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Our First ‘Finished’ Bourbon

Recently, we touched on the subject of barrel finishing. Today, we continue the discussion and look at one particular type of barrel: Cognac Barrels. For many, the idea of Cognac is almost romantic. In your mind’s eye, you’re probably thinking of a gorgeous big snifter and maybe pairing it with a cigar. But, what exactly is Cognac?

In simple terms, Cognac is a French brandy made from fermented white wine grapes grown in the Cognac region of France. The Cognac region, in turn, is made up of various regions, each one producing different wines and Eau de vies, or distilled spirits. Cognac flavor notes are typically fruit, honey, and spice.

Just as Bourbon has strict, legal guidelines that must be followed for the whiskey to be called Bourbon, Cognac has its own legal requirements. For instance, a brandy cannot be called Cognac if it is produced outside of the Cognac region of France. It must be made from specific grapes, must be distilled twice in copper pot stills, and must age at least two years in French oak barrels called Limousin casks.

Most Cognacs are blends of various years, similar in nature to many Bourbons. Cognac is categorized into age groups:

  • V.S. is Very Special, or may be called Three-Star, and indicates the youngest brandy in the batch was aged at least two years.
  • V.S.O.P. is Very Superior Old Pale, or may also be called Reserve, and indicates the youngest brandy in the batch was aged at least four years.
  • X.O. is Extra Old, or may also be called Napoleon, and indicates the youngest brandy in the batch was aged ten years or more.

For the last several weeks, we’ve been telling you about several great collaborative events that have occurred and are in store for J. Henry & Sons in 2017. We’ve learned a bit about barrel finishes, and today we’ve touched on Cognac.

This all leads to our first major announcement of 2017. The third expression of our bourbon is finally ready for release: J. Henry & Sons Bellefontaine Reserve! Bellefontaine Reserve is our Wisconsin Straight Bourbon, extra-aged for five and a half years in new, charred oak barrels, slowly reduced and finished for another eight months in ex-V.S.O.P. Cognac barrels. We can’t wait for you to try this new product!

If you want to be among the very first to taste Bellefontaine Reserve, visit us at Distill America Saturday, February 18th at the historic The Edgewater Hotel in downtown Madison. VIP tickets are sold out, but you can still buy General Admission tickets online at http://www.distillamerica.com. While you are at it, Madison Hotel Week, runs February 10th to 19th so you can enjoy Distill America to the fullest and enjoy responsibly. The Edgewater is among several downtown hotels participating in this event. Please consider booking a room so you can enjoy Distill America to its fullest. Learn more by visiting http://www.visitmadison.com/madison-hotel-week/hotels/.

We hope to see you at Distill America so you can discover ways to #DrinkBetterNotMore and can #RewardYourself with our new Bellefontaine Reserve Cognac finished Bourbon and all our bourbons. Cheers!

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