Review: Hine Rare VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac / by Jason Hambrey

>4 yrs
Distiller Hine (Jarnac, France)

Hine has been making cognacs since 1763 - it's a very different spirit than the Armagnacs I've recently been producing. It is distilled twice, and has more regulations - what sort of wine presses can be used, how long after harvest you are legally allowed to distill the wines, and distilled to a much higher ABV. The oak is from local forests, and the resulting product is quite a bit lighter than Armagnac and tends to be quite spicy - naturally, probably, a bit less elegant (though I really do generally like the rustic-ness of Armagnac more). Moreover, 95% of Cognac is controlled by 5 brands - unlike the hundreds of family owned businesses in Armagnac. Interestingly, additions are prohibited in cognac - except -  sugar, caramel, and oak infusion.

This is from the region of "Fine Champagne" a legal designation composed of at least 50% of Grand Champage cognac (the most prestigious region of cognac), and the rest composed of cognac from the region of Petit Champage.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

The nose has raisins, nuts, and lots of spices – menthol, cedar, green cardamom, dried cranberry , dried blueberries, dried orange peel– fairly perfumed too. And all nicely integrated. The palate does not disappoint, and has terrific feel – raisins, vanilla, oak, dried berries, and lots of those spices just listed. Great dryness. Not creamy, but has some custard-like richness. Oak takes over on the finish, while being still quite spicy. Warm and developing on the finish – and continuing to be dry – brilliant.

Assessment: Recommended.

Value: Average. Not bad, for a cognac, but there are generally better value spirits available.