Navan Cognac Review
For a long time Cognac has struggled to gain recognition as a proper liquor. Although in certain urban locations it is quite popular, for the most part Cognac has very little following. An often misunderstood type of brandy, Cognac is actually named after a city on the Charente river in France. To be called Cognac, brandy must come from this area and must follow certain rules of distillation and aging (these rules are quite reminiscent of the ones which we went over in our Bulleit Bourbon review).
Cognac must be double-distilled immediately after distillation and must be aged at least 3 years in Limousin oak barrels. Since distillation removes impurities, obviously double-distillation is a good thing, both for your palate and your head the morning after. And as far as the Limousin, it has a very loose grain so it imparts a pretty strong oak flavor to the brandy compared to other types of oak.
Today we will look at a lesser known Cognac, coming to us from the makers of Grand Marnier. Navan is an 80 proof Cognac made with black vanilla bean, the 2nd most expensive spice in the world. On the bottle is printed: “The rare black vanilla of Madagascar is the fruit of the sensuous orchid. Its complex, distinctive flavor is considered the world’s finest. Intense, smooth, rich and aromatic.”
Brandy Imported from France
80 Proof (40% ABV)
Typical Price: $35-$40 for 750ML (Available at Shopper's Vineyard)
Upon receiving the bottle we really were hoping that the company’s praises would be true, because we certainly are fans of Grand Marnier and we wanted to fulfill the dream of mixing them both up in some sort of in-bred Cosmo/Brandy Alexander concoction.
The bottle is short and wide, with a simple, elegant design. Upon opening the bottle and pouring it (a snifter is recommended, as with all brandies), the nose is mostly of pure alcohol. In fact, the nose was so strong we had to double-check that it really was 80 proof. After a few whiffs we could finally smell a slightly oaky vanilla, however it was still pretty faint compared to the raw alcohol smell.
As soon as we started drinking it, we noticed berry and almost chocolate flavors popping out. The more we continued to inflame our tastebuds, the more it seemed like we were downing an alcoholic raspberry cheesecake. This is not a bad thing, so far as we can tell.
As we continued drinking, we noticed a slight burning sensation beginning in the back of the throat and heading up towards the roof of the mouth. After a few minutes the burning was still there, but only slightly. We thought that we would try heating the Navan to see if that would affect its taste. Once heated up, it released more of a vanilla flavor and it tasted like a bon-bon going down. So tasty! Now of course if you are male you might not want to admit your love of Navan bon-bons to the muscle-bound drinking buddy who uses his ex-girlfriends as dumbbells. However, the fact is that vanilla Cognac, and specifically Navan is very good and you should try it before you knock it, although at $40/fifth we can understand if you want to try a glass before you buy a bottle. Cheers!
[Great review, Josh! Keep 'em coming! - Ed.]
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Posted by Jake Jamieson at August 2, 2007 7:59 AM