Grand Marnier Tasting Notes

Grand Marnier

Extravagant. Stylish. Chic. Words many would use to describe a bottle that sits upon many a back-bar – Grand Marnier. The orange liqueur from France is also steeped in history, dating back to 1827.

In this year, a gentleman named Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle founded a distillery in Neauphe-le-Château, France that produced fruit liqueurs. In 1876, his granddaughter married Louis-Alexandre Marnier, the son of a wine-making family from the Sancerre region, culminating in the Marnier Lapostolle family. The original name and product of ‘Curaçao Marnier’ came about in 1880, but when inventor Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle had his friend César Ritz (gentleman behind such hotels as Hôtel Ritz in Paris and The Ritz Hotel in London) taste his creation, he enjoyed it so much that he suggested the name we now all come to know so well – Grand Marnier.

Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle loved his fine cognac, and had the innovative idea of blending cognac with a rare variety of orange from the Caribbean. This ‘Citrus bigaradia’ was a luxurious item and combined the cognac with essence of distilled orange. The start of Grand Marnier, the year is 1880. Recognition followed and at the turn of the century, Grand Marnier had been awarded numerous medals in national and international competitions including Universal Expositions in Chicago in 1893 and in Paris in 1900. The fan-fare had many trying to purchase, including Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph who is said to have ordered 12 cases of Grand Marnier after tasting it at the Grand Hotel in Monte Carlo. The Ritz hotel also had Grand Marnier offered to each client at the end of every meal – a testament to César Ritz and his belief that this was something unique. 

Over the years, Grand Marnier has been the staple of many an event, milestone or drink, and now enjoys limited edition bottling’s to really pay homage to the French craft. I’m lucky enough to have one of the more recent stylings that gives a nod to Parisian chic. A bottle design of midnight blue overlaid with gilded gold frieze outline of the Parisian skyline. This is the eleventh specially designed bottle that first started back in 1927 and Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire.

Grand MarnierBut the liquid inside, how does it come about?

Each year the finest eaux-de-vie, made exclusively with Ugni Blanc grapes, go through two distinct distillations, using traditional copper pot stills. It is then stored in handcrafted oak casks, and aged in the cellars of the Marnier Lapostolle family’s Château de Bourg-Charente. The ‘Citrus bigaradia’ is handpicked at the Marnier-Lapostolle plantation in the Caribbean, where the oranges are then cut into quarters while still green at their aromatic peak. The pulp is removed and the peels are left to dry in the sun. Upon arrival at Château de Bourg-Charente, the dried orange peels are macerated in neutral alcohol and then carefully distilled to produce an aromatic concentrate – essence of ‘Citrus bigaradia’. The two main components are then carefully blended with other ingredients, according to a secret recipe transmitted from father to son for generations , and is then slowly aged in French oak casks.

So with such high prestige, how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge – 40%

A soft nose of orange with a sweet chocolate aroma slowly arriving. Rather strong on the palate though with a slight burn, however it soon becomes rather refreshing with a long, sweet offering.

Of course, over time, Grand Marnier has adapted itself behind bars to become a staple within the cocktail world. Famous for its B52 and Grand Cosmopolitan, its flavours can create some stunning offerings –

Red Lion

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

30 ml Grand Marnier
30 ml London dry gin
22.5 ml Orange juice
22.5 ml lemon juice
1 dash Grenadine

Red Lion
Red Lion

Method – 

Shake with ice and strain.


Grand Marnier Sour

Glass – 


Ingredients – 

60 ml Grand Marnier
30 ml Freshly squeezed lemon juice
15 ml Freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 fresh egg white

Method – 

Shake with ice and strain. For guaranteed effect, place a maraschino cherry in the bottom of the glass. Serve the cocktail in a tumbler.

Grand Marnier doesn’t just stop at drinks though, food has long been associated with the liqueur. In 1905, the chef Escoffier, father of modern French cuisine, made the crêpe Suzette and the Grand Marnier soufflé famous throughout the world. Both desserts were enjoyed by the Prince of Wales, a great fan of the liqueur, and are still considered masterpieces of French cuisine. And now you can enjoy them too –

Classic Crêpes Suzette

Ingredients –

Crêpe batter:
(makes 15 crêpes 20 cm in diameter)

250 ml milk
50 ml lager
2 eggs (100 g)
110 g flour
25 g butter
15 g sugar
1 g salt
25 ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge liqueur

Crêpe Suzette
Crêpe Suzette

Suzette butter:

200 g butter
125 g sugar
Zest of ½ orange, finely grated
Zest of ½ lemon, finely grated
125 ml orange juice
50 ml lemon juice
35 ml Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge liqueur

Method – 

Combine the salt and sugar with the flour. Add the eggs one at a time. Gradually stir in the beer followed by the milk. Pour in the melted butter followed by the liqueur. If possible, let stand overnight in the refrigerator. Allow the butter to soften. Warm together the sugar, lemon and orange juice as well as the zests which have macerated for 15 minutes in the liqueur. Gradually add this mixture to the butter then beat with a mixer for 3 minutes. Warm the crêpes then coat them with the Suzette butter using a pastry brush. Serve immediately.

