Cognac: Jean-Luc Pasquet

Jean-Luc Pasquet (aka JLP) today, who is, together with Vallein Tercinier, probably my favorite bottler of Cognac. There’s just someting magical about these two companies, be it their blending skills, cask selection or management. It just seems as if whatever they touch turns to gold. Let’s see what we have in our sample box.

Jean-Luc Pasquet Confluences “Le Cognac d’Eraville” Lot 90’s (Grande Champagne, 42,8%): I understand that this is a cuvée from the 1990s. Nose: Very fruity and spice-forward. I’d describe it as a mix of oranges, cinnamon, banana and just a hint of mango and pepper. Then notes slightly akin to candied ginger, citrus, oak and rich bread. Clearly also nutmeg. This is a very rich and faceted nose with more spices than we are used to at this age. Palate: Once again this mix of spices and dry fruits. Banana chips, cinnamon, pepper, oak, Darjeeling, as well as the candied ginger and oranges again are my first and main associations. Later also plums, more cinnamon and chocolate. I wasn’t expecting much (not sure why) but we must say that we were pleasantly surprised. This is a damn fine Cognac. Finish: Long with nuts, oranges, chocolate, a hint of leather and the whole spectrum of spices. I don’t think there’s another spirit catageory where you can still get so much value for money – this is just very good stuff. The Whisky folks would call this a real Malternative and everyone who loves those old Sherry-Whiskies will probably love this just as much. (88/100)

Jean-Luc Pasquet Lot 68-72 “Kirsch Whisky” (Fins Bois, 59,1%): Nose: Wow, what is this!? These old and fruity Cognacs don’t stop to amaze us. The dominant note here is clearly kiwi for me, but we also get apricot, figs, yellow plums, a mix of herbs (thyme!), honey, oak and sweet red grapes. This is really, really nice. Not uber complex, but right up my alley. Palate: Very mild and mellow, yet intense and thick at the same time. This is something that only these old Cognacs can do for us. We still get the kiwi and most of the other fruits, but now clearly also grapefruit and raspberry. Add galia melon to that. Did we already mention that we love these old fruity Cognacs!? Other notes include honey, herbs, oak, candy floss, bergamot and Rooibos tea. Oh dear, this is great. Finish: Not as long as and more bitter than expected. Oak, grapefruit, oranges, kiwi and honey are the most obvious lasting impressions here. Yes, we do love this! (93/100)

Grape of the Art Jean-Luc Pasquet Lot 68-72 (Fins Bois, 66,6%): Our Grape of the Art buddies are at it again and since we’ve just had an outstanding sister cask (I guess) I don’t think anything can go wrong here. Nose: Yup, this stuff is quite similar. We got those same kiwi notes, as well as the stone fruits and once again not all that much wood. It is very light in style, but still sufficiently rich and layered. After a while I can also find gooseberries, grapes, something between floral and grassy notes as well as Crème Brûlée. Those fruits are just a pleasure my friends, especially the combination of kiwi and sweet gooseberries, paired with vanilla pudding and caramel does it for me. Palate: 66,6%, sure, but there’s nothing develish about this. In direct comparison I think that the Kirsch bottling is more approachable, as the higher abv is ever so slightly more challenging without adding that much extra in terms of intensity or complexity. Kiwi and probably even more so grapefruit are still my main associations, but Earl Grey tea (the bergamot I guess), vanilla, oak and that whiff of raspberry towards the finish can be found as well. Finish: Wow, where are all these fruits coming from again all of a sudden? It is basically a mix of those light stone fruits from the nose paired with the kiwi again. I guess this is even my favorite part of the Cognac. While these impressions were clearly present at the palate, they are even more dominant in the finish think. All in all this is essentially as good as the Kirsch bottling, but I prefer the mellow and embracing side of the former a bit more. (92/100)

Malternative Belgium Jean-Luc Pasquet Lot 67 #8 “Le voyageur” (Petite Champagne, 40,6): Like the next one, this is a product distilled by Pierre de Joyet. When he passed away in 2014, his children decided to sell the vineyard and stock of aged Yak, which is how the cask ended up with JLP. Nose: Extremely fruity with apricot, peach, mango, papaya and orange citrus fruits. Let’s add pineapple while we are at it! I think a good descriptor would be mixed fruit jam or a fruit tea – it is really all over the place. Beneath this we can find thick forest honey and not too much oak, which is a very welcome support for those more fragile fruity notes. Palate: Just as fruity, but with more spices than we’ve found in the nose, a fresh mintyness, a relatively high astringency and clearly wood. Unlike with most spirits I’d say that the palate is actually richer than the nose with this one. There’s really not much we are missing here and we can now also find tobacco and the smell of a humidor that has just been opened. Very good! Finish: Long with tobacco and orange blossom honey, oak and cocoa. Alright, alrigt, is there actually a bad JLP bottling!? (89/100)

Jean-Luc Pasquet Lot 62 “Pierre de Joyet” (Petite Champagne, 41,3%): This is part of a series of barrels bought by JLP from a Petite Champagne producer called Pierre de Joyet. I have to admit that I’ve heard fantastic things about this lot! Nose: Totally stunning. We encounter a super complex symbiosis of ripe honey dew melon, nice wood, papaya, honey, sour cherries, tangerines and, frankly, an expanding palate of fruits. This is just lovely and one of those Yaks we could sniff indefinitely. But of course we are just way to curious to find out what it tastes like. Palate: Very mellow, creamy and not thin at all. We get another highly layered experience featuring cherries, melon, strawberry cheesecake, blueberry muffins, subtle wood, raisins, honey, violets and other floral notes and chocolate. This is absolutely incredible stuff. Finish: More fruits in the form of brambleberry, juniper and black currants but also wood, cardamom, vanilla and sweet leather (yes, I just made that up). I wish that it had just 2-3 percentage points more alcohol but we have to live with the result. And we definitely can! We rarely have Yaks like this but this is exactly why we’ve started the hunt! (92/100)

Jean-Luc Pasquet Confluences Lot 49.62.73 (Petite Champagne, 44,3%): A blend that’s almost 50 years old and where some of the components are even older than 75 years!? Crazy! The juice comes from three different vineyards or domaines, by the way. Nose: Rooibos tea with honey, very easy. I doubt many people with have a different first association here. But there’s more, of course. We get mango, tangerine, oak, spices such as cinnamon or real vanilla, some rich sugar and definitely oranges. Very good stuff and once again one for those old Sherry-Whisky-lovers, with old referring to the Whisky, not the lover, but I guess to some extent those two go hand in hand. After a while also a note of crisp, fresh apple. Nice! Palate: Very dry, woody and adstringent. A certain dusty- and mustyness is apparent, with humid moss, wet wood and stale old water. Wow – that’s Rancio galore my friends. With the second sip we can also find the Rooibos again, but nose and palate are really like night and day. In a sense it also reminds me of a bone-dry, almost ashy high quality Bordeaux. There’s absolutely no Rum comparison for this but if so, it would be a bastard of ’70s Demerara and ’90s Saint James/ J.Bally I guess but I am not sure how much sense that makes. Finish: Long, longer, this fella right here. The adstringency is insane. Flavourwise, the spices, as well as those musty and dusty notes from the palate make a reappearance. A Cognac that’s quite different from what we’ve had so far. (91/100)

What stunning session. I know that last time we have had Cognac we’ve said that it is the lesser Armagnac. I guess we will have to rethink that statement! At least if we stick to those handful of high class producers/ bottlers we fell in love with.

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