What COGNAC/ARMAGNAC Are You Drinking?

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Tran Bronstein
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#1 Post by Tran Bronstein » December 1st, 2013, 4:39 pm

Beserkers,

I'm with Alan Rath on this one. This board is called WINE in capitals Berserkers and we have a Rum thread, a Scotch Whisky thread and a Bourbon thread -- but no COGNAC and/or ARMAGNAC thread at all in the Beer and Spirits forums?!? Disgraceful! [soap.gif]

Cognac has a soft spot in my heart for being the first spirit that I ever tried and liked. I avoided spirits like the plague my entire life believing they were all like crappy grain and potato based vodka and meant entirely for alcoholics. Cognac is the spirit that changed all of that for me.

So much so that my first thought upon tasting Cognac -- and which now applies to all spirits for me -- was why would anyone deliberately dilute the tastes and aromas of this stuff in a cocktail? It's because of Cognac that I take all of my spirits neat with the ever so slightest of chills, the way they were meant to be appreciated as far as I am concerned.

Cognac proved to me that spirits do have a taste and aroma all their own to be savored and was the gateway into my appreciation of Scotch whisky, American bourbon, Spanish brandy, Canadian whisky, Italian grappa and French fruit eau-de-vie especially Calvados.

I like Armagnac too, by the way, as I find it a lot more fruit-forward in flavor than Cognac but I like the silky mouthfeel of a Cognac much better. As a result, I find myself tending towards more fruitier and floral Cognacs, especially those from independent houses.

In terms of regions, I tend to focus on Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Fine Champagne (a blend of the other two). I've only ever had one Borderies Cognac and there was enough of a difference to convince me to stick with the Champagne regions.

I also find myself acquiring only XO designated Cognacs, and avoid VSOP and VS designations like the plague. Aside from the fact that I think the quality difference is just vast (and VS I find especially substandard), the only advantage of lower designations is their price point and if you shop well for XO Cognacs then it becomes moot. Sure, you'll never pay less than $100 CDN for a bottle but the $40-50 difference from a quality VSOP makes it worth it for me. Also, I find the decanters for XO Cognacs way more beautiful in general.

The catch is that you have to do your research and beforehand and shop well. Although I love their Cognacs when I've sampled them, I avoid the big houses of Remy Martin, Courvoisier, Hennessey and Martell like the plague (with one exception mentioned below) simply because of QPR value. They charge two to three times what an equivalent quality independent producer does.

In my very brief time as a Cognac Berserker, I've found the following amazing Cognacs that I would highly recommend. I've listed the price I got them for in $CDN as well to prove the point of value versus the big houses above and prove you don't have to break the bank to be an XO Cognac lover. I'm sure our American compatriots can find these at much better prices:

* Chateau de Beaulon Folle Blanche 7 Ans ($56) -- An absolutely incredible QPR bargain of a Cognac
* Audry Vieille Reserve Fine Champagne ($129)
* Vallein Tercinier Vielle Reserve Fine Champagne ($130)
* Remy Martin Coeur du Cognac ($99) -- Much sweeter and fruit forward than you average Cognac and even some Armagnacs I've tried
* Gaston de Lagrange Grande Champagne ($99) -- Actually an Otard XO! For some bizarre reason, they market in Canada with a generic out of date brand name and have completely forgone the cooler sounding Otard name along with its beautiful teardrop shaped bottle. (Oddly, the VSOP Otard is available here in Canada making the decision even more perplexing.)
* Croizet XO Grande Champagne ($105)
* Bache-Gabrielsen XO Fine Champagne ($110)
* Hine Homage Grand Cru Fine Champagne ($145)
* De Luze XO Fine Champagne ($156)

I've finished off the first four Cognacs as well as used some to make my Marnier style liqueurs which I posted about in another thread. The others are all waiting to be opened and savored this holiday.

So feel free to add to this thread and keep it going. What's your favorite Cognac? What are you drinking right now? What are you acquiring this holiday season? Discuss. [cheers.gif]
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#2 Post by Justin Bonner » December 2nd, 2013, 5:50 pm

Thanks for starting a cognac thread. I partake every now and again. I'm sipping on a 1962 Laubade at the moment but I have an 1893 Francis Darroze that I've been waiting for the right moment to open.

