From time to time we like to experiment with different spirits on Malt, and today is one of those days. Instead of whisky, we’re going to look at Cognac – and a very interesting exclusive from The Whisky Exchange.
Cognac is not something you see all that often in the UK. I mean, only in specialist retailers do they tend to sell a decent range of the stuff, even brandy, and supermarkets rarely have much selection. What we do get, it’s fair to say, is very limited compared to the exponential range of whiskies and gins one tends to see. And actually, this was a sample sent to me from The Whisky Exchange – although it was quite a while ago, and I’m rubbish at getting around to these things.
Cognac, brandy, an aged double-distilled spirit, then, which should appeal to whisky drinkers. Indeed, an eau du vie – whisky could be considered an eau du vie of barley – it’s made from distilling wine that’s generally considered… well, better off being distilled. And Cognac comes from the town (and surrounding region) of Cognac, which is on the western coast of France. A good couple of hundred producers create the stuff, which makes the lack of representation on UK shelves even more curious.
So yes, lots for a whisky lover to admire – one of the other key differences being that Cognac uses the alembic still, something you’d find in an alchemist’s chamber. Interestingly whisky distilleries can use the alembic still – Dartmoor Distillery uses one, for instance – but it’s not at all that common.
Today’s specimen is from Frapin, a very old family Cognac producer located in the Grande Champagne region. The Frapin 1993 – Single Vintage Cognac is bottled at 43.2% ABV and will set you back a cool £140.
Frapin 1993 – Single Vintage Cognac – Review
On the nose: fennel and cherries, with heavy amounts of dried fruits: sultanas, raisins. Orange marmalade, with raspberries, cranberries and sage leaves. Nutmeg. Fry’s Turkish Delight. (Whisky fans: there’s much in here that bourbon drinkers would enjoy.)
In the mouth: lovely and silky quality, although it’s not overly viscous. A lovely sweetness and herbal balance. Orchard fruits, sultanas, slightly spicy with cloves, a gentle woodiness right at the end. Touches of port wine and marzipan, with ground almonds – and praline chocolates. Soured cherries. A hint of cola. I simply can’t stress just how silky it is though!
A very classy drink. A little too silky and polished for my liking, but if you’re interested in the shiny end of The Dalmore and The Macallan then you’ll find much to enjoy in this Cognac. And if you like those whiskies, then you can probably easily afford this single vintage from Frapin.