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Thread: Cognac

  1. #11
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    Boston, Ma
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    Re: Cognac

    For me, Cognac has always been proof that blended spirits can be really good. (Making cognac is a true art form.)

    However, I never really got into them due to what I perceive as a lack of distinctiveness -- probably unjust. Put three really good cognac/brandies in front of me, and I like them, but they just don't seem to taste much different from eachother.

    I'm staying away from French stuff these days anyway, but have tried a few Spanish and Armenian brandies that give the french a good run for their money.

    Try any Spanish Solara Gran Reserva Brandy de Jerez, and I think you might like it....

    -AJ

  2. #12
    Apprentice
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    Jul 2004
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    Joliet, IL
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    Re: Cognac

    Bumping this. Anyone have beginner's recommendations for brandy. Is there such a thing as good brandy on a budget?

  3. #13
    Enthusiast
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    May 2004
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    Sherburne County, Minnesota
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    Re: Cognac

    E&J VSOP Superior Reserve seems to be fairly good, and reasonably priced. I don't buy it that often, but need to keep the shelf stocked for the mother-in-law. Of course, she keeps gravitating toward my Courvoisier (but at least when she drinks that, its straight and in a brancy snifter).

  4. #14
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    Re: Cognac

    Thanks, musher. I'd rather not blow the cash on Remy Martin VSOP right off the bat.

  5. #15
    Connoisseur
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    Nov 2003
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    Birmingham, AL
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    540

    Re: Cognac

    I think Imoya VSOP is a decent brandy from South Africa. Imoya means "spirit of Africa" and is a blend of 20, 10, 8 and 5 year old brandies made in copper pot stills then aged in small French oak barrels. The Master Distiller is a young guy named Elroy Goliah who's only in his 20's. It has a nice toasted nuttiness with dried fruit flavors.

    I also highly recommend Lautrec or Gabriel & Andreu's single estate bottle featuring the Fin Bois region. These are both in the low 20's for a fifth.

  6. #16
    Enthusiast
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    May 2004
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    Bristol UK.
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    Re: Cognac

    Bumping this. Anyone have beginner's recommendations for brandy. Is there such a thing as good brandy on a budget?
    There are some great Armagnacs around, which are cheaper and many would say better that the more popular Cognac (the US is especially keen on Cognac it would seem).

    Furthermore personally I think the more challenging / complex flavour makes it more appealing to whisky drinkers.

    With Armangac older is definitely better but I've had some pretty good 10YO's for around 15 in the UK.

    Thing is - it aint whisky

    Cheers,

    B.

  7. #17
    Guru
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    May 2003
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    Moscow Mills, MO
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    2,507

    Re: Cognac

    If you find yourself in the St Louis area, I have a couple of bottles of cognac that I 'inherited' that I would be more than happy to allow you to taste. One is Courvoisier VS and the other is Hennessey VS. I haven't developed a taste for cognac so I can't vouch for either as being good or bad. Binny's site prices them at 19.95 and 26.95 respectively so I wouldn't think they were too high up on the ladder. But then again, if you're in the neighborhood, I have many fine bourbons to wash them down with....

  8. #18
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Cognac

    I agree that Armangac is often a good alternative to cognac or other brandies. Cognac has always been popular in the U.S. but the fashion started (outside France, that is) in Britain. Brandy and water, brandy and soda, brandy and ginger were staples of the U.K. drink scene until their slow decline later in the 20th century. Whisky finally took over (and then gin, vodka) but Cognac, and associated drinks such as Armangac, retain (I think) a certain affection in the U.K., particularly in the English imagination.

    Armangac is single-distilled using the continuous method. The single distillation allows a lot of flavor to come through. While it is a grape brandy, the robust character of Armangac reminds me of certain feisty bourbons and ryes -what they have in common is a certain congeneric character, what the whisky writer Michael Jackson would call a "distillery character".

    Gary

  9. #19
    Connoisseur
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    Re: Cognac

    Armangac is single-distilled using the continuous method.
    Armagnac is traditionally made in this manner, but it doesn't have to be. For example, Janneau has been double distilling in a pot still since 1972.

  10. #20
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Re: Cognac

    Yes, some Armangac, in a return to what likely was the original practice, has in recent years been pot-distilled. I was referring to the main tradition since the early 1800's. Originally all brandy in France was distilled in pots and surely twice, as in Scotland, to make the drink palatable (otherwise probably it was sweetened and flavoured with herbs to disguise the feints). At some point early in the 1800's, the then-new continuous still was adopted in Armangac. And a single run was deemed enough which is interesting because this is not done today even for bourbon, a traditional drink by any standard. These stills were small, I have seen photos of little three-section columns erected on wagons that were trundled from farm to farm to distill the excess wine of the holders into brandy. So even though the stills were steam operated they were fairly primitive. No doubt a single distillation was -and is today even with improved equipment - a characterful drink. Probably, the early continuous stills produced the same abv spirit as a two-distillation batch process (I would estimate, 60% or so). Clearly the "system of continuity" (elegant expression used by Byrn in the 1870's) proved advantageous in time and cost of energy and therefore was adopted by the Armangac producers from the early 1800's. Ironically, the drink may have been more feisty than a double distilled pot still product due to going through only once. All this to say, you are right to point out some producers have gone back to the original method.

    Gary

 

 

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