, founded in 2010 by inventor Merrilee Kick of Carrolton, Texas. The company was founded around Kick’s concept for BuzzBallz was for an unbreakable, unspillable quality, full strength premade cocktail for camping, picnics, tailgating, etc. She invented the what the website claims is the first plastic beverage can for this purpose.

Andrew_Johns_Gin_Media_Deck-970x1024Recently they have expanded into spirits with XII Kings Vodka, Andrew Johns Gin (both domestically sourced, filtered, proprietarily processed then cut with Texas water), Pelican Bay Rums (a blend of rums from around the Caribbean) and Crooked Fox blended bourbon (sourced from Kentucky and Tennessee). They are NOT the same spirits used in BuzzBallz. There is also have a wine listed on the website, Closet Freak California Muscat. I asked about additives in their spirits as well but there was no response to that question. They will start rolling out nationwide this summer.

 

Image Credits

Pingree statue: I, Mikerussell [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Walton Photo: Press release here.

Andrew John’s Gin: Southern Champion spirits. Used by permission.

New and interesting on the Michigan State Liquor List: April 3, 2016

My home state of Michigan, like sixteen other states, is what is called a “control state”. This means that the state government is directly involved with the sale of liquor in some way. Many of those states operate state-owned liquor stores as a result. Others, like Michigan, merely act as the wholesaler for the state. As a wholesaler, the state of Michigan maintains a list of all the spirits available for purchase from itself. The price book is issued by the state a few times each year. Supplemental lists (now called new items lists) are issued periodically listing items to be added to or deleted from the price book. These lists contain a variety of information but the most important to consumers is the minimum price at which the spirit must be sold at retail.

This post is a look at the new items for April 3, 2016. The LARA website with links to lists in the recent past is here. Caps retained out of laziness but with full names given where the state has abbreviated them. Proof (Michigan lists everything in terms of US proof which= 2 x %ABV), bottle size in ml and retail price are given for each one. I have added notes at the end of each if I think it necessary. Some items are not actually new, but fell off the list for some reason and have been added back or are new bottle sizes for items already on the list. Sometimes an item will be added and removed at the same time. I think this is a way to make corrections, but it’s still puzzling. For the sake of brevity, I have excluded apparent corrections from this post. Some new items are also gift pack versions of existing items. These are always the same price as the bottle alone.

American Blended Whiskey

HENDERSON WHISKEY 80, 1750, $41.98

HENDERSON WHISKEY 80, 750, $23.99 American blend best known for its deceptive labeling practices. Nothing to do with Lincoln or Wesley Henderson of Angel’s Envy.

Bourbon

CLEVELAND UNDERGROUND APPLE (etc) 90, 750, $43.99 The new experimental line from the sadists at Cleveland Whiskey Co. includes this and black cherry, hickory and honey flavors. Hey it couldn’t get any worse, right?

LARCENY 92, 750, $28.96

2016-04-05-19.01.15.jpg.jpeg
Grand Larceny

LARCENY 92, 1000, $36.99

LARCENY 92, 1750, $54.99

LARCENY 92, 50, $1.99 Heaven Hill’s successful “small batch” extension to their Old Fitzgerald line of wheated bourbons finally arrives in Michigan and at a dollar less than Maker’s Mark! Great taste, great bottle design, great price. Nothing not to love.

TRAIL’S END BOURBON WHISKEY 90, 750, $44.97 Kentucky bourbon finished with Oregon oak staves. From Hood River Distillers (sic), the importers of Pendleton Canadian Whisky and distributors of McCarthy Single Malt.

VALENTINE SINGLE BARREL-7 YR 100, 750, $89.99 Ferndale Michigan’s Valentine microdistillery releases a fully aged, 100 proof straight bourbon. I tasted some barrel proof bourbon of theirs a few years ago and it was really good. Yes, the price is high, but I’m still excited about this.

WILD TURKEY MASTER KEEP DECADES 104, 750, $149.99 The second Master’s Keep in what is now a series, I guess. I whined to high heaven about the last one, but this one seems to be an improvement, at least as far as the proof goes. The decades refer to the fact that it’s 10 & 20 y/o bourbons mingled together. They may be in violation of federal law for not listing percentages, though.

COLONEL EH TAYLOR SEASONED WOOD 100, 750, $69.99 The latest in the CEHT specialty range, this one has been out for a while in other parts of the country and is already a hot item on the collector’s black market. From Buffalo Trace.

