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Mar 3, 2012 11:47 AM

A gift of cognac

I'm looking to buy someone a bottle of Cognac for a birthday gift. He's had Louis the Thirteenth and some amazing bottles. I don't want to spend that much, maybe around $150 -$200. I'd like to to be something really special and unique.

I just went to my local store and these bottles looked interesting, however I don't really know very much about cognac.

Ferrand Cognac selecion des Agnes

Cognac Navarre vielle reserve

Cognac pasquet rare

Cognac "the forgotten casks" (astor wines own blend)

Any thoughts/ideas/input would be much appreciated!!

Thanks :)

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  1. Frankly, Louis XIII isn't worth the price. You might also consider Delamain - either the regular Delamain XO or the Vesper. Vesper is more in the price range you mentioned and the regular is quite a bit cheaper.

    1. You might look at Chambers Street Wines--they have Dudognon NV Cognac Heritage 40 year-old which sounds like it might be a good choice (artisinal) and it's at the base of your price range.

      1. Pierre Ferrand makes good Cognacs (and their Plantation series of rums is rather notable as well). It's definitely a safe, solid choice.

        The Forgotten Casks have a great story of how odds and ends of late 19th and early 20th century Cognacs were discovered in a barn. Not enough to blend into a major batch. So they hired master blender Alain Royer to work with tasting groups to assemble their own personal blend. I was at the one held for Julio's Liquors in Westborough, MA. I wrote more about that experience here:

        I cannot speak of the other two Cognacs.

        3 Replies
        1. re: yarm

          Sounds like Astor may be doing a little fibbing. Here is what they say about Forgotten Cask:

          Blended right here at Astor Wines & Spirits by our Spirits Buyer! The average age of the spirits used in the blend is 35 years old, with some dating back to the early 1900s. The nose and palate greet you with gorgeous orchard fruits, maple, cream, and cinnamon.

          1. re: penthouse pup

            Don't see what the fibbing part is. At the event I went to, the store's spirits group (the Loch & Key society) helped to shape the blend between 3 Cognacs (1 base, 2 more aromatics). At Astor, it might have been done with a smaller group that consisted of the master blender and the Astor employee. The test batches was blended in the store, left to rest for a few weeks, and tasted; the best one (percentage of each component) was then blended, bottled, and sent to the store. Sounds like they used some newer Cognacs in the mix to allow for scaling up (such as the base which isn't supposed to be all that notable of a brandy).

            1. re: yarm

              Thanks for clarifying (from reading your blog, it seemed that the blender at the event in Mass. had nothing to do with Astor.)

        2. Be careful with older Cognac's from retailers. They buy private collections, and cannot guarantee the storage. And if a spirit was stored on its side for some time, it will destroy the cork, and this may affect the taste of the spirit.

          7 Replies
          1. re: 4wino

            Thanks for all the help :)

            I'm been looking for other specialty shops to look in in NYC. Besides the Brandy Library I haven't been able to come up with much. Maybe I can get to Chambers St. this week to investigate further.

            Would the consensus say to go with something reliable like the Pierre Ferrand or something like the Dudognon NV Cognac Heritage?

            1. re: lavendula

              It may be the consensus but my opinion is that at some point you are paying for a label. I'll pay for a good XO instead of a VSOP and Pierre Ferrand does make some great cognac. My personal favorite stille remains Delamain and locally I can get Delamain XO for $70.

              1. re: kagemusha49

                Okay, here is what I was able to find:

                Pierre Ferrand - Selection des anges - $124.99
                Delamain Vesper Grande Champagne Cognac - $139.99
                Hine Antique XO Cognac - $129.99

                Top choice?

                1. re: lavendula

                  It's also a matter of style--Ferrand's house style tends towards a richer style than Delamain or Hine...You'll be best off thinking of your friend's preferences.

                  1. re: penthouse pup

                    All I know is that he had had and loved Louis XIII, haha :)

                    1. re: lavendula

                      Need to get this today so any advice would be appreciated!

                      1. re: lavendula

                        Based on F. Paul Pacult's Ultimate Spirits Challenge from 2011:

                        • Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges Cognac Grande Champagne: Score 92, Highly Recommended
                        • Delamain put in two Cognacs, one older and one younger than the Vesper. Both scored very well
                        •• The Younger: Delamain Pale & Dry XO Cognac Grande Champagne: Score 95, Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation
                        •• The Older: Delamain Extra Cognac Grande Champagne: Score 95, Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation

                        Hine did not submit a Cognac to be judged (many places do not since it is rather $$ costly to submit a spirit for ranking) so it is hard to judge its merits relative to this panel's palate.

                        From this, the Delamain product seem to be highly regarded and even more so than Pierre Ferrand's.


          2. I just bought the Navarre, but have yet to taste it, good story but we will see. I highly recommend the Tesesron Lot 53, at about 199, it is the oldest cognac you can find (from 1953) and comes with 2 riedel glasses. Also the Congac is excellent.

            2 Replies
            1. re: toro

              I think you were swayed too much by irrelevant issues like the riedel glasses. Next year, why don't you check out some armagnacs?

              1. re: kagemusha49

                I ended up with the Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges Cognac Grande Champagne. We tried it last night and it was very good. Definitely not as good as the Louis XIII, but better than any XO we have had.