What happened at Cognac Expert in 2021?
Thank you to our Cognac Expert community, you have made this past year the success it was and we look forward to tasting our way into 2022 with you.
Numbers & Data
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Cognac Expert Blog
The Cognac Expert Blog has been running since the inception of Cognac Expert itself and through it, we have always aimed to provide informative yet relatable commentary on the wide world of Cognac. In 2021, we strived to refine our eaux-de-vie content in order to deliver in-depth and engaging articles that would provide answers and insight into Cognac questions that cannot be found elsewhere. Throughout the past year, Cognac Expert has searched for topics that expand our understanding of eaux-de-vie and challenge the palate by which we taste it. Not only have we extensively reviewed some unusual and outstanding Cognacs, but we have also considered Cognac tasting from a variety of fresh perspectives, such as that of a whisky connoisseur, a coffee aficionado, and a software engineer.
Joe Binney has analyzed our Cognac Calendar
Early on in 2021, we reached out to Joe Binney, a prolific poster on our Cognac Lovers Facebook group. Joe, a self-confessed Cognac nerd, purchased our 2020 Cognac Advent Calendar and provided a comprehensive analysis of the 24 bottles of eaux-de-vie found within. Joe is a numbers man with a background in software engineering and he had compiled a detailed mathematical breakdown of his personal ratings that correlated with either age or price. Cognac Expert decided to dedicate a blog to examining Joe’s tasting process, rating justification, and end results. The blog is a fascinating example of how anyone can experiment with Cognac tasting and devise their own approach to ratings in order to better understand their own palate and preferences.
You may be surprised to know that one of our top blogs from 2021 was an investigation into the Cognac ratings of the popular whisky reviewer, Serge Valentin. Serge is a leading authority in the world of spirits and he is particularly influential within the whisky industry. Serge shares his straight-talking views on spirits on his long-running blog and provides a score out of 100. For this blog, we thought it would be interesting to examine Serge’s ratings of a range of Cognacs in order to decipher what characteristics influenced his opinion and what kind of Cognacs appeal to a whisky connoisseur.
Serge Valentin's Ratings on Cognacs
The art and science of Cognac and Coffee
One of our more recent blogs was created in partnership with the innovative espresso machine brand, La Marzocco. La Marzocco is a company devoted to its skill and industry and this dedication is a characteristic that Cognac Expert can both relate to and respect. This mutual enthusiasm for our crafts inspired us to explore the similarities between the production of Cognac and coffee. This blog takes us on an in-depth journey through the whole production process of both products, we consider how the different qualities of each compare, before concluding with how both Cognac and coffee can be enjoyed, either separately or combined.
Cognac Tastings and Ratings
In 2021 we have tasted and rated a lot of Cognacs, sipping our way through an eclectic variety of eaux-de-vie to provide you with detailed insight into their aromas and flavors, thereby hopefully helping to guide you on the selection of your next bottle. Some reviews we particularly recommend are:
At Cognac Expert we want to remain unmatched in the variety and quality of the products that we offer on our shop and to achieve this we are constantly on the lookout for new eaux-de-vie treats to introduce to the community. 2021 has brought a wealth of new products to Cognac Expert, both from the producers you already know and love, and also exciting offerings dreamt up by our very own team and customers. For those of you who have been following Cognac Expert for a while, you will find some enticing additions to existing product lines and this year even saw us launch our most innovative product to date, our first-ever crowd-funded and community-created Cognac.
Cognac Expert introduced the L’ESSENTIEL series in 2020, with the vision of collaborating with artisanal, lesser-known producers in the region to craft exquisite bottles of Cognac that we could then share with the Cognac Expert community. Each limited edition release gives customers a new insight into the eclectic mix of aromas and flavors that can be found in the region. L’ESSENTIEL invites you to ralentir, réfléchir, réunir: slow down, reflect and reconnect with our loved ones - it’s time to appreciate right now because that’s all we’ve got, something that this year we can appreciate more than ever.
In 2021, we launched two new stunning L’ESSENTIEL products. The first bottle of the year was from the Leyrat family and was crafted from Fins Bois eaux-de-vie, some of which had been aged for over 50 years. The end result was a 42.5% overproof Cognac that presented aromas of spices, peppers, citrus, and sweet honey. Only 100 bottles of Leyrat's L’ESSENTIEL were produced, so count yourself lucky if you managed to get a taste of this delicious brandy.
