A top-quality golden Grande Champagne Cognac from distinguished boutique producer Pierre Ferrand. A lively, expressive style with fresh fruit flavours and good depth from this award-winning house.
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Distilled in 2012, this 20 Year Old is the latest release in the Pierre Ferrand range and is non-chill filtered in order to retain all the flavour and character imparted by the Ambre double distillation. Bottled at 43.0% ABV (or 86 proof, if you prefer) and presented in a splendid decanter style bottle, it’s an absolutely gorgeous, beautifully presented and simply elegant piece of work. I was sent a sample by its importers Feel Good Drinks, and would like to thank them for their kindness in providing it.
Pierre Ferrand certainly has a reputation as one of the better independent and boutique Cognac providers on the market, and demonstrates commendable transparency in its range. The company has recently been named “Brands of the Year 2015” at the 2015 International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Cognac Masters, the oldest and most reputed contest of its type. As such, it’s easy to see why Pierre Ferrand has been rewarded.
An extremely well-made, nicely focused and mature Cognac, with a lovely and inviting nose. There’s a lot of depth here, but it’s not a complicated dram by any means. Initially some lovely earthy aromas that are reminiscent of an old book, and then a huge rush of spices that is heady but organic – cinnamon and cardamom leading the charge, with a good dose of ground pepper alongside them. Vanillans develops alongside a good amount of rich, old-fashioned fruit (apricot and banana), with more anise, tarragon, fennel and a distinct note of what I can only describe as ‘smarties’. This pairing of earthy and sweet elements persists as the opening notes become richer along with a growing amount of a damp, musty note which is hardly off-putting at all, rather adding to the richness of the experience. The rich floral notes that build toward the end of the nose have a real depth to them that, along with the fragrant oils, borders on the perfumy. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve mentioned ‘depth’ in a review lately, but there’s a reason for it – it’s something that certainly isn’t in abundance amongst most distilleries these days. It’s a quality that, in my opinion, Pierre Ferrand really knocks out of the park.
On the palate, this is a lively, expressive and very enjoyable Cognac. It’s by no means overly complex (although there are subtle changes in flavour as it’s sipped), but what is there shows good depth and is presented in a very inviting and friendly manner. Initially there’s a burst of fresh and fruity notes that have a mineral-rich quality to them. Pear and peach make a great first impression, backed up with some depth from a solid dose of a sweet, almost syrupy note. Licorice, bitter orange and soft brown sugar push forward next, alongside a beautifully balanced earthiness that involves both damp soil and a musty, dusty but in an organic way (i.e. with no off notes) quality. It’s this earthiness that is a feature on both the nose and palate, and it’s responsible for adding a depth and maturity that elevates the overall profile. Again, there are no aggressive or off-putting notes here, and the changes from one flavour to the next are subtle, and rolled out through a long and vigorous finish.
The finish is where this particular Cognac really shows its class. It’s long and undulating, with plenty of flavour that ebb and flow over the course of the many minutes it runs for. There’s a bitter orange note that is quite pronounced throughout, along with a good amount of the aniseed. It’s a finish full of flavour, but it’s not a ‘hot’ or rough-around-the-edges kind of experience. Everything is well-rounded and smooth, and very pleasant indeed.
I’m really enjoying this Pierre Ferrand Ambre, and the whole experience of it; the nose is intricate and has a lovely depth to it. In common with a lot of the best Cognacs, the lower-proof, non-chill filtered approach really pays dividends to the enjoyment of the flavour. The palate is light and vigorous, the flavour exuding a brightness and freshness throughout. Probably the most enjoyable part of the experience for me, however, is the finish, which shows much of the character that was presented on the more subtle nose, and is very long and fragrant indeed.
This is a real workers’ Hero. Buying the retail price in the UK would cost you a £40.00 minimum, and that’s if you could track it down.