Ferrand Ambre and 1840 Cognac

By George Brozowski

All cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. You can pretty much make brandy anywhere in the world out of any white grape juice and distill it any which way you fancy and then age it for a while and come up with some kind of decent brandy. Cognac, on the other hand, is strictly regulated, and for a brandy to be called cognac, it has to be made primarily of a very dry, acidic and thin, virtually undrinkable grape called Ugni Blanc and produced under very strict controls and regulations only in a designated wine growing region of France surrounding the town of Cognac.

And believe me, the French take this stuff very seriously. They have cognac SWAT teams that take to legal task anyone other than those in the Appellation d'origine controlee of Cognac calling their brandy cognac. It's rumored they also use stealth drones to decimate rogue distilleries outside of France. If you don't believe me, look it up in your Funk and Wagnall's.

Pierre Ferrand cognac is made in the heart of the Cognac region using only grapes grown in the premier Grande Champagne region. They started doing this right about the same time that America became a country. They use only small hammered copper alembic stills and do a double distillation and then age their spirits in French Limousin oak barrels.

SPOILER ALERT: I have been drinking and enjoying Ferrand cognac for decades, and it is a staple in my collection. They currently produce 11 cognacs ranging in price from around $40.00 per bottle to over $2,000.00. I have tasted many of them over the years and have enjoyed each one. I am still waiting for someone to pour me a snifter from that Collection Privee 1914 bottle but that's probably an experience I will just have to add to my bucket list.

Okay, let's get to the best part of this job. First up is the Pierre Ferrand 1840 three star cognac. You may have noticed that Ferrand does not use the traditional VS (2 year old) and VSOP (4 year old) age designations on their bottles, that's because even their youngest cognacs exceed those minimum age ranges. This cognac is a very pale golden color, almost like a weak tea. The nose is a delicate yet crisp balance of citrus, pears, oak and caramel. On the palate, the presence is far stronger than it was in the nose and is a mélange of citrus, vanilla, oak, tobacco and caramel. The finish leaves a tasty spicy honey flavor that lasts a medium amount of time. This is a fine little sipper but not as complex or deep as their more aged cognacs. This particular 1840 cognac would make a great mixer, as it would not lose its flavor profile when tossed in with other ingredients.

Next up is the Pierre Ferrand Ambre, with the youngest of its cognacs in its blend at least 10 years old. The color is again a pale golden honey but just a bit darker than the 1840. The nose is more full and deeper and thicker than the 1840 with hints of vanilla bean, flowers, apricot and oak. The palate is warm, sensual, fruity, sweet, and oaky, with a hint of pear and cinnamon. The finish is warm and honey sweet and lasts a while. This cognac has more depth and fullness than the 1840 making it that much more interesting and flavorful. This one could definitely be enjoyed by itself and definitely would not get lost in a mixed drink.

Both of these cognacs are a wonderful introduction to the Pierre Ferrand line of cognacs. And since they are both around $40.00 per bottle, they make a very affordable introduction.

Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula can be bought on sale at most fine liquor stores for around $40.00 per 750ml bottle, while the Pierre Ferrand Ambre can be found for $41.99 per 750ml bottle.

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