Tipsy-Turvy Quick Shots: Single cru cognac, sakura gin, and anniversary spirits


It has been quite a whirlwind past couple of weeks, with the spirit launches and events coming thick and fast. — Photos: MICHAEL CHEANG/The Star

It has been quite a whirlwind past couple of weeks, with the launches and events coming thick and fast, and Kuala Lumpur Cocktail Week in between all that. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the more significant ones.

The Martell Single Cru range

This was arguably one of my most highly anticipated cognac releases of the year. After all, it’s not often you get to taste cognac made from the individual crus that Martell uses.

The Single Cru range has two “editions” – the Discovery Edition, which is Fins Bois, Borderies and Petite Champagne, and the Aged Edition which has the XO Grande Champagne and the XXO Borderies; and finally, a Borderies 1999 Vintage Single Cru.

During a media tasting, we got to try all three cognacs from the Discovery Edition as well as the XO, and it made for a fascinating deconstruction of Martell’s signature flavours.

The Fins Bois was, for me, the lightest of the three Discovery spirits. Lots of peachy, light apricot fruits on the nose, a little grassy with white pears and floral notes on the palate, with a hint of nuttiness on the finish. If we were tasting wines, my impression is that this would be the “white wine” of the range. Not my favourite, but still an interesting spirit.

The Single Cru range is a fascinating deconstruction of Martell’s signature flavours. — HandoutThe Single Cru range is a fascinating deconstruction of Martell’s signature flavours. — Handout

As soon as I nosed and tasted The Borderies, however, my mind immediately thought, “Cordon Bleu”, one of Martell’s most iconic and famous expressions. Now, because I was very much familiar with the Cordon Bleu’s signature flavours, the Borderies Single Cru did end up a bit too familiar for me, though this also makes this arguably the most accessible of the three. It’s also got a much richer, rounder and balanced flavour with lots of dark, fruity notes of ripe peaches and honey.

The third Discovery cognac, the Petite Champagne, was my favourite, as it was the most unique one for me, and did not make me recall any previous Martell expressions. It was quite intense on the nose and palate, with more rich spices and dark fruits, and a finish with fruitcake spices and dark cherries.

Last but not least, was the XO Grande Champagne, which was the first time I had tried a Grande Champagne Single Cru from Martell. As expected, the nose is a lovely, bright yet complex mix of fruits and spices, elegant and mature on the palate with honey and candied peaches, but the finish is where this stands out, with a lovely floral fruity note and lingering sandalwood.

Best of Malaysian talent

Thanesh Joel from Penang bar Backdoor Bodega was recently crowned the champion of Rémy Martin’s Bartender Talent Academy (BTA) Competition.

Created in 2017, the BTA is an international competition that gives the best bartenders in the world the chance to showcase their creative bartending and communication talent through three different tests.

In Malaysia, a total of 12 bartenders representing bars in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor regions took part in the competition this year, and they were tasked with crafting a cocktail using Rémy Martin 1738 Royal Accord cognac that toasts to the spirit of the House. Each cocktail had to reflect the theme, “We Dream Forward”, while connecting the past, present and future of Rémy Martin.

Thanesh of Backdoor Bodega was crowned the Remy Martin BTA champion with a winning drink called ‘Val d’Or’. — HandoutThanesh of Backdoor Bodega was crowned the Remy Martin BTA champion with a winning drink called ‘Val d’Or’. — Handout

These 12 bartenders came together to compete last month, with Thanesh, Lai YS from Penrose, and Melvin Lim from Bar Trigona moving on to the national finals, which was held on May 9 during Rémy Martin’s local 300th anniversary party at Gemu KL.

The three finalists had to go through a mystery challenge in which they had to create a drink that would cater to a specific type of customer’s request, and also win the most amount of public votes with their cocktails.

At the end of the night, Thanesh was crowned the BTA Champion for Malaysia and will now proceed to the Global Final in France happening in September.

His winning drink, Val d’Or (French for “valley of gold”), was inspired by the Accord Royal granted by King Louis XV in 1738 to allow Rémy Martin to use the royal land to plant his vines, and featured the Remy Martin 1738 Royal Accord expression alongside homemade rose apple cider, Punt e Mes vermouth, and garnished with gold flakes.