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#3 Post by Jay Miller » December 3rd, 2013, 12:59 pm

I've been enjoying the 1979 Ravignan Armagnac for several years now.
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#4 Post by Howard Camhi » December 4th, 2013, 9:49 am

Justin Bonner wrote:Thanks for starting a cognac thread. I partake every now and again. I'm sipping on a 1962 Laubade at the moment but I have an 1893 Francis Darroze that I've been waiting for the right moment to open.
How is that Justin? I own it but haven't yet cracked it. . . sipping, on occasion, Laberdolive '62.

TIA

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#5 Post by David Henry » December 10th, 2013, 5:55 pm

My new favorite relatively affordable under $100 Cognac (ousting the Delamain Pale & Dry and the Lot 76 Tesseron): Jean Fillioux Tres Vieux Grande Champagne Cognac (25 year old).

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#6 Post by William Segui » December 10th, 2013, 7:02 pm

Martell XO Supreme -- it seemed to get some good reviews and I traded a bourbon I had no interest in for it. Slightly nutty, hint of sherry - pretty easy drinker. I think I made out on the trade.

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#7 Post by John Liotta » December 10th, 2013, 8:13 pm

Had some Hennessy Paradis last night. This is really excellent stuff. Especially nice to find it on a list at a hotel lounge.
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#8 Post by Russell Faulkner » December 11th, 2013, 12:52 am

I like the Paradis, they serve it on Emirates.

I have a Remy XO and a Martell Cordon Bleu open now.

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#9 Post by John Liotta » December 12th, 2013, 8:00 pm

Hine Triomphe last night. Also excellent- same lounge.
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#10 Post by William Segui » January 28th, 2014, 3:37 pm

Just picked up Ragnaud-Sabourin No. 20 (K&L pick) & Tesseron 90. The Tesseron came recommended on the high QPR and I would like to get a sense of house style before plunking down the cash for a 53.

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#11 Post by robert korenberg » January 28th, 2014, 8:25 pm

For years we have enjoyed Chateau de Pellehaut Reserve Tenareze Armagnac. It is now offered by K&L at an attractive qpr.

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#12 Post by NED VALOIS » January 28th, 2014, 8:55 pm

Just picked up a 1945 Sempe Armagnac , hoping to drink in 2015 .

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#13 Post by john stimson » April 2nd, 2014, 7:57 pm

This thread isn't nearly long enough. I love Cognac, but it's hard to find one that isn't caramelled and oaked to death. I know they exist but a bit hard to identify. Armagnac is easier. for long time it was hard to get one of worth in my home state of Washington but since the liquor law changes, it's easier although more expensive. Enjoying Pellehauts and Castaredes at the moment.

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#14 Post by PeterEJ » April 2nd, 2014, 10:43 pm

Just re-tasted the De Luze Extra. Mind blowing stuff and better than I remember. I also re-tasted Remy XO which I still can't stand for some reason
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#15 Post by Humberto Dorta » April 3rd, 2014, 7:59 am

Love Paradis, take baby sips of it here and there. This got me into cognac.
My (relative) QPR that I always have a bottle open of is Comandon XO. One of the best noses of anything I've ever encountered though the palate is not quite as good.
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#16 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 3rd, 2014, 8:04 am

I've been trying thr big house XOs recently (all that's available here), the one I keep going back to is Martell Cordon Bleu, especially after its been open a couple of weeks.

Though I do as much damage as possible to the Paradis they serve when flying Emirrates.

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#17 Post by Humberto Dorta » April 3rd, 2014, 8:17 am

Will...whats up with the 53? I like the 90 but the price tag on the 53 has given me pause. What do you know about it?
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#18 Post by Peter Petersen » April 3rd, 2014, 8:21 am

Has anyone tried what Nicolas Palazzi makes?

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#19 Post by Tran Bronstein » April 3rd, 2014, 6:49 pm

@William: The Tesseron has one of the richest most mouthcoating textures I have ever had in a Cognac. Almost like Grand Marnier in that respect. This said, while the 90 was OK I have found the 76 to be much better and just as richly textured. The 53 must be amazing but is out of my price range.
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#20 Post by William Segui » April 5th, 2014, 7:03 am

Humberto Dorta wrote:Will...whats up with the 53? I like the 90 but the price tag on the 53 has given me pause. What do you know about it?
I'll send you a sample!

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#21 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 5th, 2014, 7:47 am

Why is Cognac more expensive than scotch?

