When in France: Martell

pecho mamaWhilst on a petite tour of Caen with Pecho Mama, I found time to focus on some French spirits. Second up is cognac from Martell.

Traditionally, two types of wood are used for storing and ageing cognac. Limousin oak comes from a natural forest that produces wide grain pedunculate oak. Martell like Courvoisier use Troncais oak from a managed timber forest producing fine grain sessile oak.

Some historical titbits

Martell gate.jpg

  • 1715 Jean Martell [originally from Jersey], establishes a trading business in Cognac on the banks of the Charente like Courvoisier.
  • 1753 Jean dies leaving his two sons Jean & Frederic to continue his legacy.
  • 1814 Export business successes see Martell becoming the UK’s number one Cognac [at the time], exporting around 200,000 litres by the mid 1800’s.
  • 1831 First VSOP ‘Very Superior Old Pale’ is released, eau de vie aged for at least four years – a blend made from grapes from different regions, including Grande Champagne and Borderies.
  • 1912 ‘The worlds most loved Cognac’, Cordon Bleu is created.
  • 1936 Martell is served aboard the Queen Mary,…
  • 1977 … and then on Concorde.
  • 1987 Martell is taken over by Seagrams for $1.2 billion.
  • 2001 Seagrams is bought by Pernod Ricard in a joint venture with Diageo for $8.15 million – the assets of which are then split between the two rival companies.

For more information about Martell, read an in-depth article here: CE


I brought to Caen a young 3 star [VS] Martell cognac from the 1950’s to try after the Courvoisier [LINK]Martell and courvoisier.jpg

Martell 3 star ‘Very Old Pale’ [1950’s] 70 proof

The label states ‘Contents are guaranteed pure grape brandy distilled in pot stills [cognac-expert].

  • N: Smells very pongy, but not in any good ways. Lets hope it sorts itself out with time. Unfortunately stagnant pond water remains, drats. But wait, the water is funny here in Caen or at least in our maisonette, so I sterilise the glasses and begin again. It’s still somewhat pongy but now more pungent & funky than ghastly. The sugars at last speak louder than the murkiness before the emergence of notes of dried limes & lemons, orange oil and leather satchels. Things improve no-end after the glass is sterile.Martell.jpg
  • T: This is more medicinal<sweet than the Courvoisier yet with sherried fruit [Christmas] cake at its heart and a rather nice soft chew. A little water an you’ve a pillow-soft runny honey-oily mouthful. Rather well constructed.
  • F: A medicinal-sweet dry-bitter note accompanies the grape>oak tannin complex all the way home. Aniseed fresh wood spice & dried confectionary fruit notes emerge from a super-soft, vanilla malty-woody surge.
  • C: Note to self: pay more attention to glass cleanliness, as this went from a train-wreck to a very decent old Cognac after decent sterilisation. The same goes for the pipette water, make it spring.

Scores 84 points


Next up, Cointreau













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