Friday, May 2, 2014

Distill Wars Episode I: Crap vs Cognac

When I was at the incredibly immature age of 21, I think a shot or two of Courvoisier VS snuck in to the middle of the lineup of a massive list of booze downed at a notoriously shady bar one night.

The motivation to try Courvoisier was "The Ladies Man" - SNL skit turned feature film.

It's the All American Classic
That night ended with a river of vomit. And that is my entire experience with brandy.

So here I am, studying to be a Certified Specialist of Spirits, and I've never really experienced brandy. Brandy is even the main reason that I'm going for the CSS. As a CSW planning on becoming a CWE I should probably know something about the spirit made from wine, right?

What the hell is wrong with me? I should probably try this shit! In, like, a sober state of mind or whatever!

So I bought two nips:

Hartley's VS Brandy - $0.89 retail 
Courvoisier VS Cognac - $4.25 retail

The first thing I noticed when I poured them is the color. Courvoisier is darker and just looks much more appealing. From just standing above the glasses on the counter, the air hovering above the Hartley glass is pure ethanol while the Courvoisier has me convinced I spilled vanilla extract somewhere.

I knew where this was going from the time I decided to do this experiment and it's already going that way.

Hartley is from Italy and made by Sazerac, apparently. It smells exactly like cheap cooking Sherry and an apple slice that's been left out too long and has gone brown. So it pretty much smells like oxidation. The flavor isn't all that bad but it's kind of obvious from the sweetness that there might be some flavoring in that coloring agent they use.

Courvoisier is from France. Aduh. The volatile alcohol is less harsh. The nose has aroma of vanilla, toffee and banana bread. The palate is pretty spicy at the beginning and on the finish, but there's a moment there in the middle where that disappears and it coats your tongue in a nice mellow silkiness. The oak attributes here are clearly real. It's still pretty rough, which leads me to imagine the appeal of Courvoisier's next tier must be that it's smoother.


I know the VS is the basic level for Courvoisier Cognac and it isn't the best Cognac out there. I'm no idiot. Alright, maybe I am but stay with me here... The Courvoisier is the clear winner between these two as everybody should have guessed. It's got more character. More authentic character as well.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the Hartley. I mean, it's supposed to be cheap garbage and that's exactly what it is. I bet it's actually world's better than other shit brandies now and throughout history. But it just got its ass whooped in this matchup.

This was fun. I think Distill Wars might become a recurring thing. :) 

1 comment:

  1. End of the month, I will spend 2 days with Cognac Guy Lheraud. I will try to take notes (I will the translator for those people) and I will share it with you. That will be very interesting, especially for the tasting and dinner :)) Winealex from twitter



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