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Malternative Belgium

Malternative Belgium


Malternative Belgium Cognac No. 29 Vallein Tercinier


Malternative Belgium Cognac No. 29 Vallein Tercinier

Limited stock

$ 631
excl. TAX excl. shipping
Growth area
Bons Bois
Bottle size
Limited editions
Tasting review
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Nose: An explosion of fruity aromas with ripe peaches and juicy apricots, complemented by sweet citrus notes of mandarin and grapefruit. A subtle mineral essence evokes wet chalky earth.

Palate: Velvety warmth, showcasing a lush complexity. Flavors of juicy apricots, prunes, and dates dominate, with a spicy undercurrent of cinnamon and nutmeg. Roasted almonds and hazelnuts add a pleasant nuance.

Finish: A long and satisfying finish where fruity and nutty notes blend harmoniously. A delicate hint of mineral terroir and rancio leaves a refreshing and vibrant aftertaste.

Product description
Malternative Belgium Cognac No. 29 Vallein Tercinier Embark on a sensory journey with Malternative Belgium Cognac No. 29 Vallein Tercinier "Arôme Exquis" (Lot 55 BB), a limited-edition release matured for 55 years in Limousin oak casks. Originating from Chermignac's esteemed Bons Bois appellation, this exquisite Cognac captures the essence of the unique vineyard plot "La Champagne," renowned for its soil's remarkable similarity to that of the Petite Champagne appellation. The result is a Cogna...

Read more about Malternative Belgium Cognac No. 29 Vallein Tercinier

Ysatis and Pieter - the couple behind Malternative Belgium

Meet the Man Behind Malternative Belgium

“Malternative” is the coined brand name implying there’s more to the spirits world than Malt Whisky. And we couldn’t agree more. But, while we may be biased here at Cognac Expert, as in our world, Cognac will always hold a special place in our hearts. Nevertheless, we’re always interested in meeting with independent producers, bottlers and negotiators to discover new products, practices and points of view regarding the spirits world – both inside and outside of Cognac.

So, who better to sit down and chat with than Pieter Knapen? The friendly face behind Malternative Belgium – Pieter has been working in the spirits world for over fifteen years. Having started with a passion for single malt whisky, he’s had the chance to build up an impressive tasting palate over the years and has subsequently been able to discover other spirits, food and drink delights.

From older qualities to limited quantities, Malternative Belgium is passionate about Cognac and its rarities, in particular. With 3 years under his belt working as an independent bottler already and 10 years of regular visiting and exploration of the beautiful Cognac region itself, we couldn’t wait to pick Pieter’s brain, who kindly sat down with us to share a glimpse into his experiences, opinions and exciting new launches coming up this year. So without further ado, discover our deep dive with Malternative Belgium below.

The Cognac Vs Malt Whisky debate

The first question we had for Pieter came easily to us. As a man who had left the world of whisky in search of “malternatives”, it made sense that we’d be curious to know why he now chooses to devote his work to the exploration of Cognac.

With a background in whisky, and as a true whisky lover and connoisseur, what are the reasons you think Cognac is the better product?

I love to discover new things, so it was a natural progression for me. Why is Cognac a malternative over other spirits such as rum, for example? Well, that would be because of its full flavor profile, I love that Cognacs can be smooth, fruity and woody, there is something for all tastes. Yes, other spirits may be easier to work with than Cognac, but that’s part of it too, I’m motivated by a challenge, and I find Cognac is so much more exciting to discover because of the personal approach it comes with.

Are there any parallels between independent bottlers of scotch whisky and independent bottlers, like Malternative, for Cognac?

Yes, there are parallels. Most bottlers are looking for something that is unique and unusual. For example, you try to discover crus that are unknown hidden gems. So no matter if it’s a rum, whisky or Cognac as a bottler, you make a selection by digging into the niche market. Quality and personality are always favored over quantity.

Becoming an independent bottler

With the role of an independent bottler in mind, we were keen to ask Pieter about his work with Malternative and the journey he’s taken to get where he is with the brand today.

How would you describe Malternative Belgium to someone who is just entering the Cognac scene?

It’s personal. It stands for the discovery of flavors, being able to foresee what direction it can go, and as I mentioned earlier, identifying whether or not the quality is truly one-of-a-kind. I really believe education about spirits is important, so for me, Malternative represents the idea of not seeing Cognac as part of the drinking culture, but instead – as a value added to daily life.

After working in importing, Pieter was able to learn a thing or two about consumers, products and the market throughout his career. So, with the acquired know-how to set up his own independent bottling business, Malternative initially started as a professional hobby, where Pieter found the freedom to make his own decisions. Naturally, this professional hobby has now become a full-time commitment and an ongoing passion – and one that certainly doesn’t come without its professional challenges.

What are your biggest challenges as an independent bottler?

Of course, there are logistics and taxes to consider. A lot goes into it; it’s investing a lot of time to build a good relationship with potential partners. It involves a lot of patience and taking things step by step – and quite often, it comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Working with different producers means you most often have to start from scratch with every new bottling. Also, in my case, the distance between France and Belgium can be challenging, as the work entails lots of travelling to Charente.

With every successful challenge complete comes a reward. We particularly appreciated what motivates Pieter the most when it comes to his work:

For me, the true highlight of being an independent bottler, is the intense moments when people come to my place, and I’m able to offer them an exceptional Cognac, which in turn usually receives great feedback. It’s giving people an experience and great moments in life that fulfills me most.

