The four Cognacs reviewed below represent $1,150 worth of booze (in 750ml bottle formats)… and compared to the latest entry in Delamain’s collection, that’s pretty much nothing.
Delamain’s latest — Le Voyage — costs $7,000 a bottle, which includes a Baccarat decanter and leather “traveling box.” I haven’t tried Le Voyage (that’s on tap, I’m promised, in September, when Delamain brings a bottle to town in that leather box), but the company was kind enough to send minis of its four most widely available spirits (all are 80 proof) in advance of the grand arrival. Here are some thoughts.
Delamain “Pale & Dry” XO – It’s rare that a brandy maker’s cheapest bottling is an XO, which is the top grade of brandy for most mainstream manufacturers. (“Extra Old” typically entails a minimum of 6 1/2 years in cask and often climbs well into the double digits.) Delamain doesn’t indicate a cask time for its XO, and it’s the lightest in color of the four tasted here. Vanilla is strong in this one, with a lot of alcoholic heat. The floral notes present are overpowered by the vanilla, ultimately, leaving you with an intriguing spirit that is reminiscent of good bourbon. Very good. B+ / $149
Delamain Vesper – No relation to the Vesper cocktail, Vesper is older than the XO and different in style. Vanilla is still strong here, but the spirit is heavier, with a caramel apple character that’s really enticing. Oaky and hefty in the mouth, this is a very smooth brandy that goes down so easily it’s silly. A- / $199
Delamain Tres Venerable Cognac de Grande Champagne – How venerable? Tres venerable. This “extremely old” Cognac tastes, quite frankly, too old, picking up perhaps a charcoal-like character from all that time in the cask. Very woody and a tad bitter, it’s not my favorite of the line. B / $399
Delamain Extra de Grande Champagne – Woody, but with a curious secondary set of characters of apples, butter… maybe mushrooms and escargot. Call me crazy. Great blending job on this… the perfumy notes stays with you for minutes… you can smell hints of the Extra long after you swallow your last drop. Really impressive. Comes in a fancy, squat decanter. A / $399
Here’s what the minis look like… though you won’t see them available for sale, sadly.