Close

My Wandering Eye: Dusty Cognacs from the 1970s

Posted on by Eric Burke

This post is only part of the My Wandering Eye series as a tangent. It wasn’t cheap. It isn’t readily available. But it was inspired by the exploration of other aged spirits that I conducted as part of the My Wandering Eye series. You see I was trolling eBay looking for photos of old bottles for a project that I’m working on when I happened across a listing from Canada that was offering old miniature bottles from the collection of the seller's deceased parents. In that lot were bourbons, scotches and cognacs. To be honest, the price wasn’t bad…until I got into a bidding war with another person. At which point emotion took over and I ended up dropping about $100 for 15 minis from the 1970s. Of which nine were still full and sealed.

I’ve already reviewed the Wild Turkey I received in the lot, but I was really interested to see what the cognacs in the lot would taste like. I’ve had good brandy and I’ve had terrible brandy. But when I was a kid, cognac in a snifter was visual shorthand for wealth. I was a kid in the 1970s. The fact that these were from that timeframe (even if they were possibly the lower shelf versions) was interesting. So let’s get into it. 

Courvoisier V.S.

Details: Pre-1975 is as close to a date as I can figure. The top was dipped in paraffin by the previous owner. Sealed. 80 proof.

Nose: Dried, dark fruit (raisins or figs), sweet baked goods. Basically this has the nose of a Fig Newton.

Mouth: Sweet and rich with a ton of fruit present. There are some baking spices on the back end.

Finish: Short with lingering fruit.

meh.gif

Thoughts: Overall, this is ok. Nothing to write home about and I wouldn’t seek out another, but it was interesting to taste a bit of history. It is sweet and fruit forward. A bit too sweet for my tastes.

Marnier-Lapostolle Cognac

Details: Sept 1972 is printed on the back of the label so I’m going with that for an age. Sealed. 40% ABV

Nose: Birdseed, rubber and a hint of spoiled fruit juice.

Mouth: Sugar sweet with an unpleasant spoiled fruit undercurrent to it.

Finish: Short with lingering spoiled fruit.

dislike.gif

Thoughts: There are two options here. One is that maybe there is a reason that, here in the US, Marnier-Lapostolle is known more for their Grand Marnier liqueur than they are for cognac. Maybe they aren’t good at this whole unflavored spirit thing. The other option is that this little bottle has seen some hard times over the last 44 years and the juice just didn’t hold up. I don’t know which it is and am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt since, of it’s 40 plus years of history, I only know that this bottle was made in France and ended up in the collection of a Canadian collector before coming to me. But wow. This is downright bad.

Hennessy Fine Cognac

Details: Pre-1975 is as close to a date as I can figure. The top was dipped in paraffin by the previous owner. Sealed. 80 proof.

Nose: Ripe peaches along with floral and oak notes.

Mouth: Very sweet. Caramel, dried flowers and hints of baking spice.

Finish: Fairly short with lingering dried fruits.

meh.gif

Thoughts: This was hands down the best of the three. Mostly on the strength of the nose. Peaches are one of my favorite fruits and that ripe peach note grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Once it got into my mouth though things fell off and since ultimately the point of the liquid is to be consumed, that’s where I judge it. Once again it was ok. There wasn’t much that would lead me to seek it out again though if a friend were pouring, I wouldn’t turn it down. I will say it was much better than the modern day release of the same that I have on hand for making cocktails. 

This was an interesting exercise for me. It’s fun to taste what our parents or grandparents tasted. And it’s good to be reminded from time to time that not everything that comes from prior to the time we were born is necessarily as good as we are sometimes lead to believe...it’s just harder to come by.


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!