Whilst on a petite tour of Caen with Pecho Mama, I found time to focus on some French spirits. First up is cognac from Courvoisier (French pronunciation: [kuʁvwazje]) – glad that’s clear.
Some historical titbits
- 1809 Emmanuel Courvoisier & Louis Galloiss [the then mayor of Bercy], start a wine & spirit company in Bercy, Paris – essentially as traders for the finest Cognac’s.
- 1811 Two years later, Napoleon visits Bercy and the cellars of Emmanuel & Louis. According to [company] folklore, Napoleon liked Cognac so much he took some with him when exiled to St Helena after his defeat at Waterloo.
- 1828 After nearly 20 years of trading in Paris, Emmanuel & Louis’s sons Felix Courvoisier & Jules Gallois relocate to Jarnac to become Cognac producers themselves. Business was good enough to afford the build of a grand chateau on the banks of the Charente, a house which still remains the companies HQ.
- 1869 Napoleon III requests Courvoisier personally. He subsequently gives Courvoisier the title of ‘Official supplier to the Imperial Court’ – the only cognac house to be awarded this prestigious title.
- 1889 [One of] the drinks profiled at the Grand Opening of the Eiffel Tower.
- 1909 The company is bought by the Anglo-French Simon family.
Courvoisier is currently owned by Beam-Suntory which is ultimately a subsidiary of Suntory Holdings. Maxxium’s role as i understand it is as a marketer & distributer for numerous Beam-Suntory spirits worldwide including Courvoisier – currently the UK’s No 1 selling cognac.
In 2013, global sales reach 1.28 million cases (IWSR) – that’s over 15 million bottles, equivalent to around 29 bottles sold every minute. (Fyi, Johnnie Walker sold 450 bottles a minute in 2015].
Serge says of Courvoisier’s VSOP in review 151113: ‘One of the Johnnie Walkers of cognac. Say Black Label. And one of the rappers’ favourites, it seems’.
I brought to Caen a younger 3 star [VS] Courvoisier from the 1970’s to try.
Usefully the cap pointed to which direction the cap should be unscrewed.
Courvoisier 3 star Luxe [1970’s] 70 proof
It says on the label ’By appointment by the late King George VI’, who died in 1952. This is a 3 star cognac now known as VS (very special), that designates a blended brandy spirit which has been casked for a minimum of two years.
- N: There’s an easy mix of aged fruits with a perceived maltiness coming from an association with soft/aged sherried malts and/or blends. I get notes of berry-flavoured bubblegum on a sherried sponge base, a little-dry dessert wine and aromatic dry spices.
- T: It’s sweet>dry, then becoming a tad more savoury=medicinal. Form wise there’s a nice yet short curvature. After a time there are addition bitter notes nearer the arrival. Frustratingly the body isn’t quite there.
- F: Becoming more grapey with soft, sweet, dry & fruity medicinal notes to the last. Redcurrant cough sweets on the finish becoming a tad fresh. Much longer finish than expected.
- C: The seal was perfectly intact but that doesn’t mean this bottle was kept in the most ideal conditions during many decades in storage. Saying that, this is well constructed cognac with the finish coming in strongest.
Scores 77 points
Next up, Martell