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Cognac and Brandy Masters – Asia 2020

Cognac and Brandy Masters – Asia 2020

The judges: Alice Liang, managing editor of the drinks business Asia
Eddie Nara, independent spirits educator and consultant
Lorenzo Antinori, beverage manager & beverage ambassador APAC at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong.

The Cognac & Brandy Masters – Asia 2020 proved to be a particularly successful event, each of the entrants being awarded a medal in recognition of their exceptional quality.

Cognac Frapin, in particular, won three Master medals. Priced at HK$520, Cognac Frapin VSOP was the cheapest Cognac in this competition, yet it showcased extraordinary value for money. Lorenzo Antinori, beverage manager and beverage ambassador APAC at the Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, thought the drink expressed a good balance of a vibrant soul and fresh profile, which was also versatile enough to integrate in cocktails.

Meanwhile, the brand’s Cigar Blend XO illustrated another impressive and intriguing character. “Single-cru XO is all about the complexity,” said Antinori. “This Cognac is sophisticated, juicy and extremely balanced, with a lingering waxy nose that reminds me of church candles.” And Cognac Frapin Extra, a blend with reserves of up to 45 years old in it, charmed the panel with its matured elegance.

The competition also saw a Master winner from A. de Fussigny. The XO Fine Champagne Cognac was a “sweet bomb penetrating with nice chocolate notes”, according to Eddie Nara, independent spirits educator and consultant.

J. G. Monnet & Co. submitted the only XXO entry in the competition. Introduced in 2018, the new age category requires the youngest distillate in the blend to be at least 14 years old. Nara reckoned the Cognac, which won a Gold medal, was “reasonably priced, with various layers on the palate, and the finish is considerably long and elaborate”.

Going beyond Cognac, the judges tasted a few brandies, and were gripped by the La Colline XO Plénitude. It costs less than HK$500, and Nara thought it was excellent value for money, saying it was “just good for what it is. For beginners, this is a decent aged grape spirit with a standard profile, such as vanilla and caramel notes.”

In all, the panel agreed that Cognac is in need of a revolution to vitalise the entire industry. The market players should roll their sleeves up and attract the younger generation. Antinori added: “There are many more ways to enjoy Cognac. In terms of the packaging, I have seen some of the producers are using contemporary bottle designs.” Upon revealing the bottles, the panel especially appreciated the effort of Exsto Cognac to give the packaging a new look.

Modern and chic, the bottle designs are making their way to appeal to customers who are not used to drinking Cognac. In terms of quality, the panel found the Elixir Cognac displayed pretty good fruit notes, despite them taking time to develop. The expression also had a better competitive edge in terms of pricing.

The Cognac and Brandy Masters – Asia 2020

Company Product Medal
No Age Statement Ultra Premium
HK$3,000- HK$4,000
Exsto Cognac Exsto Cognac Elixir Gold
HK$10,000 – HK$15,000
Exsto Cognac Exsto Cognac – Or Imperial Silver
VSOP Single Cru
Congac Frapin Cognac Frapin – VSOP Master
XO Single Cru
Congac Frapin Cognac Frapin – Cigar Blend XO Master
Congac Frapin Cognac Frapin – Extra Master
Congac Frapin Cognac Frapin – XO VIP Gold
XO Ultra Premium
A de Fussigny A. de Fussigny XO Fine Champage Master
XXO Cognac
J. G. Monnet & Co Monnet XXP Cognac Gold
XO Brandy
Spiritique La Colline XO Plénitude Gold
Other French Brandies
A de Fussigny Symbole National XO Silver

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