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#22 Post by Humberto Dorta » April 5th, 2014, 8:45 pm

I think two reasons are: the uber expensive ones are aged a lot longer on average where 50-70 years is not unheard of in the components and that it largely unheard of in scotch. Also scotch as a crazy luxury is a pretty recent phenomenon. Hell I bought Blackadder ladyburn 1973 for under two hundred bucks 5 years ago. (73 is my birth year) drank it for my 40th. Now...1200 everythere. 8 years ago I bought two bottles of bowmore 25 at total wine for 250 each. Now...500+. Cognac has been a super luxury forever. Im sure there are lots more reasons but those two jump out at me.
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#23 Post by Russell Faulkner » April 5th, 2014, 9:00 pm

I'm thinking at the XO level, which is where I play. Scotch is so much better value for the same $.

Unfortunately I don't like scotch... :)

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#24 Post by Humberto Dorta » April 5th, 2014, 9:29 pm

I love scotch and bourbon so shush about it being cheap before they realize ;) I guess scotch doesn't have the designations like xo and xtra which come with a built in excuse for prices. In the last two years cognac prices seem to have jumped a lot whereas the "basic" single malts have been pretty static. In fact laphroaig 10 has gone down in price for some reason. Paradis retail price went up about 150 bucks. I wish I knew why.
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#25 Post by William Segui » April 7th, 2014, 3:21 pm

Humberto Dorta wrote:I think two reasons are: the uber expensive ones are aged a lot longer on average where 50-70 years is not unheard of in the components and that it largely unheard of in scotch. Also scotch as a crazy luxury is a pretty recent phenomenon. Hell I bought Blackadder ladyburn 1973 for under two hundred bucks 5 years ago. (73 is my birth year) drank it for my 40th. Now...1200 everythere. 8 years ago I bought two bottles of bowmore 25 at total wine for 250 each. Now...500+. Cognac has been a super luxury forever. Im sure there are lots more reasons but those two jump out at me.
I'd also venture that Cognac is from fruit (grapes) -- therefore you are dependent upon Mother Nature and can only make what you can grow v. buying corn/grain/rye/etc and distilling year round.

Cognac is very expensive -- but there are deals to be had at the XO level relative to the like quality of bourbon/scotch. Bourbon has gotten ridiculous, I'm hoping that my current bourbon holdings will be enough to ride out the current bubble and I already look forward to the glut soon to come (soon = 7-10 years)

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#26 Post by William Segui » April 13th, 2014, 9:23 pm

Click to see spoiler:
Humberto Dorta wrote:Will...whats up with the 53? I like the 90 but the price tag on the 53 has given me pause. What do you know about it?
What did you think?? :)

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#27 Post by Humberto Dorta » April 14th, 2014, 9:38 am

William Segui wrote:
Click to see spoiler:
Humberto Dorta wrote:Will...whats up with the 53? I like the 90 but the price tag on the 53 has given me pause. What do you know about it?
What did you think?? :)
Hmm well, I will write and actual note with the remaiing of the sample when I get home but from memory it is voluptuous. Intense in every way with smokyness, caramel and I recall some very interesting fruit notes. More details later.
I bought a bottle within five minutes of trying it.
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#28 Post by Mark Henderson » May 2nd, 2014, 2:45 am

The Delamain 'Pale & Dry' XO Grande Champagne Cognac is far and away my favourite. It is not a big, powerful style, but has marvellous complexity and depth of flavour; really fine and elegant on the finish. I have never tried Hine but am eager to do so this year and may be able to pick up a bottle while travelling.

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#29 Post by Alan Rath » May 13th, 2014, 10:25 am

I can't remember ever saying anything about Cognac, but thanks to Tran for starting this thread! I'll add Paul Giraud as the producer I buy most. When I traveled more, I would buy Hennessy XO in Heathrow duty free, sometimes as low as $60. Those days are long gone :(
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#30 Post by Chris Geurkink » May 13th, 2014, 10:34 am

I have a question on how long is a bottle of cognac good after it's been open? A year or two or ten?

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#31 Post by john stimson » May 15th, 2014, 7:49 pm

I wouldn't come close to having any personal experience with this to report.

