Grand Brulot is not your everyday coffee liqueur — far from it. In fact, it’s only 49% coffee liqueur. Crafted from 51% VSOP Cognac and 49% liqueur de cafe, this blend from the Tardy Cognac house is really a coffee-flavored brandy, not the other way around. The spirit, as the name suggests, is a tribute to (and rendition of) the famed Cafe Brulot, invented at New Orleans’ Antoine’s in the 1880s.
Crafted by the Tardy Cognac Family, Grand Brulot is comprised of the finest ‘eaux de vie’ from a blend of Ugni Blanc & Colombard grapes from its single-estate which is then crafted into an elegant 80 proof VSOP Cognac that sits to age for 4-5 years. Then, 100% Robusta Ecuadorian coffee bean essence is extracted and blended with brandy to meld for a couple of months before it is blended with the VSOP Cognac. The final product, with its equivalent of one shot of espresso per serving, is superlative; a real crowd-pleaser that works beautifully in all sort of drinks for a variety of occasions —from apperitfs, to dinner pairings and digestif cocktail options— the choices are endless.
A new take on an 18th century French tradition and a tribute to an infamous New Orleans cocktail, Grand Brulot VSOP Cognac Café is the exquisite result of Cognac, coffee and lore seamlessly blended together. Centuries ago, the French introduced the concept of spiking their coffee with brandy to create a digestif, and in 2018, Grand Brulot revived that custom with a new recipe, uniting VSOP Cognac with it’s choice of the rich Robusta Coffee from Ecuador. Grand Brulot also pays tribute to a New Orleans specialty of the same name which still serves up it’s beautiful blue hot flame around town.
The flavor is unlike other coffee liqueurs, so those curious about it should really pay close attention and sample the spirit if possible before committing. Unlike Kahlua or any of the other craft coffee liqueurs, Grand Brulot is quite dry, and it’s punchy at a full 40% abv.
The nose is quite nutty and lightly woody, but the pungency of young brandy comes through. The coffee is actually quite understated here, its nuttiness more present than any chocolaty mocha notes. The palate focuses quite heavily on the brandy. Clearly winey, it shows off some raisin and prune notes, along with a note of cloves. Here, more of a burnt coffee note comes through, leading to a finish that is heavily toasted, nutty, and earthy all at once. A hint of black fruit is a surprise on the conclusion.
This is an interesting spirit but it’s definitely one that stands on its own, serving not as a replacement for Kahlua and the like but rather occupying a new category altogether. That said, I would like to have seen a stronger coffee influence here. In Grand Brulot, the coffee comes across more as a distinctly secondary element (and one which feels a bit overcooked).