Visits to Charente

A region renowned for its beautiful landscapes, rural villages and charming sense of community, we know very well why Pieter fell in love with Charente upon his first visits to Cognac all those years ago. And despite the constant travel back and forth between France and Belgium, after speaking in closer detail about his work in Charente – we can see exactly why he decided to convert his passion into his livelihood, as indeed, it demands his full-time attention.

Upon every trip to Charente, Pieter must schedule appointments to visit new Cognac houses and dedicate time to existing acquaintances in order to strengthen relationships. While much of the business trips are planned ahead, he divulges that he also puts aside a period of free time for spontaneous exploring and visits.

Most often, the greatest discoveries are found unannounced and actually when I’ve just shown up at a producer's place out of curiosity. Most are welcome and are open to showing me their Cognacs. I love driving around Charente searching for hidden places, signs and potential cellars waiting to be discovered.

Pieter's top restaurant pick in Charente:

Address: La Ribaudière in Bourg-Charente (1 star Michelin restaurant in the region) - Located just a stone’s throw away from Jarnac, it has an incredible Cognac bar, offering delectable Cognac food pairings.

The Power of Connection

Developing and maintaining existing relationships is arguably the most important part of being an independent bottler, and Pieter can vouch for this:

I only select Cognac that I first of all like personally, but also where I feel a connection to the producer, their Cognac house and its style. I find small producers from driving around, talking with people…attending festivals and even on social media.

Not only does Pieter (and other independent bottlers) have to convince producers to want to work with him effectively, but a deal must be secured for the independent producer to bottle an exclusive edition just for Malternative. Sounds like a task, right? So how does he do it?

The hardest part is getting people to see what I see. I have to help them understand why one particular, old-quality Cognac deserves its chance to be bottled and then sold…by me. It’s, in turn, a collaboration where I have to be trusted with the role of a brand ambassador. It’s much more than just bottling the bottle. So the personal connection with the producer is a given, alongside honesty, transparency and having an all-around good feeling about everything.

Selecting Cognacs

The criteria for selecting a Cognac varies between independent bottlers, each with their own preferences and tastes. We’ve learned already that for Pieter, it’s all about quality and rarity. But as keen connoisseurs here at Cognac Expert, we wanted to know the specifics. Pieter breaks it down for us.

What’s important for you when selecting a Cognac?

Well, first of all, the Cognac has to bring a spontaneous smile to my face and instant happiness. Meanwhile, I’m looking for quality, cask strength, pure, natural form and natural aging.

Is there a specific taste profile you are looking for?

Balance is the main thing: I like to taste what I get on the nose, as that’s where the journey begins. A round and well-integrated Cognac presents the two in harmony.

In other words, if you are tasting a handful of samples, what makes you say “Yes! That’s the one we need.”?

Authenticity, good representation of the cru, it is a Cognac that is well balanced and well presented.

When looking at the previous releases, we notice lots of very old Cognacs. Is this a rule or just a coincidence based on the best samples you’ve found?

Age is a measurement that gives complexity, but this does not necessarily mean the older, the better. For example, I’ve tasted old Cognacs that were completely destroyed after having aged too long.

Selecting Pineau

Though Cognac is Malternative’s usual focus, after spending so much time in Charente, we’re not surprised that Pieter also chooses to dedicate some of his time to Pineau des Charentes – as, like with Cognac, it is nearly impossible to visit the region without coming into contact with the wonders of Pineau.

We’re pleased to see you’re also venturing into the world of Pineau des Charentes…what is fascinating to you about Pineau?

I’ve always liked good wines – sherry and port. And I’ve been lucky enough to have tasted some amazing stuff. Therefore, I wanted to delve further. While I often find that Pineau is too sugary for my personal tastes, once in a while, I discover more complex Pineaus with natural sugars that are rich and well-developed.

Belgium's older generations were once the biggest exporters of Pineau des Charentes. Today, the younger generation is keen to reintroduce it again.

Since it comes from the same region as Cognac, carries the same passion, and is a high-value product for the money. It just makes sense, really.

For someone who has never tried a Pineau, what would you say to them to encourage them to give one a try?

It is based on passion and is a total niche from Cognac. Honestly, more people should know about it. It presents so many possibilities and is easily drinkable…chilled…with friends… in cocktails. It features the same flavors and cask involvement as Cognac, only it is easier to drink, can be consumed in different ways, and it usually comes at a lower price point too. What’s not to like?

Designing the Malternative Belgium labels

Once the eau-de-vie has been selected, it’s onto the bottling process and label design. But how much involvement exactly does Pieter have in this? A jack of all trades, we were pleasantly surprised to hear that he, too, is responsible for working alongside the label artists collaborating with Malternative.

Much of the creative imagination comes from me, and then I work with artists who personalize labels. I’ll often approach someone with a great painting. For me, the label should highlight Cognac. So rather than simply using the label to create a marketing story aimed at selling Cognac, I aim to display what is inside and offer transparency.

What is your inspiration for such designs?

Every label tells a story or relation to the product. It can originate from something that I saw at the property, related to the estate, or to the Cognac. From animals to food offerings in Charente…it can be anything.

Finally, we like to round things up with a couple of “just for fun” questions: So…you are stuck on a desert island and can only have one Cognac (and glass, of course) and one book. What do you bring?

That’s so hard because I have many different Cognac crushes, but Laurichesse Cognacs have truly unique profiles, so I’d have to choose this brand. And I’d take a copy of Lights out in Wonderland by DBC Pierre.

If you could invite 3 people to dinner, dead or alive, who would you invite?

That’s easy, it could only be my wife and godchild.

More Bottlings: Malternative Belgium

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