First buy, anything good around £50?

For all questions and issues concerning the world of Cognac. Feel free to ask questions!
JimM
New distillate
New distillate
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:52 pm

First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby JimM » Mon Aug 05, 2013 8:42 pm

Hi all

New to the forum and to drinking brandy so please be gentle with me. I'm looking to move up a step from the bottle of Courvoisier VS I found in the back of the drinks cabinet but as my palette is still in it's infancy I'm not sure what to go for. Not having tried much I can't even give any pointers on what I like, just that I'm not a fan of whisky (yet!) and looking for something I can sip in the evening whilst watching the box. Don't mind if it's Cognac, Armagnac or some other brandy but a £100+ bottle would probably be wasted on me at this stage so I'm hoping there is something around the £40-£50 mark that will help me develop my appreciation.

Over to you guys for some recommendations

Cheers

Jim

Pierre
VSOP-Cognac
VSOP-Cognac
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 3:17 pm

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby Pierre » Mon Aug 05, 2013 9:37 pm

I can give you a somewhat uneducated opinion if you wish :mrgreen:
Given that you're talking in pounds I'll guess you're from the UK. You don't like whisky but do you like bourbon ? If you do, I've just found out there are fantastic stuff for reasonnable money: the Blanton's Straight from the Barrel for example is my best recent discovery (thanks again numen for that ;) ). A bit cheaper you have stuff like Elijah Craig 12YO, Blanton's Original, Wild Turkey 101, Buffalo Trace that have good reputation as basic but decent stuff (some of those I tried and liked, some others I still have to try). Anyway other peeps from the forum can give you much better advice than me on the subject...

If you go to cognac it's usually a bit more expensive if you want some decent stuff (imo) but you can find some interesting things below 50£: if you can find it, Meukow VS or VSOP would be good value for your money. If you look around the cognac section here you'll spot a few VSOP that could be worth the try, a lot of people recommend the younger expressions of Chateau de Beaulon (the 7YO and the 12YO), BSinkY also appreciates Chateau de Montifaud VSOP and Frapin VSOP, which should be affordable (I didn't try those). Hardy Napoleon has been appreciated around here but should disappear soon since it's discontinued... People here usually don't have a particularly good opinion of the big brands VS and VSOP (Rémy Martin, Courvoisier, Martell or Hennessy).

Armagnac is usually a bit more affordable (for the moment). It's also more difficult to find particular expressions (except for Laubade which seems widely available but not at all cheap usually). I'd recommend a Delord 25YO as a very decent product, if you spot it go for it, as a beginner I think you won't be disappointed (I haven't been !). Marquis de Montesquiou XO is also not bad (or at least was, I've only had an old sample :P ).

I don't have much more to say to help you, you'll have to manage with that :mrgreen:

numen
VSOP-Cognac
VSOP-Cognac
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:52 am

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby numen » Mon Aug 05, 2013 10:58 pm

Hi Jim,

I'd be curious to know what you liked or didn't like about the whiskies that you've tried, and which ones. That way, we may be able to find something that more suits your palate as an entry, and have a better chance of success finding something that you'll like. Pierre makes a very good point about the price and value of cognac. In general, I've found that many of the VSOPs that I've had have left me underwhelmed, and that's generally where you'll find yourself with 50 quid. You can get some stock with decent age on it from smaller houses, but I have not tried them and cannot vouch for them.

I'm looking at The Whisky Exchange and Master of Malt websites for some ideas for what's in the UK and at that price (unless there is a preferred store that you have). I'll vouch for the Chateau de Beaulon 7 and 12 ans. The 7 is really fun, young Folle Blanche, though the 12 is maybe more complex and polished. It's also pretty interesting because the estate is not in the big three districts in Cognac (Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and the Borderies). Generally, though, for that price, you'll get more (expensive) VS offerings and many VSOP expressions. I'll echo Pierre here and refer you to BSinKY in the meantime; he's much more knowledge about VSOPs and is very adventurous when it comes to trying things. I'm waiting to try some such offerings from Master of Malt (and their Drinks by the Dram -- which may be a way to try a few things for a reasonable value.)

Another point for Pierre; Armagnac is less expensive, though some houses/estates are pretty darn expensive, and run the same costs and higher end Cognac producers (Boingneres, Laberdolive, and, to a slightly lesser extent, Laubade.) Some folks like Delord, and I've had some success with a few Baron de Sigognacs in the 20-25 year range. Is there any profile in particular that you want? We could suggest something fruitier, sweeter, spicier, or more austere depending on your preferences.

-- And, Pierre, I'm glad that you liked the Blanton's! It's an underappreciated secret. I think that it's every bit as good as the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, but it's not hyped as much because it's not available in the US, so prices stay reasonable!

BSinTX
VSOP-Cognac
VSOP-Cognac
Posts: 494
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:52 am

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby BSinTX » Tue Aug 06, 2013 12:32 am

Welcome to the forum!


My question to you is: What is available to you, specifically between 45 and 100 pounds? This will allow everyone here to get a better understanding of what is on the shelves in your area.

Are you specifically searching for brandy?

