Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brandy Friday: Delamain Cognac

It's been a while since we had a Brandy Friday, but now that we are heading into fall, I thought it would be a good time to taste some Cognac.

Delamain is a Cognac firm founded by an Irishman in 1762 which is still family owned. Delamain is a negociant (what we would call in whiskey an independent bottler) which means they purchase and bottle Cognac but do not distill it themselves. They specialize in very aged Cognacs and have been dealing with some of their source distillers for over a century.

I tried three of the Delamain series, all of which are 40% alcohol and made from brandies from the Grand Champagne region. The prices listed below are for 750 ml bottles, but the sampler pictured above contains 200 ml bottles of each brandy. I don't know if the sampler is still being made, but last time I checked, it was still on the shelf at Wine & Liquor Depot for around $90, which as you can see from the prices below, is a great deal.

Delamain Pale & Dry XO ($80).

This is actually the youngest Cognac in the Delamain line. The nose is light and fruity with raisin notes. I was expecting sweetness based on the nose but the palate is surprisingly dry and a bit oaky with some sweetness on the tail.
After a promising nose, it's a bit flat.

Delamain Vesper ($135).

This one has a rich, beautiful nose with a great balance of fruit (grape and pear) and oak, comparable to a great Bourbon nose. The palate on this one starts with sweet caramel and then strong, acidic, fruity notes which continue to develop into the finish. This one is extremely drinkable.

Delamain Tres Venerable ($270)

Even richer in the nose than the Vespers, the Tres Venerable nose is sweet but less fruity with some good oak and polished wood character. The palate is delicate with a strong wine grape flavor and then sweetness; wood comes out on the finish. This one has a very nice balance of fruit, sugar and wood and keeps calling me back for more.

I wasn't thrilled with the XO but very much enjoyed the Delamain Vespers and Tres Venerable. However, on a price to quality ratio, you'd probably be better off with a Germain-Robin or Jean Fillioux. If you do want to experience the Delamains, the sampler is definitely a good way to go.

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