GENTRY CHARLESTON LOWLAND 90, 750, $44.99 The first bourbon made using Terressentia’s TerrePure process to be available in Michigan, it is named after a horse/hotel in Charleston, SC. TerrePure was invented by a man named Ty Tyler, best known for creating a coating for aluminum cans so that soft drinks wouldn’t pick up a metallic flavor. He claims that his process can create the flavors of a fully aged bourbon in a day or so. Many have gone down that road before. All have failed miserably.

MAKER’S MARK AMERICAN PHARAOH 90, 1000, $74.99 Maker’s Mark with a picture of a famous horse on the bottle.

Straight Rye

TEMPLETON RYE-6 YR 80, 750, $44.99 This appears to be a 6 y/o aged stated version of the infamous Templeton Rye. I don’t have any other information on it as of yet. Watch the Twitter feed for some as soon as I get it.

CANADIAN CLUB 100% RYE 80, 750, $19.99 CC’s Chairman’s Select is finally stateside! Woo! Canadian Club released this 100% rye whisky in 2014 to abundant praise. I’ve been planning a trip across the Detroit river to pick some up, but now it looks like all I’ll have to do is annoy some local liquor store owners. That’s much more fun than crossing the border. Canadian Club is owned by Beam Suntory and this product is made at Alberta Distillers in Calgary (the other CCs are made in Windsor, Ontario).

KNOB CREEK RYE 100, 1000, $44.99 One of my favorite Kentucky ryes is now available in liters.

Canadian

PENDLETON MIDNIGHT 90, 750, $32.95 Pendleton bottled at 90 proof and partially aged in American brandy barrels. Imported by Hood River Distillers and distilled by an undisclosed source (Alberta?).

Scotch

AUCHNAGIE 86, 750, $62.99

AUCHNAGIE VINTAGE 92, 750, $274.99

GERSTON 86, 750, $62.99

GERSTON VINTAGE 92, 750, $274.99

STRATHEDEN 86.0 750, $62.99

STRATHEDEN VINTAGE 92, 750, $274.99

LOSSIT 86, 750, $43.01

TOWIEMORE 86, 750, $43.01

Auchnagie, Gerston, Stratheden, Lossit and Towiemore are all releases from the Lost Distillery Company. LDC produces recreations of whiskies from long closed distilleries. They do this via historical research. There is no library of nineteenth century malt whisky samples in cabinet at Lost Distillery Co. HQ that is being consulted to make these, only period sources. Seems like an interesting project.

BENNACHIE 86, 750, $43.01 Bennachie is an old blended malt brand that is still obscure in the US. It’s Speyside-centric and generally well-regarded online from what I can tell. More blended malts on Michigan shelves is a good thing. This is probably the 10 y/o, but 17 and 21 y/o editions are also bottled.

JOHN BARR RESERVE 86, 1000, $29.99

JOHN BARR RESERVE 86, 750, $24.99 The world famous blended whisky in the squarish bottle with a red label and John in the name is now available in The Mitten. John Barr of course! From Whyte & McKay, makers of the Isle of Jura and Dalmore Single Malts.

ROCK OYSTER 93.6, 750, $59.95 Island-centric blended malt from Douglas Laing & Co., makers of Big Peat and other blended malts including Scallywag and Timorous Beastie below.

SCALLYWAG 92, 750, $69.99 Spey-centric blended malt from Laing.

TIMOROUS BEASTIE 93.6, 750, $59.95 Highland-centric blended malt from Laing.

ARDBEG DARK COVE SINGLE MALT 110, 750, $109.99 The “committee edition” of Dark Cove. NAS Ardbeg aged in bourbon and “dark” sherry casks. $110 but also 110 proof. I may actually try and buy this one.

JOHNNIE WALKER BLACK/GOLF DIVOT 80, 750, $39.99 Divot tools are the hot new item to pair with liquor, apparently. I never had any use for them. The PuttPutt people tend to frown on them anyway.

WOLFBURN SINGLE MALT 92, 750, $63.79 New (2013) Highland distillery with the name of an old one. Unless they’re sourcing from somewhere else for the time being, this is going to be a very young single malt.

Irish Whiskey

BLACK BUSH (IRISH) 80, 1750, $53.99

BLACK BUSH (IRISH) 80, 375, $19.99 Like Black Bush in the park? Have a large family that enjoys Black Bush? Bushmills has you covered with new 1.75 ltr and 375 ml sizes! Bushmills is owned by Jose Cuervo.

