The Sazerac Company — best known as the parent of Buffalo Trace — has immense spirits holdings globally. Among them is a namesake Cognac, Sazerac de Forge. This is a relaunch of an old brand, and there’s some history to wade through, should you be so inclined. So here goes:
Previously available exclusively at Sazerac House in New Orleans, Sazerac reintroduces this cognac steeped in history, which gave its name to the official cocktail of New Orleans, and ultimately the Sazerac Company itself. The Sazerac Company, with roots in New Orleans dating back to the 1800s, has worked with a number of archivists to thoroughly research its connection to France and the Sazerac family, which dates back to the 1630s. Almost 400 years ago, the Sazerac family had established vineyards and a distillery in the Cognac region. In 1782, Bernard Sazerac de Forge then founded the Cognac House that bears his name, bringing together under a single commercial banner his family’s long-standing but disparate vineyard holdings and distilleries. After relaunching Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac exclusively at the Sazerac House in New Orleans in October 2019, the Sazerac Company is thrilled to announce that this historical creation is now available in new markets including New York, California and Illinois. It will continue its expansion to additional markets throughout 2022.
The Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac blend includes cognacs made from a number of old and rare native grape varieties, providing the unique opportunity to enjoy cognac as it was 150 years ago, prior to the Phylloxera epidemic that forever changed the cognac making process. Befitting its 19th century character and blend of grapes, it stands apart from most of today’s cognac offerings. Rich and floral, it is distinctly creamy in texture, showing hints of exotic spice on the palate, with a long, soft finish and a hint of natural sweetness. Non chill-filtered to preserve the mouth-feel and full depth of flavor, Finest Original is presented at 94 proof to reveal its aromatic characteristics at its best.
Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac was created through a collaboration of Sazerac’s best blenders and distillers including Clive Carpenter, an industry veteran who spent his entire career working with cognac; Sazerac Master Blender Drew Mayville, who was the last master blender under the Seagram dynasty; and A.S. Bowman Master Distiller Brian Prewitt, who brings his years of experience working with brandy in California before coming to Sazerac.
“Throughout the process of blending the new Sazerac de Forge & Fils ‘Finest Original’ Cognac, we looked to the original Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac for inspiration. The original cognacs were mostly blended using native grape varieties, including Folle Blanche and Colombard. But afterwards, and still to this day, the vast majority of cognacs are made from a single grape variety – Ugni Blanc – the grape that recovered from the late-1800s Phylloxera epidemic most readily,” said Clive Carpenter, general manager of Domaine Sazerac de Segonzac. “Our blend returns as closely as possible to the original methods of making cognac and contains cognacs from as young as seven years old, bringing freshness and delicacy, to some which date from the 1960s, adding their powerful, rich aromas. It possesses a character and complexity that is almost impossible to achieve using a single variety of grape.”
Curiously this Cognac bears no age designation, though if the youngest eaux de vie are 7 years old, it would currently qualify for VSOP categorization. Let’s give it a whirl.
To start with, the nose is light-handed and refreshing, clearly a younger spirit that evokes classic Cognac aromas of incense, baking spice, and lavender-dusted linen. There’s a modest sweetness, as expected, on the palate, with gentle notes of golden raisins providing a quick lift before — hmmmm — some awfully tough, youthful notes come back into focus. Camphor and laundry detergent notes soon mar the delicacy that the nose evokes, the palate shifting from a brisk floral note into something sharp and astringent. The finish is off completely: hard-nosed, with bone-dry florals and none of the sweeter elements telegraphed by the nose. Bummer.
There’s a lot of promise here, but it feels squandered by the time the finish rolls around. $130 is crazy for this.