Review: Courvoisier VSOP Cognac

If you’re an avid reader of this blog (which, let’s be honest, you aren’t) then you’ve probably noticed an upward trend the booze I’ve been drinking.  I’ve been getting all high class with single malts and now a trump card, VSOP Cognac.  I’ve come a long way from drinking vanilla flavored E&J XO.* Anyways, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I am, shall we say more financially liquid, than before.  I’d also be lying if I didn’t admit that anything above $25 didn’t come from my wallet—this was a gift from my old man, who is ever grateful that my student loans now come from my accounts.  Regardless of where it comes from, drinking Cognac has an air of elegance, sophistication and superiority.  Not necessarily superiority in social class mind you, I mean superiority in drinking class; it’s a sign of some maturity and taste.  Perhaps there are some of you thinking about (and youtubing) the song “Pass the Courvoisier,” and you’re probably thinking that kind of kills the cache of the beverage.  I’m not going to assert that Busta Rhymes is a man of exquisite taste, but go ahead disregard that.  What I am saying, and perhaps I should have gotten to this point far earlier, is that good Cognac has not only a fine flavor, but a culture of sophistication with a secret language, a rich history.  With fancy French wine regions as it’s provenance (this is 50-50 Grand and Petit Champagne) and fancy grade names, V.S.O.P. meaning Very Superior Old Pale, the language of Cognac is almost like a secret code for the knowing drinker.  Take into account the fact that Courvoisier is known as the Cognac of Napoleon (also Busta), and you know that this is drink with history.  Rival Hennessey can only boast the dictatorship of Kim Jung-Il, amateur.

So what do you get once you’ve joined the brotherhood?  Here’s my impressions: Warm on the tongue with an herbal aroma, a rounded molasses body, and a rich vanilla finish with a warm bite that cuts through and lingers like a furnace in the back of your throat.  Overall it’s quite well balanced with pleasant dark overtones, though the heat isn’t actually my favorite.  Somehow, though I love high proof bourbon, this heat was unexpected and I’m not crazy about it.  I am pretty crazy about the rest of the flavors though, and most of all, I’m crazy about the way it makes me feel.  Beyond that oh so wonderful cognac buzz, which wraps your brain up like warm a down sleeping bag, there is that wonderful feeling that you’re drinking in good company when you drink VSOP Courvoisier—even if you’re just watching Seinfeld alone and still in your workout clothes.

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*My E&J XO Brandy post is actually by far my most read, so perhaps I should keep my damned mouth shut.

Deanston Virgin Oak: Or the Legend of the million pound IRN BRU

When I went to the liquoría this evening I was met with a rare conundrum. I didn’t actually need anything.  I’ve got plenty of bourbon around, so I had free reign.  I was debating buying an Irish whiskey, a cognac, or, dare I say, a scotch.  Yes, I’ve said often in the past that I don’t drink scotch but after the Glenlivet Nàdurra I reviewed not long ago I haven’t been as averse to scotch.  I still think it’s overrated and overpriced but, in the end, I convinced myself to take a chance.  I bought the scotch.  What drew me to the Deanston was quite simple—I’d never heard of it, it was affordable, and it stated on the box that it was un-chill filtered.  Chill filtering takes out a lot of the wood oils from whiskey, and I wanted those oils.  Additionally it seemed bold to leave all the oils in from the fresh American oak (coopered and charred at the heart of bourbon country) they used.  I’ll also admit I was a little afraid.  In my experience scotch around the $20 price point is at best mediocre.  This didn’t even have an age statement on it.  So, for $24 I became the somewhat skeptical owner of a bottle of Deanston Virgin Oak.

This story took a strange turn about 4 hours later.  My family decided we’d watch a film on the Netflix, and I became drawn to a film called The Angel’s Share.  If you’re wondering why, you’ll want to look up that term.  Anyways, the film is a story about a rather rough bunch from a little city in Scotland.  These folks have gotten themselves in a spot of trouble with the law for a variety of reasons and are stuck doing community service.  While doing community service the main character, a lad named Robbie with a history of violence begins to befriend the fellow who runs the program after having the shite beaten out of him by the family of his baby mama and over a glass of good scotch.  The fellow, Harry, ends up making Robbie and several of the other buggers into big fans of their native spirit by bringing them to distilleries and tastings and Robbie begins to develop quite the palate.  The story then takes a turn as Robbie, trying to escape his past, hatches a plan for a heist of a wee bit of a cask of ultra-rare scotch.  I’ll leave the rest to you to find out.  Anyways, this film coincided perfectly with my night.  By coincided I mean there was a coincidence, and a rather large one at that.  That distillery the fellow takes Robbie and the other cons to? Deanston.  The scotch they’re sampling at that distillery—Deanston Virgin Oak.  The stars not only aligned, they collided and exploded.  Anyways, I found it to be a very enjoyable film that balances drama with humor and leaves you feeling good.  The scotch, well, the scotch…

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I really need glencairn glasses…

The scotch is a pleasing stroke of luck.  I took the chance fearing I’d regret my decision and, well, I do not.  This dram presents itself a very pale golden yellow, with legs longer than a Czech model and a nose that starts light with a bit of airy citrus and honey and then sneaks up to stab up my nostril a bit with smoky booze.  The taste matches the light nose with a very delicate yet supple entry that rolls toffee, vanilla, pear and a hint of peat lusciously over the palate  and leaves the tongue with a slick citrus finish and an appropriate 46.3% alcohol of mid throat heat.  As you’d expect with the lack of age statement this is clearly a young whiskey, but at that it’s possibly a child prodigy.  Overall this is a full bodied, dare I say, voluptuous, whiskey with a light crispness and a subtlety beyond its age—and price.

Super Bowl

I may not care much for watching sports but I do enjoy a good beer. Here’s what I’ll be drinking tonight: Dogfish Head Piercing Pils, Green Flash Double Stout Black Ale, North Coast Brewing Old Stock Ale, Victory Hop Devil, Dogfish Head Chicory Stout, Smuttynose Durty Muddy Season Hoppy Brown Ale. What’re you drinking tonight? Share in the comments