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The French Spirits Forum- Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados

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WhiskeyBlender
On 2/7/2019 at 3:05 PM, KyleCBreese said:

@WhiskeyBlender I finally went out and grabbed the Old Havana and the first impressions are Wow! Rich and creamy to start, almost reminds me of an Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. But the finish is full of tropical fruit, almost like a dried fruit trail mix with mango and banana chips. Too bad the store only had one bottle. 

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Hey Fellas, so I haven't been on the forum much lately. I just can't seem to get over this flu-bug thing that's down in my bronchial tubes. Just when I start to feel better, it knocks me down again. 

 

At any rate, @KyleCBreese, I'm glad you like the Old Havana! Yes, it is very rich and creamy, with lots of tropical fruit. It usually has a little brown baking spice in it, too, but I don't know if your particular bottling has those notes. 

 

@kevinbrink, I'm absolutely thrilled to hear that you procured that bottle "For the Lover of Fine Cigars"! I don't know how long it was sitting on that shelf, but by the looks of it, it was definitely a long time. Hopefully there won't be any UV deterioration/oxidation issues, but let's assume the best. Please let me know when you crack into that bottle. I can't wait to hear what you think of it. 

 

I see that there is also a bottle of G-R Shareholders Reserve. Although it is certainly well-made of course, for whatever reason, I personally never liked what I tasted of that blend. It certainly isn't bad- not in the least- but it just never seemed that interesting to my palate. If you buy it, let me know, as I'd like to get your thoughts on it. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

 

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kevinbrink

Get well @WhiskeyBlender and thanks as always for the further insight, once that bottle is open you will be the first to know.

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smokinjoe

Sorry to hesr Nancy that you are battling that bug.  I hope you get to feeling better soon!  

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kevinbrink

FYI French spirits are on sale today at Astor

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Marekv8

This seems French in a "French Fries" or "French Toast" sorta way. I put it up against a Rémy Martin 1738 bottled in ~2002 and it came in a distant second.

 

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kevinbrink

y4mEo_bOm0_HiVKPO0fbhFKYKbl54sIMdwd7tTd_

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kevinbrink

@WhiskeyBlender So I found two more bottles of the G-R for For the Lover of Fine Cigars, on sight alone they look to be a different batch than the other, the liquid itself is darker (darker as well than the open Old Havana I have) and the bottle itself has different markings located on the side of the bottom of the bottle rather than the underside. Also there is considerably more sediment on the bottom of the bottle so it looks like there wasn't as much filtration going on so maybe that is part of the color difference. 

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HoustonNit
[mention=12388]WhiskeyBlender[/mention] So I found two more bottles of the G-R for For the Lover of Fine Cigars, on sight alone they look to be a different batch than the other, the liquid itself is darker (darker as well than the open Old Havana I have) and the bottle itself has different markings located on the side of the bottom of the bottle rather than the underside. Also there is considerably more sediment on the bottom of the bottle so it looks like there wasn't as much filtration going on so maybe that is part of the color difference. 
y4mmd1rOwe7Q0EyrGNDXEXmjVyyhPxXj0eplr0-rubNoHdt0AW9RMqle8-qWbzHXL5QIXJdn9ADVacnjC-cIYIYkbfQbP3obgVff7D-2FPS16Z5h2ChTfbM2OoBU1AhT3Lk4jLp6PmAiZ464Zq_P5y4Tm_FlP5W1i5O_6vibtLL-Y5hpoGdMlGs8zzL4nMrcHgI?width=1024&height=768&cropmode=none


Wow these look really interesting. I know you mentioned pricing before but what are these going for in the NY area? I’ve seen some of these, maybe not the cigar blends or Havana here in Houston.

Thanks

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kevinbrink
2 minutes ago, HoustonNit said:

 


Wow these look really interesting. I know you mentioned pricing before but what are these going for in the NY area? I’ve seen some of these, maybe not the cigar blends or Havana here in Houston.

Thanks

 

Left to Right I paid $89.99, 100.99, 89.99 and the last one is the same as #2. The same store I grabbed the most recent ones from had a 1993 Domaine Boigneres I almost sprung for as well, it was bottled in 2004 though and $120 seemed steep for an 11 year old, seems at some point this place was moving some brandy though.

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HoustonNit
Left to Right I paid $89.99, 100.99, 89.99 and the last one is the same as #2. The same store I grabbed the most recent ones from had a 1993 Domaine Boigneres I almost sprung for as well, it was bottled in 2004 though and $120 seemed steep for an 11 year old, seems at some point this place was moving some brandy though.


Thanks, pricing seems reasonable for what’s in the bottle.

How would you compare to Cognacs and Armagnac. My experience is somewhat limited. I seem to have had more luck with Armagnac, maybe more complex vs. cognac and certainly more interesting and a couple that are out of this world.
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kevinbrink
9 hours ago, HoustonNit said:

 


Thanks, pricing seems reasonable for what’s in the bottle.

How would you compare to Cognacs and Armagnac. My experience is somewhat limited. I seem to have had more luck with Armagnac, maybe more complex vs. cognac and certainly more interesting and a couple that are out of this world.

