Cognac Park isn’t a household name in the U.S., but its Carte Blanche release makes a strong case that maybe it should be. While it’s just a VS release, composed of 50% Fins bois and 50% Petite Champagne eaux de vie, it drinks a lot like a more refined, rounded Cognac — at least a VSOP, in my opinion.
It’s a sweeter style of brandy that forgoes some of the more traditional floral notes for fresher, fruitier overtones. While some jasmine green tea notes inform the nose at first whiff, the aroma feels quite fresh and inviting, stronger apple notes paired with mild hints of strawberry. The palate is both bright and a bit creamy, countering any overt sweetness with its exuberant, fresh fruit, almost tropical at times. A thick ribbon of caramel runs through the experience, but it keeps the sugar in check, while the slightly sharper finish evokes classic, clean linen notes, some apricot, and a nice slug of vanilla. I get milk chocolate lingering well into the conclusion.
Carte Blanche isn’t particularly complex, but it’s so incredibly and approachably drinkable that it’s impossible not to keep gravitating to it for continued enjoyment. Whether you’re drinking it neat or enjoying it in a Sidecar, the brandy works well. I don’t think I’ve had a better VS expression — and now I’m intensely curious to try some of Park’s older brandies to see where things go from here.