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whiskeyme
04-22-2008, 09:14
My Dad and Brother like Cognac. I've never really been into it. I'm interested in trying some. What would be a good intro to it? Thanks.

Megawatt
04-22-2008, 09:46
Depends what you're willing to spend. I'm not sure what is available in your area, but I started with some cheap Dorlan VS just to get a feel for it. Then I decided to splurge on a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP. Around here, the big names like Remy, Hennesey and Courvoisier are pretty pricey. Try to find a more moderately-priced VSOP like Meukow, Camus or Gaston de Lagrange. A big-name VS might not be bad either.

CorvallisCracker
04-22-2008, 10:18
My Dad and Brother like Cognac. I've never really been into it. I'm interested in trying some. What would be a good intro to it? Thanks.

Some questions come to mind.

Do your dad and brother have any recommendations?

Do you live close enough to either to sample what they have?

How much are you willing to spend?

This is not a good time to be getting interested in cognac, what with the falling dollar. Prices are rising fast.

There isn't much under $40 or so that I personally can recommend. I note that Paul Pacult recently gave a good review to Jacques Cardin VSOP (about $18) but I haven't tried that myself (be advised that there is also a Jacques Cardin brandy for about $10 - make sure you're buying the cognac).

If you're willing to spend $40-50 so, I'd recommend the VSOP from Courvoisier and Remy Martin.

However, for that price I myself would be buying Germain-Robin, a California brandy.


Going up to the next tier, the XO from Delamain is pretty good, and may still be under $100. The XOs from both Martell and Remy Martin are also good. A few weeks ago these were going for $130-140; now it's closer to $170. The Germain-Robin "Shareholder's Reserve" is as good as these and costs $66.

wintermute
04-22-2008, 14:09
To save some money, try Asbach-Uralt - it's a German brandy that's every bit as good as most VSOPs for $35 or less.

boss302
04-22-2008, 23:23
However, for that price I myself would be buying Germain-Robin, a California brandy.


My hotel managed to get two bottles of Germain-Robin XO. Distilled exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes, it is a real delight!


Anyway, on to Cognac.

Overall, my opinion of cognac brandy pretty much falls in line with my opinion of virtually ALL French wines and spirits-- a little over-rated, and a LOT over-priced.

But, if you would like to get into cognac, it is perhaps best to buy a VS version of the bigger names, if for no other reason than to familiarize yourself with the "house style." Hennesy seems to be the fullest and fruitiest, while Remy Martin seems a little lighter, and Courvoisier displaying a little more oak. My personal favorite is Martell, which has a distinctive plum note, though it is worth noting that House Martell does use a portion of brandies distilled outside the region of Cognac.

Aside from that, there are, of course, lesser-known houses that produce very fine spirits for a much smaller pricetag, as other forumites have already mentioned, but you probably won't have much luck finding them at the local bar. And, I'll say it again, some of the brandies from South Africa and California really are getting quite good...

mgilbertva
04-23-2008, 07:49
To save some money, try Asbach-Uralt - it's a German brandy that's every bit as good as most VSOPs for $35 or less.

Asbach is pleasant, although I find it lacks complexity. What surprised me was how much it reminded me of a light-bodied bourbon.

Normally I don't care for VS ("Very Special"), or even many VSOPs ("Very Special Old Pale"). Something like Cordon Bleu is the cheapest cognac that will tempt me away from bourbon on occasion. Now, an XO ("eXtra Old") is something I would be happy to drink nearly any time. Here's some very quick impressions:

Courvoisier: caramel, rich
Hennessey: too sweet
Martel: too thin
Remy Martin: sharp, fruit (reminded me of a good Rye)
My favorites were the Courvoisier and the Remy.

boss302
04-23-2008, 09:30
Normally I don't care for VS ("Very Special"), or even many VSOPs ("Very Special Old Pale"). Something like Cordon Bleu is the cheapest cognac that will tempt me away from bourbon on occasion. Now, an XO ("eXtra Old") is something I would be happy to drink nearly any time.

I tend to go for the "Napolean" cognacs, myself, as they are nearly as mature as the XO's, without the fancy decanter-style bottles (not to mention the price tag that comes with them). Martell Cordon Bleu is probably my favorite, though Courvoisier Napolean is also quite excellent.

One XO that I really like, but is rather difficult to find, is Gautier XO "Blue and Gold."

I agree with you on your assessment of Hennessy- your assessment of Martell I will agree with, if you are referring only to the VS.

CorvallisCracker
04-23-2008, 09:50
Asbach is pleasant, although I find it lacks complexity. What surprised me was how much it reminded me of a light-bodied bourbon.

Exactly. I think of Asbach-Uralt as the Maker's Mark of brandy. Competently made, very reliable, but not terribly interesting.

mgilbertva
04-23-2008, 18:33
Courvoisier Napolean is also quite excellent.

I've never had it - I'll keep an eye open for some.


I agree with you on your assessment of Hennessy- your assessment of Martell I will agree with, if you are referring only to the VS.

I was actually talking about the XO: relative to other XOs, Martell is too watered-down tasting to me.

Louis XIII, on the other hand, is outstanding. But is it worth that crazy price? Probably not.

mier
04-24-2008, 03:09
Why not looking for miniatures?Most off the regular available cognacs have at least one of their brands as a miniature also.It is cheaper and you get to know your favorite cognac for the fraction of the price.Also you`re not wasting a lot of money if you don`t like the particulair bottle.On the net there are a lot of miniatures for sale.
Eric.

swampguy
04-24-2008, 07:13
Try some Spanish brandies. They are excellent and cheaper than the French for a quality drink. That is all I drink now and have had the so called great brandies when I was in liqour distribution biz.

BkBlue
04-24-2008, 08:16
I've only begun drinking cognac and armagnac within the last year. I'm moving very slowly and cautiously but it's been fun.

I would agree with a few others that Martell is my favorite of the big houses.

Martell uses primarily grapes from the Borderies terroir (region), which is notably different from most others that source from Chamapgne. If I stumble across a Borderies cognac from a small house, I will typically pick it up. Haven't been disappointed yet.

Another new favorite of mine is Cognac Tesseron Lot 90 XO. It's pretty widely available here in NYC and very reasonable priced (around $50). I'm not sure about availability elsewhere.

Vange
04-24-2008, 12:05
Another new favorite of mine is Cognac Tesseron Lot 90 XO. It's pretty widely available here in NYC and very reasonable priced (around $50). I'm not sure about availability elsewhere.

Tesseron cognacs are some of my favs. The Lot 90 is amazing for the price and I think way better than many at the 45-50 price point. After sampling the Lot 29 I had to go out and get one. It was a truly sublime brandy. Set me back 200-250 though!

Luna56
04-28-2008, 22:00
Remy VSOP is where I'd start. Mini's are easy to come by.
Make sure you have a "proper" glass, it really is essential to the experience of cognac. I like to let it warm in my hand for a good five to ten minutes before I start to drink (swirling and sniffing helps pass the time!). As the cognac warms and the alcohol evaporates a little, the flavor intensifies and I think the mouthfeel increases a bit. Don't dilute it with water or ice.

Like bourbon, generally, a few dollars more spent can yield major benefits. There's a sweet spot; spend too little and it's swill. Thirty to forty bucks is not a lot to spend for cognac (it can get crazy expensive) and is about where you'd want to start in my opinion.

I really like the Remy VSOP, Frapin, Delamain and Hennessey for starters (the Remy is my favorite of these, though Frapin is mighty fine).

Good luck, hope you'll report back with your experiences.

Cheers!