The latest Cognac from Ferrand (“Pierre” has officially been dropped from the brand’s name) is a “legacy of 10 generations,” even though it comes across with an age profile of significantly fewer generations. Maybe half a generation? Anyway…
What’s new here in this Grande Champagne Cognac is that it is aged in French oak casks, 20 percent of which are Sauternes barrels. Cognac by law must be aged in French oak — new or used — but the use of Sauternes casks is something rarely heard of. Equally unusual: The brandy is bottled at a higher proof than usual, 46% abv.
Let’s give it a spin.
The nose is classic Cognac, redolent with golden raisins and some brown sugar, gingerbread and some red apple notes. The Sauternes influence isn’t immediately obvious, though a floral note is evident. The palate is engaging, though there’s a gritty, brambly element here that belies considerable youth in the blend. It’s unfortunate, because otherwise the Cognac is quite lively and rounded, with notes of apples and pears, nutmeg, and a layered, honey-like finish that is probably the clearest evidence of the Sauternes cask. The underbrush-and-oak character is never far from sight, however, and it leaves the finish a bit more muddied than it should be. For 60 bucks, though, it’ll do.