Flavored cognac is not exactly a big market, but let’s run with it (particularly since a reader requested coverage of this very spirit): A. Hardy blends authentic, French, 8-year old Hardy VSOP Cognac with natural vanilla (plus caramel color) to come up with, well, a vanilla-flavored Cognac. Bottled at 80 proof, if nothing else it sure does look enticing in its frosted glass.
Initially mild, as the cognac character is at the forefront of the spirit. But give it just a couple of minutes and, wham, the vanilla takes hold. It’s hugely sweet and dessert-like, almost like a big vanilla milkshake. While reasonably authentic in flavor, it’s ultimately just too much. As any baker knows, a little vanilla goes a very long way in a dish, especially in liquid form. Here it completely overpowers the cognac character, especially on the finish, where the vanilla becomes cloying and uninviting. One is not encouraged to take sip after sip but rather to switch to a straight, unflavored brandy in short order. Likely better as a mixer or, come to think of it, as a substitute for vanilla in your favorite baking recipes.
C+ / $22 / ahardyusa.com