See. Just like I said – Extravagant. Stylish. Chic.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mandarine Napoléon


Liqueurs is a funny category. Many of you may not realise how much liqueurs you can consume in a life-time. Cocktails, after-dinner, pre-dinner, coffee, hot chocolate all could have some kind of liqueur to usually sweeten up or emphasize a flavour. They can be seen on bars around the world but rarely would you point one out and know what flavour it’s going to unleash. Well if you see the following – I’ll ask you to tip your hat.

First bottled in 1892, but produced some time before, Mandarine Napoléon was said to be a personal favourite of the Corsican-born emperor, Napoléon Bonaparte. Napoléon’s physician, Antoine-Francois de Fourcroy, first had the idea of macerating mandarins in alcohol and then blending the distillate with cognac. The finest essential oils of mandarins and its distinctive flavour comes from Sicilian oranges. Four spices, rich in essential oils and aromatics, and two plants achieve this unique composition of flavours, with the colour drawn from these giving the spirit a natural look.

Due to the status of mandarines being rather exclusive, and able to thrive on the Corsica island of home-boy Napoléon Bonaparte. It is believed that he acquired the taste for the macerated mandarines served to him by his physician.

The liqueur as we know it today started out in 1892 after being refined according to a recipe with cognac, mandarin orange peel from Corsica, Sicily and Andalusia and a secret mix of herbs and spices. It was then matured for three years. The recipe hasn’t changed and is now sold world-wide and winning awards along the way.

Mandarine Napoléon XO
Mandarine Napoléon XO

So how does Mandarine Napoléon fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Mandarine Napoléon – 38%

Fantastic fresh, ripe mandarin aroma on the nose that carries on nicely onto the palate. Incredible sweetness but hit with a bold, warmth of fresh fruit and citrus as it draws out.

Mandarine Napoléon XO – 40%

Just 2000 bottles of this were produced in 2008. Mandarin peels are macerated and blended with the 27 herbs and spices that make the Mandarine secret recipe. The resulting distillate is then combined with Grande Champagne XO cognac (which makes up a generous 43% of the total) to create this Grande Reserve.
Light and fragrant upon the nose, with soft notes of the mandarine coming through. Sharp and rich once on the palate, with plenty of long, warm manadrine flavours on the finish. Exquisite.

Simple, bold, fresh. Perfect for this –

Mandarines Old Fashioned
Mandarines Old Fashioned

Mandarine’s Old Fashioned

Glass –


Ingredients –

50ml Mandarine Napoléon
50ml Bourbon

Method –

Place one brown sugar cube into a glass and muddle with the bourbon. Add two splashes of Angostura Bitters and the Mandarine Napoléon with a good scoop of ice and stir well. Garnish with a mandarin peel twist.

Something easily created at home or in any bar that stocks a decent bourbon. Better get hunting. Bring a Napoléon styled hat too.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Grey Goose Presents . . . Grey Goose Le Fizz Gift Box for Christmas

Grey Goose Le Fizz Gift Pack

GREY GOOSE® presents GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Box for Christmas

GREY GOOSE, the World’s Best Tasting vodka, presents the perfect Christmas gift for discerning vodka drinkers – the GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Box.

The GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Box contains a 70cl bottle of GREY GOOSE vodka, two beautifully designed crystal GREY GOOSE Le Fizz flutes with a frosted finish and lone goose detail and the recipe for making a GREY GOOSE Le Fizz, the ultimate celebratory cocktail.

GREY GOOSE Le Fizz is an elegant and refreshing combination of GREY GOOSE vodka, fresh lime juice and elderflower, served in a flute topped with chilled soda. A cocktail guaranteed to add a touch of sparkle this Christmas.

GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Gift Pack is available to buy from Selfridges in London, Birmingham, Manchester and online for £65.00.


GREY GOOSE Le Fizz Recipe

GREY GOOSE’s signature cocktail is an elegant and refreshing combination of GREY GOOSE vodka, fresh lime juice and elderflower, topped with chilled soda water.

35ml GREY GOOSE vodka
15ml bottlegreen elderflower cordial
15ml Freshly squeezed lime juice
Top up with ice-cold soda water


Shake and double strain into a flute and top up with ice-cold soda water

Stevens Garnier Trade Tasting Roadshow

A few weeks back, Castlefield in Manchester was the base for the Oxford wine agency of Stevens Garnier to showcase their very best offerings in their latest trade tasting roadshow. Attracting wine makers from countries including Austria, Portugual, California and France, as well as industry folk like Ruth Yates of Corks Out and Chris Green of the Manchester Wine School, you just know your going to be in for a treat! But before we get onto the wines, who are Stevens Garnier?

It all started in 1976 by two gentleman named Edward Garnier and Alastair Stevens, and carried on by Alastair after the early departure of Edward for the next 32 years. The relatively small team invested themselves into ground breaking imports from Argentina, Chile, Australia and Canada in the early eighties – something of an unknown territory back then. Stevens Garnier were also amongst the first to bring Bag in Box wines to the UK and one of the first to form a winery/agency joint venture when Sogrape of Portugal took a stake in the company in 1986.

