PETALING JAYA, June 21 ― French cognac house Martell introduced a new VSOP that’s aged entirely in red barrels; previously VSOP was aged in different barrels.
What that means is a smoother cognac with a less overpowering woody taste.
Thanks to a loyal fan base here, Malaysia is the first country in Asia where the new Red Barrels cognac is launched.
Red barrels are used casks that the precious eaux de vie has been matured in ― the term red refers to the reddish colour of the wood. The barrels are fashioned from 180- to 200-year-old oak wood.
“In the beginning, you have new barrels but once they’ve been used between three to eight years, you have the perfect stage of maturation for the barrels,” explained cellar master Christophe Vaultaud.
Cognac matured in new barrels result in a strong spicy flavour profile with hints of bitterness and astringency but when it is matured in red barrels, the harshness is toned down.
“We use these barrels to normally age the Cordon Bleu and now we are also able to use these barrels exclusively for this new VSOP.
“The flavour you can taste is a soft spiciness, when the barrels are new you get a strong spiciness and here you get something that’s perfectly balanced, which makes it really interesting,” Valtaud said.
Valtaud, the expert behind this latest creation, wanted to create a new VSOP that straddles both legacy and reinterpretation.
“We wanted this new VSOP to reflect Martell’s house style which is embodied by Cordon Bleu so Christophe has tried to make this more in line with our signature product.
“Martell is the oldest of the major cognac companies but even after 300 years, we’ve remained a very contemporary brand,” said heritage director Jacques Menier whose role is to ensure countries are following the right decision in promoting a cognac with such a long history.
The new Red Barrels cognac boasts fruity flavours of ripe mirabelle and greengage plums, apricots and peaches, and soft spiciness of vanilla and cinnamon.
It pairs well with Asian food, especially Chinese cuisine which guests had the opportunity to sample at the launch event yesterday held at Copper Mansion.
“Surprisingly, it also goes well with spicy food because of its delicate fruity tones,” said Menier.
Great in cocktails or drunk neat, Menier recommends mixing the new Red Barrels with water or some ice.
So, is there a major no-no when it comes to drinking cognac?
“Drinking it on your own!” exclaimed Menier while Valtaud added, “Cognac is meant for sharing.”
Also present at the launch was Martell ambassador for Malaysia Pierre Boyer, who wants to shatter cognac’s hoity-toity image.
“People tend to be intimidated by cognac, they should not ― you can make great cocktails with cognac, you can enjoy cognac any way you like,” said Boyer.