There’s something truly amazing on our shores as of this August, and I challenge you to really have an open mind to what’s coming up in Outturn. Come this August, we’ve got a meaty Mortlach, a youthful Linkwood, and a cracking peated Bunnahabhain on offer among other delights. But you’ll also notice the release of C1. C in this case stands of ‘Cognac’. This is an absolute milestone of a bottling for the SMWS as the first Cognac release ever. You’ve probably seen a few ‘B’ bourbon casks, the odd ‘R’ rum release, and perhaps a couple of ‘A’ Armagnac casks, but this is the first ‘C’ and a true collectors item.
For those not familiar, Cognac is a type of brandy that can only be produced in the wine-making region surrounding the town of the same name. In production, it’s as protected in usage as the word ‘Scotch’ is for Scottish whisky. Cognacs produced outside this region are simply known as brandy! Remembering that every Society cask bears an age statement from as young as two years upwards, the age on this special C1 is ‘XO’. In Cognac ageing that means ‘Extra Old’, one of the very highest designations formally offered after the younger and cheaper VS and VSOP casks.
The distilling process, even for this particular French house, is remarkably similar to many whisky distilleries you may already know and love. It comes off the copper pot stills at around 70% ABV as a clear spirit after two distillation runs. You’ll also know that ever Society cask is natural cask strength: this one clocking in at 48.4% may seem low, but that gives you an indication of how aged this cask is and given Cognac is almost always bottled at 40%, this one packs quite a punch!
Andrew’s notes on this (see below) summarise a new addition to the spirits diversity of the Society by exclaiming even on the nose that it’s like a sublime blend between an oloroso sherry and an aged, dark rum. That alone has got me on alert! The summary on the nose concludes with stating it’s one of the best noses they’ve ever encountered on a local panel.
This is exactly the kind of drinker and/or collectors item from the SMWS that won’t hang around. Those with an open mind and willing to see how good a Cognac from a Society cask can be is best act fast on securing a bottle. I know I will.
C1 will be released Friday 4th August, midday.
SMWS National Ambassador
Local Tasting Panel Notes
Nose: The first nose is like a sublime blend between an oloroso sherried whisky and an aged, dark rum. Boozy prunes, soaked fruits, tiramasu, sweet embers, a wee hint of marzipan, and polished oak. Quite the charmer! The other incredible thing was to note how much the nose changed with time: Ever expanding, and becoming more open, complex, multi-dimensional and appealing. In fact, one of the best noses we’ve encountered.
Palate: The palate tastes exactly as the nose prepared us for. Again, there’s a tantalising mix that we likened to being half sherried whisky and half rum, although perhaps the balance is more in favour of the rum. It’s insanely viscous and oily, coating your mouth with rich, flavoursome spirit. The tiramasu is dark and juicy; the oak is dry yet adds persona; and the booze-soaked fruits are like a dark dessert cocktail.
Finish: Wonderfully rich and fulfilling. The depth is gorgeous and – unlike many other brandies – the finish is full-bodied and layered.
Comments: It didn’t take us long to pick this was a brandy; even less time to pick that it was an exceptionally stellar one. Multi-layered, complex, balanced, integrated, and with great contribution from the fruit, the spirit, and the oak, this is a Cognac quite unlike anything this panel had previously encountered. What’s more, it’s just SO drinkable…incredibly more-ish and each sip beckons you back for more. Not sure when the Society will bottle another Cognac, but this one will be a tough act to follow.