Domaine De Canton Tasting Notes

Domaine de Canton

Liqueurs are a major part of any bars existence, with many flavours used within many a creation or sipped over ice. Orange, hazelnut, coffee, elderflower, they’re all pure, one single flavour in a bottle. But there is a trend, a trend that can be said to have started with the likes of Grand Marnier, blending cognac with oranges from the Caribbean. Domaine De Canton can also say that they’ve gone along the same path, effectively bringing ginger and cognac together alongside ginseng and vanilla. But how do we come to know and ultimately enjoy?

Domaine de Canton can give its birth to an inspiration. The French tradition in which sweet and fresh elixirs were fortified by eaux de vie and cognac gave way to the production of Domaine de Canton, nodding to a time where spicy and aromatic elixirs became popular with the French during the time of colonial Indochine. However, I’d like to point out that there are actually two births to this story –

Under the name ‘The Original Canton Delicate Ginger Liqueur’ the liqueur was produced until 1997 in Doumen, a district of the city of Zhuhai in the Pearl River Delta of China’s southern Guangdong province, near Macau. It was sold in limited quantity in the United States before high-end Asian fusion cuisine became popular. In its original formulation, the liqueur’s ingredients were advertised to include six varieties of ginger, ginseng, ‘gentle herbs’, ‘finest spirits,’ brandy and honey. Its strength was 20% abv and it was sold in decorative glass bottles of various sizes. The product’s stay on the market lasted from 1992 to 1995 and was officially discontinued after 1997.

Ten years later, John Cooper revived the name and idea by producing a new ginger liqueur called Canton Ginger & Cognac Liqueur. Canton Ginger Liqueur followed a new recipe and John decided to produce it in Jarnac, France. The new formula stayed steady in its packaging, housed in the now award-winning bamboo-shaped bottle. Launched in New York City in August 2007, it was a year later that it changed its name once again to what we come to recognise, Domaine de Canton French Ginger Liqueur.

So how is it created, and more importantly, differs from the original?

Ginger from Vietnam is peeled and cut by hand before being macerated with a small-batch blend of herbs and spices in France’s Aquitaine region. It is then married with VSOP and XO Grande Champagne Cognacs, Tahitian vanilla beans, orange blossom honey from Provence and Tunisian ginseng – all natural, fresh and without preservatives or colours.

Sounds like a great combination, but how does it fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Domaine De Canton – 28%

Light and fragrant on the nose with a developing ginger aroma. A thick texture on the palate, with light notes of ginger and a bitterness coming through from the herbs. It mellows quickly, with dashes of the vanilla and honey blending slowly. Short.

Good on its own, but I think even better within a cocktail –

The Gold Rush
The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush

Glass – 

Martini

Ingredients – 

50 ml Domaine de Canton
25 ml Bourbon
12.5 ml Fresh Lemon Juice

Method –

 

Build all ingredients into a mixing glass. Shake vigorously and strain into a Martini glass. Optional cherry garnish.

A great addition to any bar, whether your favourite or your own. It’s different, the bottle looks great and it’s versatile too. Give it a go!

© 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.

 

Hine Tasting Notes

H By Hine

Continuing my theme of cognacs that seems to have taken shape lately, I’ve come across another rather well-known brand by the name of HINE. Dating back to 1550, the Hine family lived in Beaminster, Dorset, on the south coast of England, but it was the 18th century that the cognac link started when Thomas Hine decided to send his son Thomas to France to learn French and the art of making cognac.

Thomas, then aged sixteen, set foot in Nantes in 1791 and then travelled to Bordeaux and eventually Jarnac, a small town just east of Cognac. Since 1763, Jarnac had been the base for the négociant’s premises where Thomas was to create his father’s favourite cognac. In the early days, Thomas began his employment as a personal assistant, a respected and worthy position. Not long after his arrival, Thomas Hine made the acquaintance of Elisabeth, the daughter of a famous cognac négiociant and fell in love. In 1796, at the age of 21, Thomas married Elisabeth and they were to have four children.

Thomas Hine earned a reputation for being a serious, hard worker, but not lacking in a good sense of humour. His in-depth knowledge of finance and business, good commercial sense together with his French and English skills gave him special status. He expanded what was to become the traditional business of the HINE company; making bespoke cognacs for English wine merchants. When his father-in-law died, his mother-in-law chose Thomas, rather than one of her own sons, to take charge of the family cognac business. In 1817, Thomas gave his name to the company: Thomas Hine & Co. Just a few years later, in 1822, he died of pneumonia at the age of 47. His eldest son, Thomas Georges, just old enough to take over the reins of the company was to succeed him and carrying on the generations which today is into its sixth.

Each generation has had some kind of input into the HINE legacy. Isaac Georges Hine registered the HINE stag emblem as their trademark in 1867 and in 1920, Georges Thomas Hine created Antique, the most well-known of HINE’s cognacs. Robert Hine created the first advertising campaign for HINE in 1946 and current generation Bernard Thomas Hine added central Europe to the long, growing list of HINE markets in the 1960’s.

HINE is also rather unique in that its estate benefits from a south-facing aspect. This utilises the long hours of sunshine and heat an also contributes to the maturation.  The cognacs spend six to nine months in new barrels made from fine grain oak which will have given up their bitter tannins while being seasoned for three years in the open air.

So how does this process fair? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on the range I have experienced so far –

Hine HomageH By HINE VSOP – 40%

Light with dry fruit and sweet marzipan on the nose. Very light on the palate with an instant sweetness. Soft, with a mix of fruits and marzipan and a hint of spice.