THE IRISHMAN-12 YR 86, 750, $73.92 12 y/o Irish Single Malt joins its younger sibling, Irishman Original Clan (soon to be rebranded as Founder’s Reserve). I hear good things about this one but I wish the proof was higher.

Other Whiskey

LOCAL CHOICE BLACK CHERRY 90, 750, $29.99 TerrePure flavored whiskey. See also THX gin & rum below.

MAMMOTH WHISKEY 80, 750, $44.00 5 y/o Kentucky-distilled whiskey finished in Michigan Merlot barrels from Bonobo winery on Old Mission Peninsula. Mammoth is located in Central Lake, Michigan. That’s east of Torch Lake, and north of Bellaire (home of Shorts Brewery) or between Petoskey and Traverse City if you prefer.

RED CEDAR CORN WHISKEY BARREL AGED 80, 750, $27.55 Aged corn whiskey from Red Cedar distillery in East Lansing, affiliated with the Michigan State University distilling program.

Gin

GREENHOUSE GIN 80, 750, $22.99 “Artisan” gin from Dynasty Spirits, best known for Nue Vodka and being involved in a convoluted fraud case last year. Acai and cucumber are used to flavor the spirit in addition to the usual aromatics.

WATER HILL GIN 90, 750, $34.19 From Ann Arbor Distilling in Ann Arbor, Michigan (what are the odds?). They also make a vodka, coffee liqueur and unaged rum (see below). Website: http://www.annarbordistilling.com/

THX GIN 92, 750, $19.99 TerrePure gin from Local Spirits. A THX rum is also produced. See below.

NEW HOLLAND BLUE HAVEN 80, 750, $29.99 Blueberry-infused gin from the makers of the excellent Knickerbocker Gin and Beer Barrel Bourbon. They brew beer too, of course.

Brandy, Foreign

BELA OSA 80, 750, $30.80 Serbian Slivovitz (Damson plum brandy). Name translates to “white wasp”. I know nothing else about this.

KRALJICA 84, 750, $30.80 Name translates to “queen”. This is a protected geographical name for Serbian Slivovitz. From the Zarić distillery in Kosjerić, Western Serbia.

NIRVANA 80, 750, $30.80 Pear brandy from Zarić.

RUBINOV VINJAK VS 80, 1000, $25.25 Grape brandy from the Rubin distillery in Kruševac, in central Serbia.

TROYANSKA SLIVOVITZ PLUM-4 YR 80, 750, $24.99

TROYANSKA SLIVOVITZ-7 YR 80, 750, $29.00 Two age stated Sliovitzes from the Troyan monastery (aka The Monastery of the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God) near Oreshak in central Bulgaria.

800px-Troyan-monastery-imagesfrombulgaria
The Troyan Monastery

Cognac

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC VS 80, 200, $9.99

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC VS 80, 375, $16.99

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC VS 80, 750, $36.99

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC VSOP 80, 200, $15.99

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC VSOP 80, 750, $49.96

CAMPAGNERE COGNAC VSOP 80, 375, $23.99 Campagnere is a Champagne Cognac produced by Tessendier & Fils in Cognac. What makes Campagnere different from other Champagne Cognac? you may ask. From the website: “From the great variety of eaux-de-vie produced, Jérôme and Lilian subtly blend with feelings and emotions, step by step, up to three hundred eaux-de-vie each year to create one outstanding Cognac, whose rarity is only exceeded by its distinctive originality.” Campagnere is the Cognac with feelings and emotions. Besides the VS & VSOP, they also produce Belle Epoque Single Cask, Prestige (for blending apparently) and an XO. None of those are available in Michigan yet.

Rum

SIX SAINTS 83.4, 750, $24.98 Rum from Grenada named for the six Catholic parishes on the island. The brand is owned by Craft Spirits, Ltd, based in Glasgow. I was unable to find any other information on the company.

SOUL PREMIUM CACHACA 80, 750, $25.99

SOUL PREMIUM CACHACA 80, 1000, $32.99 Cachaça is a Brazilian style of unaged rum. It’s gradually become more available in the US over the past few years. It’s unclear where in Brazil Soul Premium is distilled, but it is imported by Bibo International of Newport, Rhode Island.

WATER HILL RUM 89, 750, $37.57 An unaged Rum from Ann Arbor Distillery. See Water Hill Gin above.

THX RUM 80, 750, $19.99 TerrePure rum. See THX Gin and Gentry bourbon above.