Sakura spring in a gin

House Of Suntory recently released a special limited edition expression of Roku Gin in Malaysia to celebrate the beauty and vibrancy of the Japanese springtime.

Launched earlier this week at an event at Wet Deck KL, the limited-edition Roku Sakura Bloom Edition is the first of its global “Festival Collection” series of gins crafted to capture the essence of each season. It pays homage to the world-renowned annual Hanami Festival, where people from all over gather at Japan to witness the iconic cherry blossom season.

The Roku Gin Sakura Bloom dials up the floral, delicate sweetness and brightness of sakura flowersThe Roku Gin Sakura Bloom dials up the floral, delicate sweetness and brightness of sakura flowers

While the gin still utilises the six unique Japanese botanicals it is known for – sakura flower, sakura leaf, yuzu peel, sencha tea, Gyokuro tea and sansho pepper – alongside with eight traditional gin botanicals, the Sakura Bloom dials up the floral, delicate sweetness and brightness of sakura flowers, making for a gin that boasts a soft, elegant, and sweet floral taste.

In conjunction with the release, 20 top bars across Malaysia will also be serving their very own interpretation of Roku Sakura Bloom Gin-inspired cocktails. Visit rokugin-sakurabloom.com for more info.

200 years of history

In conjunction with its 200th year anniversary this year, The Glenlivet recently launched the 12 Year Old 200 Year Anniversary Edition, a unique take on its classic 12 Year Old expression. This limited edition whisky is 100% matured in first-filled American Oak (the core 12YO has both American and European oak), and is also bottled at 43% ABV.

During a media tasting event at Private Chamber this week, we got to try the new expression alongside the core 12 Year Old.

The Glenlivet 12 Year Old 200 Year Anniversary Edition is a unique twist on the brand’s core 12YO expression.The Glenlivet 12 Year Old 200 Year Anniversary Edition is a unique twist on the brand’s core 12YO expression.

On the nose, there was a touch of green fruits like pears and apples, and a light hint of toffee and caramel, though not as prominent as that of the core 12YO. On the palate was where it surprised me most – more grassy green pears and apples, a hint of nuttiness and tangerine on the background, finishing with long and grassy fruitiness, and a lingering touch of spice.

We also got to taste the 15 Year Old and 18 Year Old Glenlivet whiskies alongside it, and I was impressed by how well the Anniversary Edition stood up even next to the older age statements.

A tribute to artisans

Hennessy recently launched the new Master Blender’s Selection No. 5 expression, a cognac that pays tribute to the artisans behind the production of its cognacs.

Master Blender Renaud Fillioux de Gironde said in a press release that these include the “Hennessy distillers who are experts and share with us first-rate eaux-de-vie remarkable for their purity, finesse, and potential”.

With Master Blender’s Selection No 5, Fillioux de Gironde opted for an “innovative single-batch blend that will never be replicated”, involving a combination of eaux-de-vie from the 18 unique families of distillers.

On the nose, it offers spice and candied orange notes, leading to a smooth palate with hints of cocoa, sweet spices, and a creamy texture, followed by nuances of light tobacco and candied orange. It is also Hennessy’s only cognac that is bottled at 43% ABV.

Hennessy has also continued its collaboration with the NBA with a new edition of the Hennessy NBA bottleHennessy has also continued its collaboration with the NBA with a new edition of the Hennessy NBA bottle

Hennessy has also continued its collaboration with the NBA with a new edition of the Hennessy NBA bottle, as well as a pop-up event at the TRX Exchange (Concourse level).

The event, which ended on May 19, was built around the central theme of “Without Your Spirit, It’s Only A Game”, and included various activities and merchandise, including DJ performances by local artistes, personalised T-shirt stamping initiatives in collaboration with Against Lab, and more. For more information, visit Hennessy Malaysia’s Facebook page.

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Martell , Remy Martin , Glenlivet , whisky , cognac , gin , Roku Gin

   

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