So with a little Stevens Garnier knowledge brought to the table, the event was set in the Castlefield Rooms next to Dukes 92, where a horseshoe of wines (105 to be precise, with 5 Champagnes and 10 ports also making the grade) were presented to us, with the wine makers waiting with a wealth of information as we prepared to sip and swirl through the delights! Now I have to admit, I didn’t try all 120 offerings, but below I give to you a selection with my thoughts and tasting notes on each –

Champagne Bernard Remy Carte Blanche – 12%

Light honey and citrus on the nose that develops into an intense freshness once it hits the palate. Lots of mint flavours mixing well with the lively bubbles.

Champagne Bernard Remy Blanc de Blancs – 12%

Bright and lively nose with no significant aroma, but soft offerings of citrus are present on the palate.

Champagne Bernard Remy Grand Cru – 12%

Soft citrus aromas swirl on the nose and hit hard on the palate and gives a long after-taste.

Champagne Bernard Remy Rose – 12%

Lots of fresh fruit on the nose dance well, with significant dark red fruits coming through on the palate to create an intense finish.

Champagne Bernard Remy Vintage – 12%

Light aromas of vanilla lie on the nose, with a good hit of floral flavours hitting the palate.

Cave de Kientzheim-Kayesersberg Pinot Gris 2010, France – 13%

Bold hit of fresh, ripe fruits on the nose that leads straight onto the palate. Short, sharp and crisp.

TYDY Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays de Loire 2011, France – 12.5%

Herbal and floral aromas mix well on the nose, with a good blast of grapefruit. Fresh fruit flavours on the palate, with a fantastic crisp finish.

Domaine Joel Delauney Les Cabotines Rose 2010, France – 13%

Lots of fresh fruits that become masked with a subtle flow of spice on the nose. Soft offerings of fruit on the palate sooth down the aromas that leads to a refreshing end.

Vacheron Sancerre Blanc ‘Le Paradis’ 2009, France – 13%

Incredible ripe green fruits on the nose that leads to a well-rounded sharp flavour on the palate.

Domaine Corsin Pouily Fuisse 2009 France

Elegant mix of citrus and floral on the nose, with a good balance on the palate that has a soft ending.

Domaine L’Arnesque Cotes du Rhone Rouge ‘Fleur de Garrigues’ 2010, France

Black pepper with hints of liquorice on the nose and then combines well on the palate. Very smooth.

Domaine L’Arnesque Chateauneuf du Pape ‘Capelane’ 2010, France

Lots of intense berry aromas on the nose, with hints of figs and prunes as it makes its way to the palate.

Domaine Rose Dieu Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010, France – 14.5%

Almonds and fresh fruits dominate the nose, with the fruit becoming bolder as it hits the palate. Long finish.

Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas Blanc 2010, France – 13.5%

Ripe grapefruit mixes well with fresh exotic fruits on the nose. Very lively and fresh on the palate.

Clos Bellane Cotes du Rhone Villages Valreas Rouge 2010, France – 14.5%

On the nose there is a good mix of blackcurrant and pepper, with the tannins on the palate emphasising the aromas. A long, fruity finish.

Jeaninne Boutin Cote Rotie ‘Bonnevaux’ 2009, France – 13.5%

Rich blackberry aromas are complimented by floral notes on the nose. Soft fruit offerings on the palate that leads to a good, fresh finish.

Chateau Genisson Blanc, AOC Cadillac 2003, France – 13%

Aromas of floral and peach combine with almond on the nose. Bold fruit flavours on the palate with a fantastic long sweetness.

Canapi Pinot Grigio 2011, Italy – 12.2%

Lots of citrus and tropical notes on the nose that combine well on the palate too. Well-balanced and refreshing.

Canapi Nero d’Avola 2010, Italy – 13.4%

A blast of red cherries hits the nose before hints of spice follows it onto the palate. Raspberry flavours follow nicely.

Perfume de Sonsierra 2009

Sonsierra Perfume de Sonsierra 2009, Spain – 14.5%

Fantastic mix of strawberry and liquorice mixing well on the nose, with subtle hints of roasted coffee greeting the palate. An incredibly long and smooth offering.

Duque de Viseu Dao Branco, Portugal 13%

Ripe fruit aromas of grapefruit and pear combine on the nose, which become heavy once it hits the palate.

Herdade do Peso Reserva, Portugal – 14.5%

Intense mixture of blackberries and raspberries on the nose with subtle aromas of spice and pepper coming through. Soft and well-balanced on the palate.

Los Boldos Momentos Chardonnay 2011, Chile – 13.5%

Aromas of green fruit blend nicely, with tropical fruits developing nicely on the palate.

Finca Flichman Tanguero Chardonnay 2011, Argentina – 13%

Light white fruits combine with floral notes on the nose, with a long offering of pineapple and peach on the palate finish.

Finca Flichman Misterio Malbec 2011, Argentina – 13.3%

Lots of deep aromas of black plums on the nose. Blackberry notes on the palate that creates a subtle finish.

Finca Flichman Misterio Cabernet Sauvignon, Argentina – 13.5%

Deep aromas of blackcurrant and pepper on the nose, developing into a spice offering on the palate with red fruits and hints of chocolate.

Finca Flichman Paisaje Tupungato, Argentina – 15%

Lively nose of ripe cherry aromas that are also present on the palate. Long, delicate finish.

McManis Family Vineyards Petite Sirah 2010, California – 14.5%

Bold aromas of cassis on the nose mixes well with sweet hazelnut. Ripe black fruit flavours on the palate that creates a long lingering finish.