Tequila

AZUNIA BLACK-2 YR 80, 750, $109.99 This is the first Azunia offering available in Michigan. Azunia black sits at the top of their range of traditional process tequilas. Each bottle is signed by master distiller Salvador Rivera Cardona. They also have the standard blanco, reposado and añejo expressions. The first two of those are made with organically grown agave. Hopefully we’ll see the other three expressions here soon.

CASAMIGOS ANEJO 80, 375, $28.96

CASAMIGOS REPOSADO 80, 375, $26.99 Casamigos añejo & reposado now come in half bottles to make them easier to take to a friend’s house.

TEQUILA CHAMUCOS BLANCO 80, 750, $44.98 See below. The blanco is distilled by
Feliciano Vivanco y Asociados, makers of ArteNom and Don Weber.

CHAMUCOS TEQUILA ANEJO 80, 750, $59.74 This gimmicky-looking tequila is a product of the Premium de Jalisco distillery, which also makes Trader Joe’s silver tequila. It was created by unnamed celebrities and places a lot of emphasis on the creativity of the label. How creative to put a picture of a devil on a tequila with the Spanish word for devil as its name!

LUNAZUL BLANCO W/DIVOT TOOL 80, 750, $17.98 Divot tools: Not just for Scotch anymore!

AVION SILVER 80, 1750, $89.99 As seen on the TV show Entourage, this product of
Productos Finos de Agave distillery (maker of Casamigos, amongst others), is now available in family size bottles.

OLMECA ALTOS PLATA 80, 1000, $26.99 Plata= silver. See below.

OLMECA ALTOS REPOSDAO 80, 1000, $26.99 These two Pernod-Ricard tequilas are made using tahona wheel-pressed agave juice are now available in liter sizes.

1800 MILENIO 80, 750, $225.00 A limited edition and downright ancient extra añejo from Cuervo. The first edition was released in 2000, then rereleased in 2014 but it’s now back with an even higher price than the last time. As before, it’s aged for five years in used bourbon barrels, then finished in former Cognac barrels. Reviews put previous editions firmly in the “beaver tequila” category.

Liqueurs

DI SARONNO W/JAR & SQUEEZER 56, 750, $26.99 Make your own fresh-squeezed amaretto sour. Lemons, sugar and egg whites not included.

BRAULIO AMARO ALPINO 42, 1000, 42.96 A minty Alpine Amaro made in Bormio, Lombardy, Italy, on the edge of Stelvio National Park near the Swiss border.

COMBIER PAMPLEMOUSSE ROSE 32, 750, $30.80 Grapefruit liqueur from French artisanal liqueur maker Combier, located in Saumur in the Loire valley.

MONTMORENCY CHERRY LIQUEUR 50, 750, $18.48 A Herzegovinian cherry liqueur. Manufactured by Nero in Mostar.

20160405_200235.jpg
Baiju, I think

JELINEK FERNET 76, 750, $22.00 The famous Moravian Amaro brand is now available for your sipping and mixing pleasure. Made in Luhačovice, Czech Republic, famous for its spa.

LONG ROAD AQUAVIT 90, 750, $34.99 Long Road distillery in Grand Rapids’s take on this caraway flavored spirit.

FEW ANGUISH & REGRET 80, 750, $29.28 As a tribute to their Chicago home base, Few made a Malort. The name says it all.

JIN LIU FU 104, 375, $16.69 I’m not sure what this is. Baiju maybe?

RED STAR ER GUO TOU JIU 112, 375, $8.87 Red Star is the best known brand of erguotou, a style of baiju. Baiju is a Chinese sorghum spirit.

Photo credits

  1. Me
  2. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Troyan-monastery-imagesfrombulgaria.JPG
  3. Me

Camus VS Elegance

Maker: Camus, Cognac, Charente, France2016-01-06-14.57.54.jpg.jpeg

Age category: VS (at least 2 y/o)

ABV: 40%

Price: $26 (The Party Source)

Appearance: Bright copper with thick, slow moving legs

Nose: Raisins, old oak, fig, alcohol.

Palate: Soft and mild. Oatmeal raisin cookies.

Finish: Dried fig, dates, alcohol, vanilla.

Parting words: The Camus Cognac house dates back to 1863. Unlike its much bigger competitors it is family and French owned, and always has been. The current president is Cyril Camus (b. 1971), a descendent of founder Jean-Baptiste Camus (b. 1835). They also share similar facial hair. Cyril created the Elegance line of entry level, age category cognacs, and the Borderies XO, made with grapes from the family vineyards in the Borderies sub-region of Cognac. He also began a line of cognacs made entirely with grapes from Île de Ré, a small island (33 square miles or so) off the coast of western France. Frankly, Camus produces a bewildering number of products for such a small company.