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#32 Post by Brent C l a y t o n » May 16th, 2014, 12:09 am

I've been off the brandy lately. But I've got a bottle of Tesseron lot 90 and a Puysegur 1985 Armagnac kicking around in case of emergency.
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#33 Post by Alan Rath » May 20th, 2014, 10:55 am

Chris Geurkink wrote:I have a question on how long is a bottle of cognac good after it's been open? A year or two or ten?
If sealed well, I think it can go quite a while. Remember, it's already been distilled (i.e., exposed to plenty of heat) so you're not worried about heat damage. I've found bottles that had been open for at least 5 years, and they were fine. Note that the typical small "stoppers" most Cognac comes with aren't great seals for long term storage, so you may want to find a better cork to use if you're going to save for a while. The one thing I noticed in the bottles that were opened a long time is that there seemed to be a little less alcohol, which makes sense - it's the most volatile compound in there.
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#34 Post by Jack Johnson » July 4th, 2014, 11:53 am

1948 Hine, Private Reserve Grand Champagne Cognac, bottled 1985 for Taylor and Lake, London.
Delicious spirit. 40%.
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#35 Post by Russell Faulkner » July 5th, 2014, 9:49 am

I'm in the region (we spend part of summer here and have for a decade) it's rather depressing to see the local supermarket devoting three times as much shelf space to Scotch as Cognac.

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#36 Post by John Liotta » August 3rd, 2014, 8:38 am

Hennessy Paradis Imperial- very delicious.
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#37 Post by Barry L i p t o n » August 3rd, 2014, 10:40 am

Mark Henderson wrote:The Delamain 'Pale & Dry' XO Grande Champagne Cognac is far and away my favourite. It is not a big, powerful style, but has marvellous complexity and depth of flavour; really fine and elegant on the finish. I have never tried Hine but am eager to do so this year and may be able to pick up a bottle while travelling.
Delamain Vespers is my favorite

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#38 Post by John Liotta » January 3rd, 2015, 6:02 am

Camus Extra last night- surprised I haven't had this before. Very nice.
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#39 Post by Russell Faulkner » January 3rd, 2015, 6:06 am

Enjoyed a bottle of Delamain Vesper over Christmas.

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#40 Post by Mont Stern » January 3rd, 2015, 6:21 pm

Kelt Petra is my favorite. I focus on hors d'age Cognac and buy a bottle every year. I started with a bottle of Hennessy Paradis in 1987 and haven't looked back.

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#41 Post by William Segui » January 7th, 2015, 9:18 pm

Tesseron 53. Huge change of pace from the barrel proof bourbons I've been drinking of late. Hard to switch gears, but the nuance & subtlety is fantastic

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#42 Post by Yannick Treffot » January 8th, 2015, 3:58 pm

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#43 Post by Jack Johnson » January 8th, 2015, 7:57 pm

Cognac - Hine 1948 - London bottled - wonderful.
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#44 Post by Alan Rath » January 10th, 2015, 10:07 pm

Not Cognac, but I'm drinking a California brandy: Germain-Robin XO, which is a pretty good rendition.
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#45 Post by Alan Rath » January 10th, 2015, 10:08 pm

William Segui wrote:Tesseron 53. Huge change of pace from the barrel proof bourbons I've been drinking of late. Hard to switch gears, but the nuance & subtlety is fantastic
Be careful, once you start drinking Cognac (and that 53 is pretty good), you won't be able to go back to Bourbon or whiskey. Just too much smoke and wood.
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#46 Post by D@v1dZ » January 27th, 2015, 2:03 pm

Navarre Cognac - oh my god. Best $200 you'll ever spend.

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#47 Post by Michae1 P0wers » January 30th, 2015, 9:18 am

Alan Rath wrote:Not Cognac, but I'm drinking a California brandy: Germain-Robin XO, which is a pretty good rendition.
I've liked this in the past, while also finding tremendous variation. Both the regular iteration and two reserves (Shareholders and Coast Road, which is the new name for the Shareholders I believe) are available locally at attractive prices. I worry that I've been spoiled by nice armagnacs and cognacs and won't appreciate the G-R but will probably pull the trigger soon to see.

As for brandy ruining a taste in bourbon let's not be ridiculous. Maybe it does help one refine their taste in bourbons though.

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#48 Post by Michael Bowden » February 23rd, 2015, 9:15 pm

1947 Laubade (bottled in 2/2007).

Delicious.
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What COGNAC/ARMAGNAC Are You Drinking?

#49 Post by P. Willenberg » February 25th, 2015, 1:34 pm

the Baraillon Armagnac available at K&L is stellar. I like the 95 and 98.
Paul (@pwillen1 on CT, Twitter, Instagram)
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WSET Level 3 in Sake

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Peter Petersen
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What COGNAC/ARMAGNAC Are You Drinking?

#50 Post by Peter Petersen » February 25th, 2015, 6:05 pm

I've found G-R hit or mis. Some versions are simply too oaky, esp the barrel selections for K&L.
Currently my fav drink is Armagnac from Tariquet. They have 6 different ones and they are great and very reasonably priced.

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