Cognac Ferrand launched its Renegade Barrel collection — in which its brandies were finished in various types of different casks — back in 2018. This edition, #3, is our first encounter with the line. It begins with vintage 2011 Ferrand Premier Cru Cognac and finishes the brandy in Plantation 1996 Jamaica HJC rum casks (which is convenient, as the two distilleries share ownership). The finishing violates the AOC’s strict naming conventions, so this is technically no longer Cognac. Formally, Ferrand refers to it as an Eau-de-Vie de Vin.
The brandy is definitely an odd combination of the two spirits. The nose has a distinct rum funk character, notes of petrol and hogo quickly dominating. There’s sweetness underneath, but its source is indistinct. Rum or brandy isn’t readily placeable, though a note of raisin is evident with time in glass. As it develops, the brandy takes on a more austere Turkish rug shop character.
On the palate, the experience remains both a powerhouse and a surprise. Again the spirit hews much more closely to rum than Cognac, offering notes of heavily charred wood, dark chocolate, dark roast coffee beans, and black pepper. The astute reader will associate none of that with brandy of any kind, of course, and Renegade No. 3 never really strays far from that profile. Sure, some hints at turbinado sugar and an almost prune-level raisin character give the finish some much-needed sweetness, but it’s a long time coming, and never wholly able to balance out the more oppressive, funky rum notes in the mix. It’s certainly interesting, but never overtly enjoyable the way good brandy always is. Wet asphalt is the flavor that clings to the tongue the longest.
The feds don’t let Ferrand call this Cognac, and frankly I wouldn’t call it Cognac, either.
B- / $90 / maisonferrand.com