Welcome, Martell!


Welcome, Martell!

Find the Cognac at the Mumm booth

with Debbian Spence-Minott

Thursday, May 30, 2019

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As I indicated in past articles, the adult beverage category comprises beers, wines and spirits. If we subdivided the spirits category we would find seven base spirits: Whisky/Whiskey, Brandy, Gin, Vodka, Rum, Mescal/Tequila and Bourbon. And of course, these seven subcategories can be further expanded. This week, I take a closer look at the cognac category as Jamaica was abuzz with the announcement of the entrance of Martell Cognac.

What is Cognac?

Cognac (kon-yak) takes its designation and naming after the town of Cognac located in France.

Cognac is a form of brandy but produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town of Cognac.

Quite simply, if brandy is to be called a cognac then its production (from harvesting to bottling) must take place in the Cognac region of France. Therefore, a cognac is a brandy, but a brandy is not a cognac!


How is Cognac made?

Cognacs are made from grapes. The three grapes used are known as Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard. The crus or vineyards where the grapes are grown also help to define the style, quality and characteristics of the grapes which will be used to make cognac. There are six crus in the Cognac region; they are:

Grande Champagne — known to be the most prestigious cru as the soil type, topography and general layout produce the best grapes.

Petite Champagne/Fine Champagne — similar characteristics of the grapes grown in the Grand Champagne region but have a slightly less optimal environment.

Borderies — grapes grown in this region are known for their distinctive flavour.

Fin Bois — grapes grown in this region assist in faster aging

Bon Bois – soil quality is less optimal; however, grapes grown in this region assist in faster aging.

Bon Ordinaires — very poor soil quality with less potential; however, grapes grown in this area also assist in faster aging.

By law (appellation) the juices or eaux-de-vie extracted from these grapes are double distilled, aged in oak barrels for at least two years, and blended.


Martell Cognac — The Oldest Cognac House In The World

Martell, the oldest of the great cognac houses, forged by passion and knowledge passed through the Martell family since 1715 — creating cognacs that have been enjoyed and cherished for over 300 years! In 1715, Jean Martell leaves his native Jersey and arrives in France to devote himself to studying and developing the art of cognac. He travels the region, searching for the finest eaux-de-vie and establishing ties with local wine-growers that will last for generations.After the death of Jean Martell in 1753, his widow Rachel Lallemand takes over the business, vowing to uphold his vision and integrity. She manages the house according to an uncompromising philosophy, saying: 'I want only the best, without artifice'.

pIn 1783, The Treaty of Paris recognises the independence of the United States of America. Overseas business continues to boom, with the first shipment to the USA: 87 units of Martell eaux-de-vie. In 1831, Frédéric Martell, Jean Martell's great-grandson, first uses the 'Very Superior Old Pale' (VSOP) label.The first country to receive shipments of Martell VSOP is England. This cognac has since become a symbol of refinement and savoir-faire throughout the world.

The 1900s see Martell sharing space with kings and queens across the world. In 1911 Martell cognac is served at the coronation of King George V of England. In 1956, Martell Extra is served during a gala dinner to celebrate the marriage of Prince Rainier of Monaco to the US film star Grace Kelly.The following year, Martell Cordon Bleu is served at a reception given at the Louvre by the French president in honour of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her first official visit to France. In 1971, a case of Martell Cordon Bleu is presented to Emperor Hirohito of Japan during his state visit to France. Fast-forward to 2017, Martell explores new territories of aging savoir-faire and pays tribute to its historic ties with the United States with the launch of Martell Blue Swift, a VSOP finished in Kentucky bourbon casks.

And now, in 2019, Martell lands on the shores of Jamaica under the distributorship of Select Brands Limited. We are excited to see how the brand will be received by Jamaicans and possible opportunities that will be afforded to advance the growth of Jamaicans working directly or indirectly with these adult beverage brands.


The Featured Variants

Martell VS Single Distillery — Martell VS Single Distillery marries spirits from a single distillation source in the Cognac region, in France, for a richer and more intense expression of the Martell distillation style. Martell double distils exclusively clear wines – from which all sediments have been removed – in order to preserve the authentic fruity aromas of the grapes, and reveal an extreme finesse, hallmarks of the Martell style. Taking this approach further, each bottle of Martell VS Single Distillery is blended from eaux-de-vie derived from a single distillation source. In this supremely smooth blend, the luscious fruity aromas associated with Martell are truly taken to new heights.


Martell Blue Swift – the first ever spirit drink made with Cognac VSOP then finished in Bourbon Cask. On appearance, an elegant coppery colour with golden glints can be observed. The aromas come alive with hints of banana and caramelised pears. Then a subtle sweetness appears, and notes of vanilla & coconut mixed with spicy and menthol are revealed. On the palette, we are not disappointed. we experience finesse, the aromas are confirmed in a balanced and silky-smooth way.


Martell & The Arts – Martell has been celebrating the visionaries and cultural innovators from the world of music and dance. Martell starts well, as the brand recently inked a sponsorship deal with one of the icons of dancehall – Rodney Price. The brand will also participate in the 21st anniversary celebrations of the Jamaica Observer Food Awards, pairing French cocktails with Jamaican cuisine.


Readers' Feedback:

Imagine if we embraced life's moments big and small, without reservation. Together, we might fill the world with contagious joy. Please share with me your wines, spirits and cocktail experiences or comments on the above article at debbiansm@gmail.com, or follow me on IG @debbiansm #barnoneja.


Debbian Spence-Minott

An Alumna of the US Sommelier Association

CEO of the Academy of Bartending, Spirits & Wines

President – Jamaica Union of Bartenders and Mixologists (JUBAM) Limited

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