A fantastic varied selection, with both the Chateau Genisson Blanc, AOC Cadillac 2003 and Canapi Pinot Grigio 2011 being personal highlights for me. I’ve decided to keep the tasting notes of the two port selections separate, with the full range of both Offley and Sandeman tried and tested. This will be going live in the near future!

All of the above wines are available via the Stevens Garnier website, and the majority that you have read come in at a reasonable price.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.




Rémy Martin Tasting Notes

Remy Martin

Cognac, a brandy from the Cognac region of France, is a category that is heavily stereotyped with an image of rich, successful business types enjoying a hearty measure with a cigar being puffed emphatically. But the thing with stereotypes, and Rémy Martin in particular, is that they’ve accustomed themselves to a Chinese whisper. One consumer hears that the cognac is a fine example of an after-dinner drink, therefore buys a bottle to impress their fellow colleagues and family. One whisper hits ten, which hits twenty and so on. Ultimately it can alienate the original consumer as they now see the category as just an after-dinner drink, a ‘mens only’ mix with a cigar or a £10 measure of what is basically distilled wine.

Rémy Martin have attempted in recent years to bring back that original consumer, and their latest offering, Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish, is winning the nods of approval. Before we look into this new expression, here’s a brief history on Rémy Martin itself.

In 1724, Rémy Martin, a young wine grower, established his company and was approved by King Louis XV in 1738 to plant new vines, despite their being a ban to do so. Just under 100 years later in 1830, the first Rémy Martin was released with the mythical Centaur adoring each bottle from 1870 onwards. In 1910, expansion of Rémy Martin hit the shores of the USA, Russia and China, as did the VSOP expression seventeen years later. After being recognised for superior quality in 1938, they decide to blend 100% of their cognacs from the two hearts of the cognac region – Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne. The XO Excellence was released in 1981 followed by Centaure de Diamont in 2010.

Remy MartinRémy Martin uses a Alambic Charentais pot still (Alambic meaning the shape of the still, and Charentais is the name of the region), and has the mainly Ugni Blanc grape wine distilled twice. It is then aged in Limousin oak barrels for a minimum of two years. All this is overseen by the only woman in the Cognac region who is a cellar master – Pierrette Trichet

As mentioned, Rémy Martin have recently released a new version of their VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) which will replace the original and is made using the same blend of eaux-de-vie and the same period of aging as Rémy Martin VSOP. The new finishing period, in which the eaux-de-vie spends one more year in Limousin mature oak casks that are over 20 years old. Developed by Rémy Martin Cellar Master Pierrette Trichet and Deputy Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau, the new expression is being introduced to cater for changing European palates and to renew the range whilst preserving the high standard and heritage behind the brand. So what does the new expression give? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish – 40%

Subtle aromas of peach and apricot on the nose, with hints of oak warming nicely. A fantastic long and very smooth flavour of vanilla on the palate, with sweet notes kicking in between its silky texture.

And compared to the original?

Rémy Martin VSOP – 40%

Nice hit of fresh red fruit on the nose, with an almost clean aroma of olive oil coming through. Surprisingly thick on the palate, but with some great mixes of vanilla and honey before a slight kick on the throat. A long finish with a warm spice.

But what about the rest of the range?

Rémy Martin Cœur de Cognac – 40%

Released in 2007. Fresh, rich fruit and spice on the nose and creates a very smooth texture on the palate. Sweet flavours of toffee and vanilla with a burst of dry fruit near the end.

Rémy Martin XO Excellence – 40%

Created using 350 different blends. A bold yet dry nose of liquorice, spice and oak, followed by a smooth , well-balanced palate. Flavours of oak and dry spice blend well, creating a lingering warmth.

Unfortunately you can’t get the original VSOP in Europe anymore, but the Mature Cask Finish is a fine replacement, and I think is personally better. Especially when you can create recipes like this –





40ml Rémy Martin Mature Cask Finish VSOP
20ml Cointreau
10ml Lemon Juice


Shake together all ingredients with ice and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


Remy Martin – French Mojito

French Mojito




50ml Rémy Martin Mature Cask Finish VSOP cognac
1 lime cut in wedges
2 spoons of brown sugar
8 mint leaves
Soda Water


In a tall glass lightly muddle the lime with sugar and the mint. Add the cognac, crushed ice and stir with a long spoon. Top with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Of course that doesn’t stop you enjoying Rémy Martin in a snifter glass or over a couple of cubes of ice. Whichever way is your prefered method of tipple, Rémy Martin really showcases the versatility of the cognac and indeed the brandy category itself, and caters not only for the business men of the world, but for the cocktail lovers and the less adventurous palate holders. Even the restaurant world can get in on the act with recipes like thisEnjoy!

Check out the rest of the Rémy Martin photos, taken at The Circle 360, via my Facebook page. You can also see photos from the Rémy Martin tasting at Epernay via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Corks Out Summer Classics Tasting

Last week, Corks Out in Timperley hosted their monthly wine tasting, this time looking at offerings suited for the BBQ summer weather. Hosted by Karim, we were to be delving into Prosecco, three white, a rose and two reds all from various old and new world countries.