HINE Homage – 40%

A blend of Early Landed cognacs (a traditional method of maturing cognac – it is exported prior to maturation – thus the name – and is aged in cellars in the UK) as well as very old Cognacs matured in the Hine’s Jarnac cellars. The blend was created on the 23rd October 2000 and selected on the 6th February 2008 and contains cognacs from 1984, 1986 and 1987.
Fresh with ripe fruit on the nose and a slight marzipan aroma near the end. Lots of fruit and wood blends, with a sharp citrus flavour coming through as it develops. Rather short, but packs a punch of freshness that lingers very slightly.

HINE Antique XO Premier Cru – 40%

A blend of cognacs from both the Grande and Petite Champagne regions. Light on the nose with sweet aromas of butterscotch and vanilla coming through. Very smooth and light on the palate with a powerful freshness with a dash of spice to create a long, lingering finish.

A great range so far, and with other expressions such as Rare VSOP and Homage, I can’t see them disappointing. A worthy addition to any night out if you see it in a bar, or indeed your friends drinks cabinet.

© 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.

Courvoisier Tasting Notes

Courvoisier

After experiencing brandy lately, I’ve found a new love for the spirit that many countries seem to be producing these days. It only makes sense then to look at a brand that dominates many a bar, especially in the UK – Courvoisier.

In the uncertain climate of the aftermath of the French Revolution, Emmanuel Courvoisier and Louis Gallois, the mayor of Bercy, decided to open a wine and spirit company on the outskirts of Paris, just north of the river Seine in 1809. 1828 saw Felix Courvoisier and Jules Gallois, the sons of Emmanuel and Louis respectively, taking  a bold change of direction for their business. They wanted more control over the quality of the brandy they had built their reputation on, so moved their headquarters from Paris to the town of Jarnac, in the heart of the Cognac region which is still the home today. When Felix Courvoisier died without a male heir in 1866, he left the management of the business to his two nephews, the Curlier brothers. Soon after, Courvoisier’s reputation continued to grow, with the cognac gracing the tables of the Royal Courts of Denmark, England and Sweden. Napoleon III, the nephew and heir to Napoleon Bonaparte, also personally requested Courvoisier, conferring Courvoisier the much sought-after title of ‘Fournisseur de la Cour Impériale’, or official supplier to the Imperial Court.

The Simon family from England assumed leadership of Courvoisier in 1909. Alfred Simon, who had been the Courvoisier agent in the UK, bought the company, while George Simon went to work in Jarnac in 1912, quickly becoming the assistant to the Director and then Managing Director in 1923. They establishing the recognisable and iconic Napoleon silhouette. A century after Napoleon Bonaparte was at the height of his power, 1910 saw the launch of Napoleon Cognac. This revolutionary move gave birth to a new grade of cognac, ‘Napoleon’, and came complete with the iconic Napoleon silhouette that has adorned every bottle of Courvoisier since.

History was made in 1960 when Courvoisier became the first cognac brand to appear on TV, with the feat repeated in 2009 when it became the first drinks brand to broadcast a 3D advert on terrestrial television.

Courvoisier were honoured with the ‘Prestige de la France’, the highest accolade for quality in France, and remain the only cognac house to hold such an award. Using cognacs from the ancient Paradis vault under the Courvoisier Château, the fifth Master Blender, Jean-Marc Olivier, celebrated the turn of the Millennium by creating a fusion of historic and peerless vintages spanning generations of tradition. L’Esprit contains no cognacs younger than 1930, with many significantly older, from the famous Paradise cellar where there are cognacs dating back to when Napoleon came to power after the French Revolution.

A storied history! But how does it all come about?

All of the Courvoisier cognacs are made exclusively with Ugni Blanc grapes from the Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois crus. Harvesting grapes in October, the wine growers press the grapes and the juice is allowed to naturally ferment over seven days, transforming the grape sugars into wine. Using micro distilling, where the wine growers ferment their wine in small batches before the selection to go forward for distillation. Alambic Charentais copper pot stills are used for the double distillation and are one of the few cognac houses to distil using the ‘lees’, the wine’s yeast residue, a remarkably difficult process that imparts even greater depth and complexity to the cognac.  From the beginning of November, they distil the wine 24 hours a day until the March 31st, the legal deadline for the spirit to be called a cognac. Thereafter it can be nothing more than a brandy.

For cognacs at the start of their ageing, Courvoisier have championed a unique kind of storage, maturing them vertically rather than horizontally. This upright position improves its movement in the cask and its extraction of flavour from the oak. To be legally called cognac, eaux-de-vie must be aged for at least two and a half years. Once matured, casks are blended to create each expression and then bottled.

So how does the range fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes on my experiences so far –

Courvoisier VS – 40%

A blend of cognacs aged for up to eight years. Fresh, light fruit on the nose that carries on over to the palate. Floral flavours and grape, pear scents combine well to create a long finish.

Courvoisier VSOP – 40%

A blend of cognacs up to 10 years old. Light and floral with a hint of wood following on the nose. Well-balanced on the palate with Champagne notes coming through. A long finish that dries a little.

Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif – 40%

Combining spirits from the four best crus in the Cognac region, including a 12yr from the smallest, most exclusive Borderies cru, hence the Exclusif name. Apricot scents on the nose with a slight cinnamon aroma edging in. Slight burst of fruit on the palate with vanilla, caramel and chocolate flavours mixing well to create a lively, long finish.

A great range by the French, with many other varieties available including an XO, 12yr and 21yr as well as limited editions and highly sought after. Worth grabbing a bottle of this classic name.

Check out the rest of the photos, taken at The Circle 360 and Exchange Bar & Grill, 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.