Monday, November 7, 2016

Hennessy Master Blender's No. 1

There is a new Cognac out from Hennessy, of all places, that sounded intriguing when I read about it on the K&L blog.  I generally stay away from the big Cognac houses with their liberal use of caramel and sugar, but these houses have access to a huge number of producers who they have exclusive contracts with. One can only imagine the amazing casks they have access to that get poured willy nilly into their mass market brandies.

This is supposed to be a less sweet, more complex Cognac for the serious brandy drinker. Let's see.

Hennessy Master Blender's Selection No. 1, 43% abv ($80)

The nose is spicy with baking spices and fresh cut oak. The palate is spicy with a light sweetness that turns just slightly fruity. It packs a punch that feels stronger than its abv. The finish is mostly spicy at first, then turns to sweet grape juice notes followed by an artificial sweetener taste, as in diet cola.

As promised, this is more interesting than anything I've tasted from the standard Hennessy line. It's drier with more spice, better balance and more depth. That being said, it's still definitively Hennessy with the same general flavor profile. It's like how Knob Creek is better than Jim Beam Black, but it's still Beam.

All in all, this is drinkable and certainly a step up from standard Hennessy, but it's hard to recommend when there are so many great, complex Armagnacs available for the same price (or cheaper). Still, this is definitely a step in the right direction that I'd love to see more concentration on quality from the big Cognac houses.

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