So below, I give to you my tasting notes on each –

Le Dolci Colline Prosecco, Italy – 11.5%

Very fresh, light citrus and lively on the nose that follows onto the palate. Slightly dry to begin with, but flows into a creamy texture with a long tingle of peach and grapefruit.

Nostros Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2011, Chile – 13%

Rather intense and aromatic on the nose, with grapefruit dominating. A sharp beginning on the palate, with long flavours of grass and fresh green fruits mixing well. Slightly dry and acidic at the end. Goes well with salmon.

Surani Fiano 2010, Italy – 13.5%

Slow, mellow hints of apple on the nose. Smooth and slightly creamy on the palate, but evolves into a rich and slightly sweet ending that is perfect for creamy pasta dishes.

Corks Out Summer Classics

Casa de Mouraz Branco 2008, Portugal – 13.5%

On the nose there are lots of honey and sherry aromas blending well with a sweetness at the end. A bold offering of apricot on the palate that gives a long and intense ride.

Gayda Rose, France – 12.5%

Intense on the nose with lots of fresh strawberries. A mouth-watering flavour of summer fruits hits the palate that continues into a long, fresh finish.

Chateau de Fleurie 2010, France – 13%

A soft cherry and pepper nose evolves into a sharp hit on the palate, but soon softens. A long finish with a slightly dry end.

Explorer Pinot Noir 2009, Chile – 14%

Lots of cherry, chocolate and raspberry flavours on the nose, with a slight gooseberry aroma creeping in at the end. On the palate, a fresh yet heavy dose of vanilla and plum mix well in this offering that is neither short or long.

A fantastic selection was on offer to us all, with Karim explaining well the origins and back-story of each wine. His hints and tips on food pairings and his insight into the correct temperature to enjoy were well received, with many of the group purchasing bottles there and then! I myself passed on the opportunity, but for the sole reason of saving the pennies for when I attend Corks Out next big extravaganza – The Summer Tasting at the Park Royal in Warrington. There will be around 200 wines, spirits and Champagnes on show, so I’m sure to come away with something good!

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Magellan Gin Tasting Notes

Have you always wondered if gin was practically colourless? Well Magellan gin will give you a surprise.

Using the inspiration of Ferdinand de Magellan in 1519, who circumnavigated the world to explore the ‘spice islands’ and the several barrels of cloves that were brought back, the Magellan gin is hand crafted in small batches using natural exotic botanicals at the Angeac distillery in France. Using the rich wheat grain of Capet from the Beauce valley and the spring water drawn from the Gensac spring in the Cognac region that is naturally filtered through grande champagne limestone, the two are triple-distilled by hand in a copper pot still. Eleven botanicals (cloves, juniper, cinnamon, cassia, coriander, orange peel, liquorice, grains of paradise, cardoman and nutmeg) are sun-dried and added to the head of the still and the spirit is distilled for a fourth time. Once the distillation process is complete, the Magellan gin is infused with natural Iris root and flower which gives the spirit its distinctive blue colour.

So this award-winning (Gold medal in the Super-Premium category at the Gin Master competition 2008) gin looks good, but how does it taste?

Magellan Gin

Magellan Gin – 44%

Very light on the nose with a sweetness being released slowly. Lots of floral flavours of cloves and juniper creates a fantastic longevity with a good burst of freshness but does end with a heavy dryness.

With lots happening if you were to have Magellan on its own, does it create any obstacles in creating a cocktail? Try out some of these recipes and judge for yourself!

Pacific Blue Martini



Ingredients –

60ml Magellan
Splash of Vermouth

Method –

Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel

The Cerulean

Glass –


Ingredients –

75ml Magellan
15ml fresh lemon juice

Method –

Place 4-5 ince cubes into Martini glass. Stir and strain over ice with garnish of lemon twist

If you fancy getting your hands on a bottle, you can purchase one here. And check out the rest of the photos from my photo shoot at The Circle 360 via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Esprit de June Liqueur Tasting Notes

I’ve been lucky enough recently to try out some of the portfolio of Boutique Brands, which includes G’Vine gin, Atlantico rum and Roberto Cavalli vodka. But the most unusual spirit they offer is something named Esprit de June, a liqueur created in France and can consider itself the only liqueur produced with the vine-flowers of Ugni Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and other grape varietals, that blossom for only a few days in June. The added rarity to the ingredients, coupled with what can only be described as a fantastically styled bottled, makes Esprit de June one of the most sought out liqueurs for a bartender.

So how is this liqueur created?

Vine Flowers

The first step is the Vine Flower Harvest. In June, tiny white flowers bloom on the vines for just a couple of days. Their birth is a critical moment after a year-long meticulous care that’s given to the vineyard. These rare flowers are so delicate they can only be picked by hand, and must be harvested immediately.
Hand cut from the vine, the flowers are carefully transported in traditional wooden baskets. The vine flowers are then delicately collected in woven fiber “tea bags”. These “tea bags”, each containing different types of vine flowers, are steeped in artisanal grape neutral spirit for several days to extract their unique flavours.

When all the flavour has been extracted, the grape neutral spirit, now infused with vineflower, is strained off and distilled in a Florentine pot still, the same kind used by master perfume makers. The result is an Esprit, the utmost concentrations of the vine flower. These will be the only vine-flower distillates for a whole year, so they are stored in special vats.

