Review: Remy Martin VSOP Cognac
There is something altogether old-fashioned about Cognac. Growing up, the seeds of my sterotypical assessment were sown when I observed that it was the libation of choice of the elder members of my family. The younger generation would by contrast usually be found sipping on a beer or a glass of wine. As my drinking horizons have broadened, Cognac has never done particularly well in keeping pace, and the fact that it continues to be an uncommonly listed spirit on the cocktail lists of my favourite bars has kept it largely off my cocktail radar.
Despite the relative obscurity that Cognac has played in my cocktail imbibing, there has been one brand that has attracted my attention more frequently than any other. From the fact that it seems to be an essential stock item for every pub in the land, to the recent use of the XO and Louis XIII expressions in the ‘Fleur de Lis’ cocktail in Claridges, Remy Martin is nothing if not widespread. The brand do however seem to be embracing cocktail ‘culture’ with increasing vigour, something that will no doubt help to find new markets for this fine spirit category.
Neat: The slightly flat nose continues on the palate. By no means is this a bad cognac, it just doesn’t seem to want to open up and release its flavours. Off sweet initially but drying soon after and a little plasticky with a touch of leather about it. Fruity notes are little more muted and err towards dried fig and apricot rather than the citrus evident on the nose. A few rough edges mean it won’t make my ‘to sip’ list but offer promise for mixing.
The underwhelming performance on the neat tasting is largely redeemed when mixed, where it proves to be flexible, tasty, and easy-drinking. It works well with a range of ingredients and in different drink styles, being particularly amiable to the addition of strong flavours such as bitters which help bring some complexity to mix. Its fruity notes often dominate the taste profile, but this make for an approachable and light-tasting cocktail on most occasions. Even relatively challenging-tasting drinks such as the Sazerac are tamed with Remy Martin VSOP, and will prove enjoyable for most. However, it is at its best in sweeter drinks which showcare the fruity elements of the taste profile. Classics such as the Vieux Carre also work well with the herbal elements complementing the VSOP nicely. Sour drinks such as a Sidecar are less successful, but still respectable. This is not a spirit to get hardenedspirit enthusiasts all excited about, but its wide availability and competitive price point make it a respectable everyday mixing cognac that certainly deserves wider recognition.
Signature Cocktail – Remy Martin Fresh Ginger and Ice
40ml Remy Martin VSOP, sliced ginger, 3 dash Angosture bitters, 10ml sugar syrup
Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass. Rum rim of glass with fresh sliced ginger and use as garnish.
Remy Martin VSOP is a great entry-level cognac that proves to be a versatile mixer in cocktails. Its fruity and easy-drinking nature at a competitive price-point and wide availability make it a good choice for the home bar.
Remy Martin VSOP is available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.