JimM
New distillate
New distillate
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:52 pm

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby JimM » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:22 am

Hi all

Thanks for the replys so far some good useful info there

To answer a couple of the questions that have been raised.....

I don't think I was realkly being fair when I said that I don't like whisky as to be honest all I've really tried are the high street brands (Bells, Teachers etc) and found them pretty rough, especially the smell. No doubt if I was to give a decent single malt a go things would be different but for the minute I'm going to stick with the brandy - my wallet won't allow me to pursue too many different routes!

Yes I am in the UK, local opportunities to buy are fairly limited just the big name brands from the local supermarkets unfortunately the smaller independant off licences (liquor stores?) seem to be a thing of the past round here :( At least one of the supermarkets does stock Hine Rare VSOP at the £40 mark - would this be a worthwhile step up or should I aim higher? I'm only about 12 miles outside London so could get to the The Whiskey Exchange fairly easily which opens up a much greater range of options. The Chateau de Beaulon certainly sounds like a possible !

JimM
New distillate
New distillate
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:52 pm

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby JimM » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:48 am

Sorry one more question, what's everyone's opinion on warming the glass\brandy? Is it a bit old school these days or is it the only way to go.
In my very brief experience it seems to make the drink more mellow if I've warmed the glass in hot water before pouring.

numen
VSOP-Cognac
VSOP-Cognac
Posts: 629
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:52 am

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby numen » Tue Aug 06, 2013 10:18 am

Hi Jim,

In general, I think that, if roughness was what threw you off from the cheap blended whiskies, you'll be in better shape with most readily available cognacs. Most houses are attempting to create smooth, light, and relatively easy cognacs -- though they do use additives to do that and achieve some degree of consistency across releases. The folks at The Whisky Exchange are knowledgeable as well and could offer some good insight and recommendations, I'm sure. The Chateau de Beaulon isn't as "polished" as some of the others, probably like the Hine VSOP, but I do think that it is better, if that makes sense.

As for warming, it's all in the eye (or hand) of the beholder. Personally, as a rule, I don't use a flame or hot water on the outside of the glass to warm a spirit. Warming it actually is just releases more of the alcohol, which gives the perception of a lower ABV spirit. On the other hand, sometimes I find that I'm keeping a glass in hand for a while, which probably creates a slightly similar or milder effect. Your glasswear will make a difference. Snifters tend to concentrate the aromas at a point where the alcohol is rising, so even at 40%, spirits can seem 'sharp.' A popular glass for cognac/brandy is the tulip (and some with an outward-turned lip for younger spirits). In general, though, the glass is very similar to the Glencairn, which is far less expensive.

My only advice to you in terms of drinking is: drink in whatever way maximizes your enjoyment of it. If you prefer it in a warmed glass, then by all means drink it in a warmed glass! If you prefer a snifter, use that! Don't worry about how other people are drinking their spirits or what they think of something; you're the best judge of what you like. I chat a lot with people trying similar spirits, and we all have, sometimes, very different opinions about how good or bad something is. That's some of the fun. Just my soapbox moment.

Pierre
VSOP-Cognac
VSOP-Cognac
Posts: 243
Joined: Fri May 03, 2013 3:17 pm

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby Pierre » Tue Aug 06, 2013 9:18 pm

I'm going with numen on this "warming the glass" thing, do try different things for yourself and see what you like, don't believe that any opinion about spirits can be fully objective and completely general.
As for the Hine Rare, I had a sample, it's not my favourite but for me it's pretty decent, better than the average VSOP in my limited experience (there again, it's a bit subjective, you'll have to try and make mistakes... I heard many praises about Pierre Ferrand cognac, bought their VSOP "Ambre" and I just can't drink it straight, it's not for me). I see that on The Whisky Exchange you can find several of the names we gave you here, try to have a go at some of them and come back tell us what you thought of it :D

BSinTX
VSOP-Cognac
VSOP-Cognac
Posts: 494
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2011 2:52 am

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby BSinTX » Wed Aug 07, 2013 3:08 am

I concur, you should try warming a glass and if you find it to be a bunch of nonsense, we are in agreement.


Aside from the humor, only you can decide what you like and don't like. My suggestion is you try everything you can afford (do NOT go into debt buying spirits!!) Try it with some water and without. As numen stated, the glass is probably the most effective tool in your arsenal. I am a clumsy guy and so prefer the Glencairn whisky glass over the stemmed tulip glass. They have the same shape but the whisky glass is more robust as it has a fat stub rather than a fragile stem. I don't like Scotch either, so don't feel left out. I enjoy numen's reviews on his samplings nonetheless!!

JimM
New distillate
New distillate
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Aug 05, 2013 4:52 pm

Re: First buy, anything good around £50?

Postby JimM » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:51 pm

Thanks again guys, I'll stick a couple of Glancairn glasses on to my order when I go to TWE

I also noticed that one of the online supermarkets had a £20 off voucher so I've got a bottle of the Hine Rare on the way as well - it's got to be worth the £22 it ended up costing :)


Return to “Questions and general subjects about Cognac”