Following an undisclosed recipe, these Ugni-blanc (creates pear, peach and white floral notes), Merlot (wild strawberry and cherry-blossom) and Cabernet-Sauvignon (strawberry, raspberry and violet) vine flower distillates are blended together, before being distilled a final time to perfectly unify their flavours. The use of other vine flowers such as Folle Blanche and Sauvignon Blanc allows the master distiller to guaranty Esprit de June’s flavor profile year after year despite the vintage effect. With the addition of the bare minimum of sugar, Esprit de June is born.

Esprit de June

Esprit de June – 28%

A perfumed mix of rose petals and strawberries with a sweetened edge as it rolls onto the palate. A light, almost non-existent texture, more silky and perfumed is an odd feel, but a long-lasting after-taste that has you craving for more.

Esprit de June is a versatile spirit, with its uniqueness and surprising offering on the nose and palate distinguishing itself away from the usual brands and with the recipes below, it shows that both men and women can enjoy.

June Buck




45ml Scotch whisky or VSOP Cognac
25ml Esprit de June


Pour into an ice-filled glass and top with freshly-opened good-quality ginger ale. Stir briefly.

June & Wine

June & Wine




135ml red wine or chilled, dry white wine
45ml Esprit de June liqueur


First pour the wine (slightly less than a normal serving) then add the Esprit de June. Stir briefly.

Check out my Facebook page for more images of Esprit de June

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Grey Goose


Le logis

If you know me personally, or have followed my journey since the beginning, it’s no secret that one of my favourite vodka brands is Grey Goose. There’s not many brands in the world that I don’t like to be fair, each liquid has its own unique trail, but Grey Goose is one that sticks in my mind as the first premium level vodka I ever had the chance to experience almost 8 years ago. I’ve worked with the brand in nearly every bar or restaurant I managed, and I am more than happy to promote their activities and expressions through my work with Drinks Enthusiast. So you can imagine my delight when I recently had the chance to visit Le Logis, the home of Grey Goose!

Although I’ve already covered Grey Goose on my site before, It’s always good to attack the brand at a different point, as the trip to the Cognac region of France would put a lot of perspective on what I write for your (hopeful) viewing pleasure. So I’ve scrapped my original piece, and replaced it with a more thorough insight into the life of Grey Goose.

Le Logis
Le Logis

Over 100 km away north of Bordeaux, the small commune of Juillac-le-Coq in the Charente department of south-west France now houses the home of Le Logis, a Grey Goose home so-to-speak that is now open to teach the journey of the brand. The Château sits upon a hill overlooking the vineyards and sunflower fields, with baking sunlight touching every part. Perfect atmosphere then for a Grey Goose Le Fizz, a blend of St-Germain elderflower liqueur, freshly squeezed lime juice and soda water, chilled and ready for your arrival. The idea behind a trip like this is to unwind, relax and ultimately soak up the surroundings in the peaceful commune. A couple of hours can fly by with a bicycle ride through the vineyards or exploring the village, returning to the private pool complete with a Grey Goose bar offering a variety of simple Grey Goose creations such as Grey Goose La Poire and tonic.

Fresh food served up by the pool caps the day off, with a selection of canapes followed by lamb chops with thyme, beef bavette with confit shallots, large prawns with garlic, parsley and aniseed alongside marinated and grilled vegetables. A selection of regional cheeses follows, with small desserts including pear and Grey Goose in a chocolate shell, caramel toffee tart and raspberry and green aniseed macaroon amongst others. To finish the evening off, espresso and Grey Goose cocktails amongst company, which for this trip included London lifestyle media as well as drink based journalists.

Ludo Miazga (L) and François Thibault (R)
Ludo Miazga (L) and François Thibault (R)

Waking up to a sun shining view from your window is a sight that will etch in your memory for ever, as will the fresh croissants, pain aux chocs and brioche available in the kitchen quarters for breakfast. An early morning start on the Grey Goose timeline, effectively from grain to bottle, starts with the Grey Goose Maître de Chai François Thibault. François, alongside Global Brand Ambassador Ludo Miazga.  Talking within the Le Logis vineyards, François talks about how he grew up in Cognac where his father was a wine-grower. With such a passion within the family, he trained to be a Maître de Chai (effectively referring to the person in charge of the vinification and aging of wines) from a fairly young age, training in the regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy until receiving the title back in 1992. Since then, he worked for cognac distilleries including H. Mounier before meeting a gentleman named Sidney Frank, an Europe to America liquor importer for which François created the cognac Jacques Cardin along with other cognacs and brandies.

It’s here in 1996 that Sidney Frank approached François about an idea to create a premium vodka.

Once back in the walls of Le Logis, François explains that he took on the recommendations of French pastry chefs, utilising three local farmers in Picardie, northern France for their harvest of soft winter wheat. The harvest is a 9 month cycle, with the longevity in the soil creating a better base ingredient for Grey Goose. After harvesting, the wheat is taken to Saint-Quetin, a town not too far away from the wheat fields, and is stored within silo’s, moistened and rested for a period of 24 hours, humidified to remove and impurities since the harvest and then milled through metal rollers to create flour. Once they have their milled grain, it is added to a metal tank (lauter tun) for fermentation, wherein the starch will break down into sugar. Hot water is added to the flour within these tanks, with cooler water later added to break down the larger molecules, followed by the introduction of a yeast strain. The fermentation process happens over 6 tanks, making sure that all the glucose turns into alcohol.