The second bottle of 2021 was produced in collaboration with the long-established house of Bache Gabrielsen. It was created from solely eaux-de-vie from the Borderies region in 1994 and masterfully blended by the house’s Maitre de Chai, Jean Philippe Bergier. This spectacular Cognac possessed both fruity and floral aromas typical of the Borderies region and had an ABV of 44%.
You will be delighted to learn that our next L’ESSENTIEL edition will be released imminently and was crafted by a renowned family-run house that has a history in the region stretching back to the early-nineteenth century. This brand is recognized for the restricted amount of Cognacs it produces each year, so we know this bottle will be particularly special, keep your eyes peeled!
Cognac Expert Calendar
2021 saw the release of our third annual Cognac Calendar, featuring 24 delectable Cognac samples to count down your December in style. After the successful launch of our calendar in 2019 and the amazing feedback we received, we endeavored to keep improving our festive offering year on year and we are pleased to say 2021 was our best one yet. Not only was every Cognac taster above XO quality, and selected from a variety of fantastic artisanal houses, but we also accompanied each one with an informative mini-podcast that revealed the ins and outs of the production process.
Our dedicated Cognac connoisseurs are just about coming to the end of their calendars for this year, but we have no doubt some of them will be providing detailed reviews of their favorites on our Cognac Lovers Facebook group so keep an eye out for their feedback. If you’re interested in learning more about the creation of and work that went into each year’s calendar then you can read all about it on our Tale of 3 Cognac Calendars Blog and we guarantee by the end of it you’ll be gagging to get your hands on next years.
Our first-ever crowdfunded Cognac
YOU, the community voted:
✓ Grande Champagne
✓ 43% ABV
✓ 70cl Bottle
✓ Fruity & Woody
Perhaps the most exciting of our 2021 ventures was Imaginé, a Cognac created by the Cognac Expert community. Every aspect of the production was voted on by our customers, including the growth area, taste, alcohol volume, price, name, design and you even directed the trailer; the end result was a truly unique and collaborative bottle of eaux-de-vie.
Our first ever crowd-funded Cognac was produced by world-renowned artisans Prunier, who dedicated themselves to crafting the eaux-de-vie to the precise specifications voted for by our community. You chose a Grande Champagne blend of 43% ABV, that presented both fruity and woody aromas, and the name you selected for this one-of-a-kind Cognac, was Imaginé. Bottles were produced on a pre-sale basis, meaning once the edition was finished, it would be gone forever. In the end, 181 bottles were made, along with a dramatic trailer to conclude the exciting experiment and we were delighted with the results.
Although Cognac is our one true love, we do also feature a few of France’s other incredible spirits on our shop and in 2021 we branched out even further with the introduction of Calvados. Calvados is yet another type of Brandy, (isn’t Brandy just the gift that keeps on giving?) however rather than being crafted from grapes, Calvados originates from apples and sometimes pears grown in the Normandy region of France. Much the same as Cognac there are multiple rules and regulations that producers must abide by in order to classify their apple brandy as Calvados. You can discover all about this and how this delicious spirit is produced on our detailed, ‘What is Calvados?’ page, and you can also browse our exquisite selection to give it a try yourself - we would love to hear what you think.
Private Seller Items
We have featured Cognacs from private sellers on Cognac Expert for quite some time now and in 2021 there were plenty of new additions available to purchase. If you happen to have a bottle of eaux-de-vie that you are interested in selling then we are happy to provide a free appraisal or if you are someone who loves discovering rare Cognac treasures, head over to our private seller page to see what you can find.
Our Cognac Specials
We’re not the only ones who’ve been hard at work in 2021, a number of our favorite producers have also been busy crafting exceptionally special offerings and in honor of this we showcased some of these brands and the incredible work they’ve been doing on Cognac Expert.
Interview with Jacky Navarre
Jacky Navarre is the mysterious man behind the iconic house of Navarre, a brand that every Cognac devotee is familiar with. It is Jacky who has taken the brand from merchant supplier to the esteemed independent producer it is today and we were eager to speak to the man himself to find out a little more about his house’s journey.
