Brandy finished in casks that have contained Sauternes and also dark Barbados rum, are the two latest additions to St-Rémy’s Cask Finish Collection which is an attempt to court the younger spirits drinker, but also to allow master blender Cécile Roudaut the opportunity to be creative and just a little daring, writes Victor Smart. So how do they taste and what do you pair them with?
“Their greatest appeal will probably be among sought-after younger drinkers but those who are familiar with brandy and just a little purist,” writes Smart.
Cécile Roudaut, master blender at St-Rémy, takes a particular pleasure in her Cask Finish Collection. Each year she places small batches of the firm’s brandy in casks saturated with flavour from maturing a previous toothsome tipple – it could be Oloroso sherry, Islay Scotch, or maybe Chardonnay.
She has just unveiled this year’s offerings, one finished in Sauternes and the other in Barbados dark rum casks. And the results are predictably pleasing.
St-Rémy, which claims to be the number-one French brandy, is bottled in the Loire Valley, though the grapes come from several places in France. It is not to be confused, of course, with Cognac whose appellation rules would prohibit playful infusions with cask flavours.
So what do you get when you infuse brandy with a sweet Bordeaux like Sauternes?
Inevitably, something luscious –St Rémy insists it is its mellowest offering yet. There is honey in abundance, but also cocoa and citrus peel. All suitably accompanied by traditional Canelés de Bordeaux cake.
The second is quite a contrast, vivid flavours and no doubting that the ageing took place in rum barrels. Again there are notes of cocoa, chocolate but also vanilla. Paired with Belgian chocolate laden with desiccated pineapple bits, the flavours erupt.
Both have an AVB of 40% and are retailing for £35 a bottle. The volumes are small, fewer than 8,000 bottles for the Sauternes and even less for the rum. Their greatest appeal will probably be among sought-after younger drinkers but those who are familiar with brandy and just a little purist – Roudaut insists her creations are best served neat, with ice or just a touch of water.