This rather ominous looking liqueur launched last year in the United States. In addition to its arresting, black glass bottle, Villon also has quite the backstory. It is distilled, blended, and bottled in southwestern France and is named for the well-known 15th century French poet, Francois Villon, who notoriously vanished after killing a “wicked” priest. As for what’s actually in this liqueur, the recipe is a closely guarded family secret, but it relies on a base of VSOP Cognac and spirits distilled from French wheat (presumably grain neutral). Let’s check it out.
The aroma is punchy with alcohol and intensely sweet, like walking through the front door of a fudge shop. Big notes of vanilla extract, marshmallow fluff, and buttercream frosting almost smother the delicate baking spice and exotic sandalwood notes underneath. Air is very much a friend to this one, and after considerable time in the glass, I started to discover a better, if still quite saccharine, balance. The palate is syrupy sweet with more sticky vanilla bean, nutmeg, and gingerbread notes that turn increasingly exotic across the palate, turning to chai spice and strong black tea. A touch of lemony citrus and sugar cookie linger on the finish.
As with most liqueurs, I’m not sure how much of this I could sip neat. The website suggests it as a base for some classic bourbon and Cognac cocktails, but I’d recommend instead dialing it back as a modifier in lieu of the sugar in your recipe.