Distilled 5 times in continuous columns soon after the fermentation process creates a spirit at 96.3% abv. It is then transported to Gensac, south-west France, where Grey Goose have their own purpose-built blending and bottling plant. Just outside the bottling plant, a well can be found which houses ‘pure’ water 40 metres below the limestone ground. To become the perfect water, it is demineralised by reverse osmosis which involves it being pumped through tubes at very high pressure through a ceramic membrane. The membrane stops any of the larger molecules (residue, sedimentation etc) from passing through, therefore leaving only pure water. It is then filtered through charcoal before being blended with the 96.3% abv spirit and bottled.

Grey Goose was launched in 1997 (the UK in 2001) to compete with the expansion of Belvedere in the US, and by 2004, Sidney Frank accepted a rumoured $2.4bn for Grey Goose by Bacardi. Not a bad journey in seven years by François and Sidney!

Of course, no Grey Goose tutorial would be complete without a chance to sample and experience the range –

Grey Goose – 40%

A clean nose with a slight mix sweetness as well as subtle nut and pepper gently arising. A smooth palate with cracked pepper, liquorice and butter with a lingering aniseed flavour. Creates a rounded finish.

Grey Goose L’Orange – 40%

Uses the natural essence of 1 kilogram of fresh oranges per 1 litre of Grey Goose. A deep, rich aroma of ripe orange with lots of freshness on the nose. Very smooth as it hits the palate, with a burst of flavour and a long finish.

Grey Goose Le Citron – 40%

Using the essential oils from the zest and peel of lemons from southern France. Very fresh and zesty with a lemon meringue aroma making its way around the nose. Light and subtle on the palate, with a long mouth-watering finish.

Grey Goose La Poire – 40%

Using fresh maceration of pears harvested 300 km north of Cognac. Strong and sweet combines on the nose with lots of fresh, juicy pear aromas. Short and sweet on the palate, but full of bold flavour when it hits.

Grey Goose Cherry Noir – 40%

Harvested Basque black cherries from a small village in western France. Fresh, deep nose of cherry. Rather floral, with a sweet finish of cherry bakewell. A sweet start on the palate, with sharp hits of the cherry that grows to a light, fragrant and slightly tart finish.

Grey Goose VX
Grey Goose VX

Grey Goose Le Melon – 40%

Uses Cavaillon melons from the south of France. A rich, fresh melon aroma on the nose follows boldly onto the palate. A long, sharp flavour of the ripe melon flavours comes through, creating a soft, dry finish.

Grey Goose VX (Vodka Exceptionelle) – 40%

Launched in July 2014. A blend of 95% Grey Goose and 5% Cognac created from grapes from the Grande Champagne cru that is slightly ageed.
Light on the nose with a distinct cognac fragrance. Soft, white grape and wheat producing a floral honey aroma. Soft on the palate, subtle hints of the cognac coming through, with developing aromas of white fruits blended with wheat. A lingering finish.

One the vodka experience is wound up, lunch on the La Terasse is served, before more hours to wind away before a cocktail masterclass hosted by Ludo Miazga himself.

Housed within Le Logis is a newly refurbished bar, perfect for demonstrating three classic Grey Goose serves –

Grey Goose French Mule
Grey Goose French Mule

Grey Goose French Mule

Glass – 

Copper cup

Ingredients – 

50 ml Grey Goose Le Citron
1/2 Fresh lime
Fever Tree Ginger Beer

Method – 

Squeeze the lime into a copper mule and drop half in. Add good quality ice cubes and pour in both Grey Goose and ginger beer. Garnish with a lime quarter and sliver of ginger.

Grey Goose Dry Martini
Grey Goose Dry Martini

Grey Goose Dry Martini

Glass –


Ingredients –

60 ml Grey Goose
10 ml Noilly Prat Dry
1 Dash of Orange Bitters

Method –

Fill a shaker with ice and add the Noilly Prat. Stir to coat ice and strain out. Add Grey Goose and bitters, if desired, and stir well. Strain into a chilled Martini glass. Present with a lemon twist.

Grey Goose Le Fizz
Grey Goose Le Fizz

Grey Goose Le Fizz

Glass – 

Champagne Flute

Ingredients – 

35 ml Grey Goose
25 ml St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
20 ml Fresh Lime
70 ml Soda Water

Method – 

Hand squeeze lime into a large wine glass. Add al of the ingredients, top with cubed ice and stir.

All three serves can set you up nicely for the last evening meal, a more formal sit down occasion. A starter of gravlax salmon, Saint Moret cream cheese with Grey Goose L’Orange, followed by beef wellington, sauteed chanterelles and confit shallots with baby carrots kicks of proceedings perfectly, accompanied by a choice of red or white wine. Cheese plate served on a piece of cognac barrel, with a finish of a chocolate sphere, roast apple with a pastry cream and Grey Goose vodka capped the evening, and trip off perfectly.

