Tag Archives: spirits

Cognac Dreams

13 Oct

My life has been filled with more drink tastings of late than a swarthy pirate. Not that I’m complaining…especially when it sees me sit out my afternoon in a most obscure locale.

Recently, I headed down to that rather traditional store called Harrods. Cognac was to be drunk and I was invited.

But the cognac was no ordinary cognac – the bar, no ordinary bar. Instead, I found myself ogled by tourists – wandering by on Brompton Road, equipped with cameras and curiosity – as I sat, trying to look ever-so prim in a window display while I drank some choice cognac from Martell.

Still-full cognac glasses wait to be drunk

The occasion was all a part of a push by Martell to up the profile of its fine-line cognacs in Britain. So, the company decided, what better way to do this, than to have a massive window display, featuring a sleek and beautifully designed trunk with all of its premium cognacs, in the premium store in London!

The trunk, made over 1,000 hours by ten master-craftsmen, and designed by Parisian company Pinel & Pinel is a sight to behold: filled with the 28 eaux-de-vie which represent what goes into the four ‘cru’ used by Martell to create its signature cognacs and featuring those four cognacs as well, the 2.06 metre tall trunk is something special.

The Martell Trunk inside the window display at Harrods (Photo Credit: Campbell-Bell Communications)

But, seeing as its price tag comes in at a rather hefty £200,000, and seeing as I haven’t won the Euro Millions of late (sigh), I opted to simply taste the cognac rather than invest in a whole portfolio.

Thierry Giraud explains the beauty of a good cognac

So, after exploring the trunk in all its glory, we sat with Thierry Giraud, Brand Development Manager, to learn more about cognac and be gawked at by the plebs (ie: doing exactly what I’d normally be doing if I were on the other side of the glass).

We learned how Martell began making cognac in 1715 after emigrating from Jersey to sunnier climes in south-western France. We learned how each cognac contains eaux-de-vie from four terroirs: Borderies, Grande and Petite Champagne, and Fins Bois, which are distilled and aged in 350 litre, fine-grained oak casks to stop it having any woody or aggressive flavours. We learned it is becoming most popular with the emerging upper classes in China, Vietnam and Indonesia, who drink it as a salute to getting the first big job (while we here in Britain, with our unemployment rate skyrocketing, choose White Lightning…maybe I should move to Asia?).

Oh, and we drank – I almost forgot that part.

Delicious, smooth, soft-oaked, sometimes bitter, orangey, almondy cognacs…including some from the L’Or de Jean Martell, a £2,998 bottle of the finest kind. It was my favourite, but then, I do have expensive taste.

And by the time I drank samples of four of those fantastic cognacs, I forgot I was being stared at by strangers ambling past…by then, I simply sank into the large, leather-backed chair, and reveled in the oddity of sitting in a window display, indulging in a rather tasty Gwiltypleasure…

The Martell Trunk will be on display in Harrods until the 22 October and available to purchase for £200k, if you happen to have that laying around in your change drawer.

Feeling Frisky for Whisky

4 Oct

As many dear readers may know, I rather looooove whisky. So, it is with great eagerness that I have been preparing my liver for the rather exciting TWE Whisky Show, happening this weekend in London – I even went to a bar last night and drank only tomato juice! Not a hint of bloody mary mix or vodka in sight. Shocking, I know!

The Whisky Show is set to bring more than 40 exhibitors to Vinopolis, near Borough Market, on Friday and Saturday. Although, for you unlucky souls without a ticket yet, Saturday is not an option as it’s already completely sold out!

Billy Abbott, who works with The Whisky Exchange – the fantastic online retailer of whisky, cognac and other fine spirits putting the event on – told me recently this show is not only for those already educated in whisky.

“The intention is to create a show that will appeal to almost everyone, with education at its core. The exhibitors on the stands are just as happy to talk general whisky appreciation as they are whisky geekery and combined with our food pairing, an area where most visitors won’t have much expertise, and cocktail bars we’re hoping that there will be something for everyone,” he explained.

Attendees will not only get access to more than 200 (! – did you just hear me giggle in joy?) whiskies, but also get to choose two “dream drams” from a range of 30. This, too, is different from previous years and Abbot says he hopes guests will be impressed.

“Previously guests have had one token that they could exchange for a dram of a super premium whisky, whereas this year we are giving everyone two. In addition we’re making things a bit more fine-grained with whiskies up to £1000 a bottle costing 1 token, £1000-£2000 2 tokens and over £2000 3 tokens. We’re also allowing people to buy extra tokens to give them the chance to try more of these impressive and in many cases exclusive whiskies,” he said.

For those whisky “geeks” heading to the show, there will no doubt be cries of joy when they realise those rare drams to hand will include a 1973, 30-year-old Midleton (bottled eight years ago, which sold out nearly on release) and a bottle of £3500 Drambuie Jacobite.

All in all, it sounds very impressive. And I can’t wait to get myself to the show on Friday and immerse myself in (vats? barrels? casks?) of whisky! As I’ve told my liver…this is all in the name of writing! And also in the name of indulging in Gwiltypleasures…bring it on!

Tickets cost £95 and include entry to the festival, all tastings, two “dream dram” tokens and a two-course meal at the show brasserie, with a menu designed by whisky and food writer Martine Nouet. For more information, visit: http://www.whisky-show.com

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