Discover how this elusive gentleman came to distill Cognac, the method behind his production and what Jacky has to say about each of the products that he personally crafts from start to finish
Laurichesse and a secret barrel
The relatively new house of Laurichesse released their first collection in 2021 and Cognac Expert was honored to speak with them about the motivation behind the brand and how they came to discover the eaux-de-vie that would be bottled for their opening release.
The story is a romantic one involving the discovery of a secret collection of Cognac distilled by the founder’s father in the 1970s that had been lying in wait at the bottom of the garden for over 40 years.
Podcast with Guilhem Grosperrin
We were overjoyed to release our highly anticipated second podcast with Guilhem Grosperrin recently. Guilhem’s father established Grosperrin in 1999 and since 2004 Guilhem has been at the helm, during which time he has been instrumental in enhancing the eaux-de-vie collection of the house and expanding its network and customer base to far beyond just France.
In Guilhem’s interview with Max, he takes a deep dive into how the business has transformed into what it is today and the steps that it took to get there.
Pasquet's Limited Editions
We recently featured Pasquet’s final two releases for 2021, one of which was the closing chapter to their spectacular L’Esprit de Famille range and the other the opening Cognac to their new Trésors de Famille range.
Both Cognacs are single cask and sourced from exceptionally talented families who meticulously harvested, distilled and aged their eau-de-vie. You can find out more about the stories behind each Cognac and the incredible passion and skill that went into crafting them here.
How our community interacts with Cognac Expert is so important to us and we believe that our platform should encourage our customers to share their thoughts and opinions on eaux-de-vie and also to learn from each other’s palates. That is why in 2021 we redesigned our review platform to provide a much more in-depth and precise rating when you come to share your feedback.
Our review tool calculates a score out of 100 using your ratings according to a variety of 19 factors that come under the categories of nose, mouth, taste, finish and overall impression. On top of that reviewers are also asked to provide feedback on the value for money and the presentation of the bottle, as well as ranking the woodiness, spiciness, fruitiness and floralness of the eaux-de-vie. You’ll almost be able to taste the Cognac yourselves after having read these detailed reviews.
Taking into account all the reviews we receive we then collate these to provide you with our review overview page which features both our best rated and most reviewed Cognacs on our website.
Best Rated Cognacs
Minimum 5 Reviews
2021 has been a monumental year for us here at Cognac Expert and we introduced so many new features to our offering of which we are extremely proud. The first achievement to mention would be our Cognac Expert Magazine, released to mark the 10 year anniversary of the company. The magazine contained 68 pages of editorial content covering all things Cognac and we are excited to begin working on our second edition.
As previously mentioned, we launched our third annual Cognac Calendar and 2021’s was our best yet, packed with the highest quality eaux-de-vie so far and accompanied by fascinating mini-podcasts with the producers themselves filling you in on the secrets of the region. Cognac Expert also started a podcast of our own, each episode features a different producer as a guest to take a deep dive into the world of Cognac with us and to share the expertise and flair that got them to where they are today. Our first episode was with expert producer, Francois Giboin, who is both the cellar master and head of the house and our most recent episode is with Guilhem Grosperrin the second-generation head of Grosperrin Cognac.
We expanded the educational element of our Cognac Expert website this year so that you can now discover all there is to know about eaux-de-vie and the region from which it comes. Ever wondered
Well look no further, head to our in-depth pages to find out all you need to know and more.
Cognac Expert is a great place to not only learn from our team but also from the amazing community which we have built and you can do this by exploring our Cognac Review tool which we recently upgraded to provide a detailed analysis of customers’ tastings and a summary of the most popular bottles available on the shop. You could also join our dedicated Cognac Lovers Facebook group that has grown by more than 1,000 members this year and is a wonderful resource for discussing eaux-de-vie with connoisseurs far and wide, and there are even a number of producers who are members themselves.
Finally, we were delighted to open our second office in Hamburg, Germany in 2021 and we now have a number of the Cognac Expert team under one roof which has been a wonderful experience for all!
So there you have it, Cognac Expert’s 2021 summed up, its been a busy but rewarding year and we can’t wait to see what 2022 brings!