The trip to Le Logis and to discover Grey Goose first hand is a fantastic opportunity which looking back at it, I’m now more confident at delivering Grey Goose showcases when using the brand within my work. To meet someone like François Thibault, who has single-handedly, and still to this day, created Grey Goose and its flavour expressions is a real honour. The energy that Ludo has in presenting the aspects that Grey Goose offer is shows why he is the man to represent the brand all over the world, and to see it in the new home of the Grey Goose experience, Le Logis, the 17th century property restored by the brand since its ownership in 2012, really makes the trip worthwhile.

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny the legacy that Grey Goose has carved out, and with the experience it can now show first-hand, I’m sure it can re-establish, or even convert many a persons thoughts on this French brand.

For more photos of my trip, please visit my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

G’Vine Tasting Notes

G’Vine, handcrafted in France, seems to have redefined the frontiers of the gin category, erasing traditional ideas and changing the perception of this centuries-old spirit. While most of the world’s gin is made from grain spirit, G’Vine Gin is crafted from grape spirit which creates a silky, luxurious feel. France’s Cognac region is the birthplace of G’Vine, using Ugni Blanc grapes which in every September, are harvested and immediately pressed and converted to wine. The result is then distilled in a column still producing a neutral grape spirit over 96.4 % abv. Unlike traditional grain spirit associated with Gin production, the neutral grape spirit is significantly smoother with a heady body.

Once a year, in mid-June, the rare green grape flower blossoms but only exists for just a few days before maturing into a grape berry. This delicate flower is immediately hand picked and carefully macerated in the neutral grape spirit over a period of several days to obtain the best floral essence. The infusion is then distilled in a small Florentine pot still.

As the neutral grape spirit and the green grape flower infusion are nurtured, nine fresh whole-fruit botanicals of juniper berries, ginger root, liquorice, cassia bark, green cardamom, coriander, cubeb berries, nutmeg and lime are macerated over a two to five day process. Small bespoken liquor stills are used to insure the best quality.

In the final step, the green grape flowers infusion, the botanicals distillates and more neutral grape spirit are blended together and undergo a final distillation in a copper pot still affectionately nicknamed “Lily Fleur.”

G’Vine embodies the vine’s life cycle, resulting in G’Vine Floraison and G’Vine Nouaison. The two products represent the evolution of the grape through its various stages, from the blossoming period right through to the harvest. G’Vine Floraison captures the essence of the exhilarating fragrance of the vineyard when the vine flower blooms to life, and the warmth of the arrival of summer. whilst G’Vine Nouaison captures the emotion around the birth of the berry.

So with a unique process of creation compared to your traditional gin brands, lets see what they represent when each G’Vine is sipped –


G’Vine Floraison – 40%

G'Vine Floraison

Winning gold at the International Review of Spirits in 2007 and 2008 and a silver medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. On the nose there’s a clean, crisp scent with a slight sweetness lingering with ginger making an easy appearance as it enters your palate. A fresh floral hit to begin with but mellows out rather quickly with the flavours of juniper and ginger leaving a lasting, slightly dry finish.

G’Vine Nouaison – 43.9%

Winning gold at the Drinks International Gin Challenge in 2008. A cleaner, more forest aroma on the nose which turns into a richer, sweeter, and fruitier flavour on the palate. Hints of citrus and cinnamon create small bursts in your mouth that leaves a rather silky feel that evolves into a fruity after-taste.

If I was to pick between the two, the Nouaison would be my preferred choice, with its richer sweetness on the palate (perfect for sweet tooth drinkers!).

Both G’Vine products are considered premium gins and you can expect to pay around £25-30 retail.

G’Vine has also created its very own Gin Connoisseur Program, and now in its third year, it searches for the most gifted gin-loving bartender in the world. In addition to challenging bartenders with the basics of hands-on cocktail creation, the contest also includes some seriously academic elements that set this competition a world apart from the typical shake-off. Winners of this years programme will receive the title of G’Vine Gin Connoisseur 2012, $3,000, a platinum pin worth 800 €, a trophy, a trip to Tales of the Cocktail 2012 and a trip to Bar Convent Berlin 2012 as well as a year’s supply of G’Vine gin for his or her bar. So no pressure. Enter here.

If your not in the bar trade, or just fancy creating some cocktails, try out some of the recipes below, or better still, ask your local bartender to create. Enjoy!

G’Vine Ruby

G'Vine Ruby

Glass –

Champagne Flute

Ingredients –

45ml G’Vine Nouaison
15ml Cherry cream
15ml Blackcurrant cream
7.5ml Simple syrup
15ml Lemon juice
15ml Pomegranate juice
45ml Brut Champagne

Method –

Pour all ingredients in a mixing glass, except the champagne, then add ice, shake and strain into a flute and top off with Champagne. Garnish with a kumquat floret and orange zest.

G’Literring Fruits

G'literring Fruits

Glass –

Champagne Flute

Ingredients –

60ml G’Vine Floraison
3 Kumquats
2/6 Lime’s
15ml Ginger-elderflower syrup or simple syrup
30ml Brut Champagne

Method –

Muddle the kumquats, lime and syrup then pour G’Vine Floraison. Add ice, shake and double strain into a cocktail glass containing the Champagne. Garnish with a kumquat flower and raspberry in the middle.

To check out some more photos of G’Vine gin, head over to my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.