I obviously have no experience with Cognac outside of a few SMWS and Cadenhead’s releases but my friend Shai got me into this Delamain gear and the Cognac show last Friday has very much focussed my attention onto the stuff.
Thanks so much Shai for sorting me out with samples, except my bottle of Pale and Dry which has taken a serious beating since opening it (and he made me buy that anyway). I am a convert.
Body - Tart tatin, peppery and a weird kind of wooded that I'm not used to at all, it's not the bludgeoning of fresh bourbon cask but it isn't mellow like a Scotch… but it does have some of the wax and orchard fruit. A kind of tobacco character, some wood glue. There's another gentle, green fruit in here, like an unripe pear or apple sauce - lurking, beguiling sweetness, whistle pops behind it.
Finish - Long and salty with perfect balance, it's a very long fade out with that bright wood, black pepper taking over very slowly.
Unbelievable balance, bags of fruit and elegant wood on the nose, and toe curlingly delicious to drink.
Nose - Bright, polished wood, quite estery (spirit based varnishes) and then a deep fug of wax and fruit - dried raspberries, crayons, fizzers, baked apples again with hot sauna wood and caramel. Toffee apples. This is deep and fruity compared to the P&D's salty completeness.
Body - Incredible poise - there's a light liquorice in front of cigarette tobacco, orange flesh and pips, hiding toffeed tannins that desiccate your palate and demand another sip. There's a more luxurious depth and sugar in the delivery here and a more insistent caramel burnish.
Finish - Not quite as long as the P&D, but just as perfectly balanced, with green apple skin and crushed boiled sweets. A really insistent sweetness at the end.
This is a more luxurious drink, just as balanced but deeper and perhaps a little more obvious than the P&D.
Body - Soft but bright fruits (baked apples, spiced orange slices) that sits on top of floor wax, vanilla and pepper.
Finish - Very long and rich, double cream on jelly. Nougat with nuts and rice paper. Cigar tobacco at the end, ripe green apples.
I am trying to compare very delicate, quite similar drinks that are becoming softer, fruitier and more elegant as I move up the range, and as a whisky drinker I am struggling with the vocabulary for it. I know this is delicious but does Cognac bear this kind of dissection? I know I like this more than the Vesper when I taste it without writing notes, but right now it seems too gentle and I prefer the Vesper, then the P&D even more. I dunno. I did tend to prefer the young ones, then the very old ones at the Cognac show.
These are all absolutely delicious though.
Nose - Flashes of mineral, hard liquorice, tropical cask. There's that musky, almost fetid note in here again (oh.. this is rancio), behind that intense fruitiness (picked rose petals on mango slices), and an ancient wood.
Body - Dusty and dirty, an enormous amount of soft fruit and toffee, vanilla and pepper.
Finish - Medium to short but rich, peppery and not overdone on the wood, given the age (although they don't sit them in active casks the whole time, right?).
Intense, ancient and delicate - for such an extreme experience it is of course, balanced, elegant and carefully delivered.
So anyway… I went to the Cognac show without guile, just for Friday night which wasn’t nearly long enough. I tasted loads of stuff, and took photos of some of the Cognacs I liked. Here they are (more for my benefit than anything else). I didn’t go to Delamain at the show because I had all the above as samples. The small or independent stuff was so amazing. Ed’s gear, the Famille Esteve stuff, was superb, as was all the VT.