The Elegance line, as mentioned above, seems to be intended as an entry level product line. It also includes Elegance VSOP, XO and Extra (in ascending order of age). The VS is the least expensive but the VSOP is affordable as well. Unfortunately, the state of Michigan does not carry the VS, but the VSOP retails for $39, which is not bad in the grand scheme of things. Michigan also carries Elegance XO ($157), Borderies XO ($177), Extra Elegance ($500) and Cuvee 5.150 ($14,000).

I expected this brandy to be mixing quality at best. I was pleasantly shocked. The fruity quality of the distillate clearly takes the lead here, but it’s very good on its own and is balanced with enough cask character to keep it from tasting like an unaged eau de vie. I tasted from a 50 ml bottle so I didn’t quite have enough to try it mixed, but I can see the assertive fruit getting in the way of some mixers. Or maybe it wouldn’t. What I can say with certainty is that Camus Elegance VS is very good. Recommended.

Rémy Martin XO Excellence

Maker: Rémy Martin, Cognac, Charente, Poitou-Charentes, France (Remy Cointreau)wpid-2015-07-14-17.52.08.jpg.jpeg

Place of origin: Champagne, Cognac (not to be confused with the wine region of the same name)

Age category: XO (6 y/o or older)

ABV: 40%

Michigan State Minimum: $150

Apparently: Reddish orange.

Nose: Alcohol, rancio, orange peel, almond extract, cherry, vanilla.

Palate: Full mouthfeel. Semi-dry. Roasted almonds, Queen Anne Cherries, white mulberries, white wine grapes.

Finish: Golden raisins, old oak, leather. Lingers for a very long time.

Parting words: I’m not in the habit of buying $150 bottles of anything, let alone Cognac. Luckily I was able to find a 50 ml bottle of this. I had to share it with you, of course, dear readers.

My biggest question is always, is it worth the money? My Cognac experience is limited but this is by far the best one I’ve ever had. It’s complex and well integrated. Fruity but not sweet. For 40% ABV, it has a lot of power too. If I were tasting blind, I would never guess that it was that low. As a bourbon guy, I would still appreciate a bigger proof at this price, but cask strength Cognac isn’t really a thing so it would probably be unfair to criticize this on that basis.

As elegant as it gets, Rémy Martin XO Excellence is recommended.

Rémy Martin 1738

Maker: Rémy Martin, Cognac, France (Rémy Cointreau)Remy 1738

Place of origin: Champagne, Cognac, France. (Not to be confused with the winemaking region of the same name).

Age: NAS (minimum 2 y/o )

ABV: 40%

Michigan State Minimum: $50

Appearance: Auburn with thick legs and necklace.

Nose: Fruity. Fresh wine grapes, cardamom, dried blueberries, saffron, ginger.

On the palate: Medium bodied and sweet. Panettone with raisins.

Finish: Golden raisins, hint of oak and alcohol. Fades fairly quickly.

Parting words: I believe this is the first Cognac I have reviewed for the blog, although I did review an Armagnac back in 2012. I decided that I needed to review a Cognac when I recently purchased a bourbon finished in a Cognac barrel and I realized I couldn’t pick out any specific Cognac influenced aromas or tastes.

For those who may not be familiar with Cognac, it’s a French brandy made from white wine made from grapes grown in and around the city of Cognac in western France, north of Bordeaux. There are six subregions within the Cognac zone: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bon Bois and Bois Ordinaire. Rémy Martin 1738 is a Champagne Cognac, meaning it was made with a blend of grapes from both Grande and Petite Champagne. According to the Rémy Martin website, it is composed of 65% Grande and 35% Petite. Cognac is distilled in an old style of pot still called an alembic still and must be aged for a minimum of two years in French oak before being sold. The grapes used to produce the wine used to produce Cognac are typically wines that don’t drink very well. Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano) is one of the primary varietals used

1783 (named for the date of a royal warrant the company was granted) is positioned in the middle of the Rémy Martin range and as such I thought it represented a good place to jump in to the Cognac. I was not disappointed. It contains no age statement or age grade (V.O., V.S.O.P., etc), but strikes what seems to be a good balance between fruity youth and oaky maturity. It’s worth the price, but if you’re still not sure, it is availble in 375 and 200 ml bottles as well. Rémy Martin 1738 is recommended.