It seems like my past few brandy reviews have had a certain theme of “I finally get to try this.”

Like Tesseron, Guillion-Painturaud is a family-owned Cognac house from Grand Champagne and a brand I’ve known of ever since my early days of exploring spirits seriously. I first heard of it through one of K&L Spirit Journal’s episodes when it was still a podcast close to a decade ago. Because there weren’t – and still aren’t – any small French brandy brands locally available, until recently, I’ve only been able to acquire less popular yet high quality brandy brands such as Adrien Camut Calvados and L’Encantada Armagnac from K&L Wines.

I know there are other sites to order from, but most of my US-based relatives are based in California. So, it’s been convenient for me to order from K&L, who has shops in different cities across California and have my bottles shipped within the state. There’s also that mentality of since they were probably one of the first wine and spirits stores to take a chance on promoting boutique brands, that they’ve earned my respect and have kept my loyalty all these years.

Sadly, K&L can’t ship internationally, so I’ve had to either personally pick up or ask a family member traveling to bring home a few of my bottlers whenever they go. As a result, I’ve only been able to order a handful of bottles from them per year. Seeing the amount of stuff I wish I had bought, it was painful to see some go out of stock forever.

A lot of wish list brands and bottles such as this Guillon-Painturaud VSOP kept being pushed back. After all, brandy isn’t the only type of spirit I order from K&L. They also have a hearty selection of other spirits like rum, whisk(e)y and agave spirits. Those eat up the budget and luggage space too. In short, I’d be a pretty horrible Captain Ahab of booze.

Luckily, I learned about Cognac Expert. OK, correction: someone from Cognac Expert reached out to me. Their being able to ship internationally and selection of Cognac, which is the best I’ve seen so far, has helped me lessen the backlog of Cognacs I’ve been wanting to try.

Before we possibly get an accusing comment insinuating that this is a paid advertisement, here’s a disclaimer: yes, Cognac Expert has sent me samples and a free bottle of Cognac for free in the past. I’ve reviewed them and scored them fairly. Feel free to check reviews one, two, three and four. I’m merely sharing K&L and Cognac Expert as possible sources because I know there’s a fair amount of curious drinkers who are interested in exploring French brandies, they just don’t know where to browse and buy. It’s my wish to let them know where they can order.

Guillon-Painturaud’s history can be traced back to 1610. Just try to digest and appreciate how rare it is to have a product that’s been made by a family that’s been doing it for 400 years. Being a small family operation, they currently do everything on their property. By “everything,” I mean growing the grapes, fermentation, distillation, aging and bottling. They only grow Ugni Blanc grapes in their 18 hectare property in Grand Champagne, which they also use to produce Pineau de Charentes.

Guillon-Painturaud VSOP – Review

40% ABV. $59.99 from K&L Wines. €46 from Cognac Expert.

Color: Golden yellow.

On the nose: Initially sharp and full fruity aromas. I get medium, but short, aromas of dried mango, dried apricot, gooseberries, candied walnuts and lemons. After that are light aromas of oranges, pears with skin and vinegar.

In the mouth: The ethanol sensation isn’t as sharp as on the nose. Which, I think, makes this more expressive. I get light to medium and more lasting tastes of dried apricot, gooseberries, dried mango, lemons, pears with skin, ginger tea, freshly squeezed orange juice and candied walnuts. As I let this breathe more, more sweet fruit and candy notes started came out.

Conclusions:

I have to remind myself that I’m reviewing a VSOP which is considerably younger than the three previous Cognacs I’ve reviewed. But it’s also a good chance to compare it to the readily available VSOPs from the big four (Remy, Hennessy, Martell, and Courvoisier).

This has a full, straightforward but simple profile. There isn’t much complexity and layers but that’s OK for something that’s four years old minimum. I’m only familiar with Remy’s and Henny’s VSOPs since the other two big brands aren’t really active here. I think the two are more like Glenlivet 12 and Glenfiddich 12. They’re easy to drink, safe, mellow, and more on the oaky (boisy side). While this Guillon is more like drinking a Craigellachie 13 or Clynelish 14: less oaky and more spirit-forward.

If you’re looking to wet your beak on a smaller brand VSOP that’s of a different style from the usual brands, try this.

Score: 6/10

John

John is a cocktail and spirits enthusiast born and raised in Manila. His interest started with single malts in 2012, before he moved into rum and mezcal in search of malterntaitves – and a passion for travel then helped build his drinks collection.

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