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Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula

Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840
Original Formula


By Robert Plotkin

Few names are held in such high esteem within the international spirits community as Pierre Ferrand. Cognac can't be handcrafted any more skillfully or produced to yield a higher quality, better tasting spirit than those made by the venerable Cognac house of Pierre Ferrand. It's not possible. That said, the firm is anything but entrenched in convention. Case in point is the release of Pierre Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula, a sensational spirit created expressly for use in cocktails.

Released in 2011, the 1840 Original Formula is crafted in the style of Three-Star Cognacs, which were the belle of the golden age of mixology and the foundation of scores of classic cocktails and mixed drinks. These spirits were highly prized for their pronounced flavors, wafting bouquets and rich, lively characters, all ideal traits for drink making. Search all you want, a more elegant and mixable Cognac you will not find [with the possible exception of Pierre Ferrand Ambre Champagne Cognac].

Much of this new Cognac's vitality can be attributed to its lineage and terroir. Pierre Ferrand is situated in the heart of the Grande Champagne district and is one of a small handful of firms that do not blend its Grande Champagne Cognacs with those from lesser appellations. In their vineyards they cultivate Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes. After harvesting, the grapes are immediately pressed and allowed to ferment naturally. The wines are left unfiltered and distilled on the lees, meaning that some of the skins and stems go into the still as well to produce more depth of flavor.

Pierre Ferrand employs several small copper pot stills—each with only a 25-hectoliter capacity—to produce their eaux de vie, a finest portion of which is transferred into 270-liter Limousin oak barrels. The estate's seven aging cellars have traditional dirt floors to maintain the proper degree of humidity. After the Cognac has been deemed fully matured, it is blended into its final expression and gradually reduced to proof with water that has been aged for up to six months in old, previously used barrels.

In keeping with its more assertive style, the Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula is bottled at an elevated 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof), markedly stronger than the other marques in the range. The Cognac has a luminous amber hue, a velvety, medium-weight body and a generous floral and fruit bouquet. The combined effect is luxurious and quite captivating. The Cognac immediately bathes the palate with the long-lasting flavors of cinnamon, apples, vanilla and toffee. The lingering finish is dry, warm and eminently delicious.

That Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula is world-class caliber is no accident. It was carefully assembled by the company president, Alexandre Gabriel, cellar-master Christian Guerin and American cocktail historian David Wondrich. The accomplished trio sampled scores of Three-Star Cognacs, many of which dated back to the early 19th century. The final blend is closely reminiscent to that of an 1840 vintage Pinet-Castillon Cognac.

This utterly sophisticated spirit will indeed make any cocktail that much better. To ensure the success of the venture, the prestigious firm has priced their new release around $45. However, one word of advice. Before using the Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula in a cocktail, do yourself a favor and sample the Cognac neat. Although created with the intention of being featured in mixed drinks, it's a guaranteed crowd pleaser when sipped neat.

À votre santé!