 

To my tastes Old Havana leans a little more towards Armagnac though it is also definitely it's own thing, I would say (and my notes are based on only a few pours 4ish months ago) it's a little more delicate than most of the Armagnac I've had though I don't necessarily think of that as a negative if that makes sense. At some point I plan on circling back and grabbing a bottle of the Christmas blend I stumbled upon a few pages back. Since none of these are particularly easy to come by around here I've been grabbing what I see particularly the really dusty stuff.

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WhiskeyBlender

@kevinbrink, very well done on your G-R finds! Those prices seem great. I know that at one time at least, there were brandies in the Old Havana blend that were about 25 years old, so really that's a steal. 

 

@HoustonNit, since I used to work at Germain-Robin, I can tell you that it will be somewhat different in that it will be a lot more fruit forward than what you usually find in French brandies, either Cognac or Armagnac. This is because in California, it is warmer here, and so the brix level will also be a little higher than what you would find in France, where there will be more acidity to the grapes. You'll find this more fruit forward style in other Alambic Brandies too, such as the much esteemed Osocalis alambic brandy. 

 

Another big difference is that here in the States, we have no restrictions on the grape varietals used in brandy production, whereas there are very strict rules about which ones can be used for Cognac and Armagnac production in France. Thus, in CA at least, some of the very best varietals to use are varietals such as Pinot Noir, Viognier, Valdiguie (in CA it is known as Napa Gamay), Sauvignon Blanc, and French Colombard. With the red grape varietals, a technique called "Blanc de Noirs," or "white from black," is used so that the fresh juice is taken off the red grape skins in order to not have the heavy tannins that red grapes impart. Also, being able to use red grape varietals can offer more fruitiness and body into the brandy. 

 

Otherwise, the production techniques used for New World alambic brandies such Osocalis and Germain-Robin come from the very traditional, artisanal Cognac world (NOT what the big producers such as Remy Martin do, and it shouldn't be confused with that). For example, my mentor, Hubert Germain-Robin's family had been distilling Cognac since 1782. Dan Farber of Osocalis studied with Hubert too, and he's augmented his production studies in France over the past 3 decades as well.  

 

At any rate, I think you'll find that there is much in common between the Old World brandies and the New World alambic-style brandies, although the New World alambic-style is more fruit forward, whereas the Old World style has a little more minerality and acidity. The Germain-Robin Old Havana is definitely more Armagnac-like, and I think @kevinbrink does a great job at describing this in his post above. 

 

I hope this helps. It is a lot of fun to compare styles. I personally love them all, and enjoy all of their unique characteristics. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

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HoustonNit

@WhiskeyBlender Wow once again your knowledge and “inside knowledge” is so informative. Reading your posts are probably some of my favorite on this site. These are hard to find but there’s a couple of stores that have some in Houston and will look into them a bit next time I’m in that part of town.

On a slightly different note I’ll be in France this summer and will try to make a day trip to check out some Calvados producers a couple hours drive from where I’ll be staying. I’ll ask for recs as I get closer.

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WhiskeyBlender
1 minute ago, HoustonNit said:

@WhiskeyBlender Wow once again your knowledge and “inside knowledge” is so informative. Reading your posts are probably some of my favorite on this site. These are hard to find but there’s a couple of stores that have some in Houston and will look into them a bit next time I’m in that part of town.

On a slightly different note I’ll be in France this summer and will try to make a day trip to check out some Calvados producers a couple hours drive from where I’ll be staying. I’ll ask for recs as I get closer.

Wow, I'd be very happy to give you some recommendations for Calvados producers to visit. I'm "chartreuse" with envy that you'll be in France in the summer too! I love it there in the summer, since I usually visit around November at the beginning of distillation season. If you're going to be in Normandy, that's a very good time to go. Otherwise, it is pretty cold and dreary, although incredibly beautiful. 

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HoustonNit
Wow, I'd be very happy to give you some recommendations for Calvados producers to visit. I'm "chartreuse" with envy that you'll be in France in the summer too! I love it there in the summer, since I usually visit around November at the beginning of distillation season. If you're going to be in Normandy, that's a very good time to go. Otherwise, it is pretty cold and dreary, although incredibly beautiful. 


Ha I use to go there in fall and Winter usually, until I had a kid. Will be in Normandy/Picardie and agree summer is the best time but I have a weird affinity for cold and dreary coming from Buffalo, NY but residing in Houston.
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WhiskeyBlender
1 hour ago, HoustonNit said:

 


Ha I use to go there in fall and Winter usually, until I had a kid. Will be in Normandy/Picardie and agree summer is the best time but I have a weird affinity for cold and dreary coming from Buffalo, NY but residing in Houston.

 

You're from Buffalo, NY? Wow, I didn't realize that! I have a very distinct memory of visiting Buffalo back in Sept. of 1983. At any rate, please let me know when you're headed to the Normandy region and I'll be happy to give you some pointers of what Calvados distilleries to visit. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

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Marekv8

One of my favorite Lincoln Road Package PS offerings. Was a gamble as I had to pre-pay for it five months in advance, but well worth the wait.

 

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