24 drams till Christmas 2016 #23: Delamain Pale & Dry XO Cognac

Delamain Pale & Dry XO CognacDram data:
Brand: Delamain
Distilled: –
Bottled: ca. 2015
Age: XO
Limitation: –
Casks: –
Alcohol: 40%
chill filtered(?) and uncoloured, no additives

Hey, isn’t this supposed to be a whisky series? Well, with whisky prices rising by the hour these days, it certainly can’t hurt to look into #malternatives as well! So there you have it: My first Cognac review, written from a whisky lover’s perspective!

Tasting notes:
 light amber
The nose starts off totally delicious! Seriously! Stunning for 40% ABV! Sweet, thickened, dense grape juice with grape skins mixed with a very well-balanced, hugely fragrant oak note. Flowery too, rose petals and violets (is there such a thing as FWP for Cognac?). Dried, juicy, sweet oranges and mangos, with proper artisanal summer honey, dried herbs and light spices – a bit of cinnamon and a few cloves. Oh, this is lovely, thick, rich, filled with aroma. You can tell there’s some well-aged stock in there and I’m being told Delamain don’t add any additives to their Cognacs. A dram that instantly puts a smile on your face upon nosing. Let’s hope it carries through on the palate!Gentle on the arrival, mellow (the 40% ABV could use 3 or 6% more) yet oily and mouth-coating. Dark honey with grape juice and flower petals. More dry notes on the second sip – dried herbs and French oak influence with a few spices on top. The grape sweetness is very noticeable, but not over the top – this has not been artificially sweetened, which is a positive thing. Well-blended with many interesting layers and a great “aged” base. Very enjoyable indeed. The long finish is mellow upon swallowing, thick and oily with an initially herbal/spicy kick, before the dark sweetness paired with cask dryness balance each other out, just fading away gracefully.

I have been avoiding Cognac for a long time. This has mostly been due to the industry being so stubbornly intransparent (it is to this day). You can add lots of stuff to Cognac (and other spirits) to enhance taste and as a whisky drinker I’m a bit of a purist – I want aromas and flavours to stem from distillate and cask alone, not something added cheaply during the blending process (yes, don’t start a flame war about different casks and finishes – I know, I know). Excuse me for being this ignorant, but always keep in mind – I’m reviewing all #malternatives from a whisky perspective in regards to their suitability as a replacement/companion/mind broadening spirit from/to whisky.
In that regard, this Delamain XO Cognac shines! It is a really good product and apparently free from additives, according to sources on the web (just bloody state so on the bottle or in the marketing blurb, this would make it so much more easy!). A properly aged (20+ years, again, according to this site for example), layered distillate, which is a joy to drink. It could use a bit higher ABV, but I accept that Cognac over 40% ABV is as rare as hen’s teeth – you can’t have it all. If you want to broaden your mind as a whisky drinker – this one comes highly recommended, clocking in at roughly 50-60€. Hey, it’s Christmas, treat yourself!

Score: 87/100
(Nose: 88 Palate: 86 Finish: 87)

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