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  1. #1
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Hennessey Paradis

    This is a top-classed cognac. I tasted it at an LCBO tasting counter for a few dollars a "shot" (maybe 1/2 an ounce). This retails here at almost $500 per bottle.

    It was, needless to say, extremely good. The flavors were so well-knitted one could hardly make out any elements but the overall effect was of ethereal very fine spirit. Oddly, it reminded me of some very good aged single malts I've had, that may be the effect in both of predominant oak. The mouth feel was very soft with the traditional cognac grapiness well-buried and something new emerging in the whole.

    But having tried my hand at straight whiskey blending (and all cognacs are complex blends, or almost all) I am convinced a straight whiskey blend could be fashioned which is as good.

    In France they have hundreds if not more cognacs to age and blend - here we have far less straight whiskeys since there are so few extant producers and none that are (really) artisanal. Still, even with the 9 or 10 we have, they produce enough variety that a luxury blend of straight whiskeys could be done, and it would be as good as Paradis.

    Who will be the first to do it? Ideal for one of the whiskey merchants to consider..

    Gary

  2. #2
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    Wow this is an exciting thought. I wonder if they would publish the recipe? Maybe we could get Rachel Ray to do a "blending in only 30 minutes" TV program.

    bj

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    I don't know the name Rachel Ray, who is she?

    Gary

  4. #4
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    Unable to afford a bottle of Paradis, I was lucky enough to have a "few" pours of this at last year's Philadelphia Whiskey Fest. I agree that it is very fine cognac.
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    It was good but straight whiskey can be as good.

    Gary

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    There are many examples of drinks that, in my opinion, are as good as Paradis in the sense that they are blended very well and have a soft mouthfeel with complex, pleasing flavors. In this class I include Gosling's Gold, Havana Club Anejo Rum, and St-Remy XO French Brandy (not Remy Martin but the French brandy of somewhat similar name).

    Each of these costs about 5% of what Paradis costs.

    I feel I can blend spirits that come close to what Paradis achieves but make no mistake, the French experts in Cognac know exactly what they are doing. They set the highest standard in the world for quality spirits. They have been at it for a long, long time, and it shows. But they have no monopoly (on the concept of blending) and they can be equaled.

    If you took, say, the Van Blankle type of bourbon and added 20-40 more bourbons and some straight ryes in the right proportion, I think you could come up with something as good as Paradis and it would taste like whiskey not Cognac. At the top end of age, we could use some of the Vintage series of KBF or some of the fine HH well-aged products. For the middle, bourbons like ETL, Booker's, Russell's Reserve, and then maybe go back for some Louisville Old Charter, some NDOT, some Benchmark from the 70's, and so on. It can be done. Then too you don't need to create a Paradis-level drink, even a blend of straight bourbons of between 6-15 years old could be extremely good. You wouldn't want the Paradis price point anyway (too rarified), go with something almost as good and charge say $50 for it.

    I haven't mentioned scotch whisky but, at a different price point, there are some very good scotch blends out there and in fact the blending of scotch, like the mingling, batching and (I propose) blending of bourbons and ryes made by different companies, arguably is in its infancy. The French, that is, have some 200 years more experience than the British and Americans at creating complex blends of great character and subtlety...


    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-29-2006 at 07:26.

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    This idea has a lot of merit. It is a way to produce a genuine and genuinely unique American whiskey product without the trouble of distilling and aging the whiskey yourself. The start up would be expensive, in that you would need some number of barrels to actually get started, but you would be talking about a cost in the hundreds-of-thousands of dollars rather than millions.

    Blending is the essence of cognac-making and there the art has reached its pinnacle. There are a lot of fine blended whiskeys, though none made in the USA, but the cognacs, I think, are more sophisticated. Someone last night told me that, in Cognac, they don't really understand why singles (in Scotland) and straights (in the USA) are so popular, since they have no interest in "straight" cognac. I'm not even sure there is such a thing.

    It also might be interesting to create a new business on line and in plain sight (going off line when necessary).
    Last edited by cowdery; 09-28-2006 at 20:01.

  8. #8
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    $500?

    Damn, I saw it for $190 at the Duty Free in San Juan a month ago!
    Maybe I should have grabbed one!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery
    Someone last night told me that, in Cognac, they don't really understand why singles (in Scotland) and straights (in the USA) are so popular, since they have no interest in "straight" cognac. I'm not even sure there is such a thing.
    Go a little further south in France, and you'll find vintage-dated Armagnacs from single vineyards. I doubt there are any single-barrel bottlings, though it might happen.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    There are some vintage-dated cognacs and armagnacs but not that many, the traditional model of these drinks is to be highly blended.

    "Van Blankle" (which of course is single barrel Old Rip Van Winkle 12 year old bourbon, from S-W) strikes me as a good base from which to start but many other bases could be envisioned. The Elmer T. Lee type of whiskey is another. Possibly ORVW 12 year old whiskey from Bernheim would be suitable. You need a whiskey with a good single character, one that is well-flavoured but would take in other flavours as a seasoning. This is how I would do it, but maybe it would make sense to combine equal amounts of many straight whiskeys.

    Gary

 

 

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