GSN Review: Guillon-Painturaud Cognac

166-large_defaultThe Grande Champagne region of France is well-known for producing the best Champagnes and Cognacs in the world.  What is surprising then, is that one of the smallest distilleries in the region has been continually operating for over 400 years by the same family.  Guillon-Painturaud is located on the same extremely small 18 hectare estate (less than half an acre) from when it was purchased in 1610.  Today, the company is overseen by Line Guillon-Painturaud, one of the few female master distillers in Cognac.

Using classic Ugni Blanc grapes, Line does a double distillation in a copper pot still, then ages the eau-de-vie in Limousin and Troncais oak casks.  The VSOP is aged for an average of 15 years, while the Hors D’Age rests for an average of 30 years.

Guillon-Painturaud VSOP (80 proof)
Visual: Sunny golden-yellow.
Nose: Green apple, milk caramel creme, pineapple, mango and kiwifruit.  There’s also a distinct scent of cheese danish.
Taste: Immensely smooth with a wood-tannin forward flavor.  It mellows out into caramel and baked apple quickly.
Finish: Fairly long with a slight bitter edge that creeps in towards the end.
Overall: Hearty, rustic and perfect for mixing into a cocktail like a French 75 or a Sidecar when you want to showcase the base spirit.
GSN Rating: B+

Guillon-Painturaud Hors D’Age (80 proof)
Visual: Hot golden-yellow.
Nose: A ton of vanilla on the nose with some almond notes.
Taste: Rich, thick mouthfeel with a lot of compact and vibrant character.  Quite tasty and chewy.  It almost seems as if it’s been cooked for a few minutes to make a reduction.  The intensity of the spirit is wide and open with a hearty amount of vanilla and caramel.
Finish: Medium long with a lingering sweetness and satisfying touch of glazed nuts.
Overall: Quite different from the VSOP, the Hors D’Age is definitely a winner.  Perfect for enjoying neat or with a small lemon twist.
GSN Rating: A

For more information go to: Cognac Guillon-Painturaud

GSN Review: Boulard Calvados Pays d’Auge VSOP

273800__boulard_calvados_vsop_1l_Founded in 1825, the house of Pierre-Auguste Boulard has been making calvados for generations.  What’s Calvados, you say?  In layman’s terms, it is an apple brandy.  Grown in the Normandy region of France, the apples are fermented, distilled and aged in oak for several years.  Some of the oldest Calvados can be as exquisite as an XO Cognac. Calvados Boulard VSOP is aged from 4 to 10 years old.

Boulard Calvados Pays d’Auge VSOP (80 proof)
Visual: Vibrant copper with many particulates.
Nose: Cinnamon apple with a heady dose of vanilla pod.
Taste: Exceptionally smooth and tasty.  Slightly sweet with a lot of fresh apple character, the barrel aging runs the gamut from dry spice to luscious oaky vanilla.  Very well-balanced.
Finish: Loads of apple with a spicy cinnamon take.  A great after dinner brandy that will leave a smile on your face.
Overall: The aging is just right for this to make an excellent sipper as well as a mixer.  The apple shines through and gives this particular calvados the respect it deserves.
GSN Rating: B+

For more information go to: Calvados Boulard