Review: Flaviar Frérot XO Cognac

New from Flaviar is, well, a bit of a welcome surprise. Frérot, an XO cognac, is the result of a crowdtasting. This non-chill filtered (!!!) cognac is 20-35 years old (aged in cold, humid cellars) and is a blend of all six crus. Simply based on this information, I might be in love. Let’s see how it tastes.

The nose features hints of baking spices and fruit, both candied and dried. The spirit’s age shows, adding a touch of tobacco and rancio. Bottled at 42% ABV, which is slightly higher than most cognacs, Frérot XO provides more of those fruit and spice notes on the palate. Add to that an earthiness in the form of cigar box and the cognac becomes a bit more complex. The finish is medium in length and a bit dry.

What a delectable pour! Frérot checks all the boxes in terms of what I enjoy in a cognac. I prefer them rich, spicy, and robust, and all that is delivered here in spades. Beautifully done. Frérot is available Flaviar members for $98 a bottle. The price for non-members is $130.

Thanks to Flaviar for the sample. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Tabasco Diamond Reserve and a Whiskey-based Bloody Mary

So, a Tabasco post on a whiskey blog? Yes, and you’ll soon see why…

For as long as I can remember, there has always been a bottle of Tabasco on the dining room table. My dad put the Louisiana hot sauce on everything. I remember trying it on a cracker once when I was young. It was just a drop or two, but it lit my mouth on fire. I stayed away from it for years. But as I grew up, I found myself using Tabasco more often. In fact, I refuse make scrambled eggs without it.

And Tabasco’s been around long before my memories. This year mark’s their 150th anniversary. To commemorate the milestone, they’ve released their Diamond Reserve. It contains peppers aged up to fifteen years in oak barrels, whereas the peppers in the standard Tabasco sauce age for three. By the way, those oak barrels are ex-bourbon barrels, but none of the trapped whiskey makes its way into the pepper mash. This limited release sauce also uses sparkling white wine vinegar instead of standard white vinegar, hence the champagne-looking bottle.

Tabasco’s normally a nice balance of spicy and tart. The Diamond Reserve almost comes across as aged balsamic vinegar on the nose. Taste-wise, the heat seems slightly reserved compared to the standard,which is more heat up-front. The flavors here come across as much more rounded and complex.

I wanted to use this Tabasco release in a Bloody Mary, but with whiskey instead of vodka. I don’t like a heavy Bloody Mary, so no horseradish here. George Dickel No. 12 is the base spirit, along with a little George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish. I also added a bit of Lagavulin 16 to add some smoky complexity.

  • 1oz George Dickel No. 12
  • .5oz George Dickel Tabasco Barrel Finish
  • .5oz Lagavulin 16yo
  • 4oz tomato juice
  • 3-4 dashes Tabasco Diamond Reserve
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Dash of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to a highball glass. Fill glass with ice and mix. Garnish with a celery stalk.

Book Review: Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal

France’s La Maison du Whisky, already world famous for its dedication to whisky, has just released a book for every whisky enthusiast’s shelf. The beautifully-bound Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal is part educational book, part history book, and part whisky journal.  Divided into five sections, Whisky is a great way to begin your whisky journey, whether you read and write in English or French.  Each page is divided into two columns, providing information in both languages.

The first section, “How to Enjoy Whisky,” contains tasting and nosing tips, as well as touching on subjects like glassware, aeration, and the addition of ice/water.  Experienced drinkers will know most of this stuff, but it’s addition here is aimed at novices.

“A Whisky Chronology” is basically a condensed timeline of important whisky dates, from its first recorded mention in 1494 to Kavalan Solist Vinho Barrique Cask Strength being declared the ‘best single malt in the world’ in 2015.

The next section, “A Whisky History,” goes into much more detailed lessons.  Different whisky types are covered here, from Scotch single malts to American bourbon.  Just like prior sections, this information is mainly for novices, but more advanced imbibers could always use a history refresher, especially while enjoying a dram.

The main event, so to speak, is the “Cellar Notes” section.  More than 100 pages of the book are devoted to whisky journaling, allowing you to take detailed tasting notes.  Whisky tasting notes are great to look back on, as whiskies slightly change over time.  Not to mention your tastes, which could minutely shift over the years.  There will be people that might purchase a book like this but never write in it.  Don’t make that mistake, folks.  A whisky journal’s sole purpose is to use it to record your tasting notes.  It’s like a great bottle of whisky – it does no good just sitting there.  Open it.  Savor it.  Otherwise, it’s just a bottle of liquor.

Lastly, Whisky concludes with a section entitled, “The World’s Finest Whiskies.”  In essence, this section is a distillery profile of sorts – location, founding date, types of whisky produced there, etc.  Additionally, La Maison du Whisky includes what it considers the ten finest whiskies released by each featured distillery.

I can’t recommend Whisky: The Connoisseur’s Journal with any more excitement.  It makes a wonderful gift for the whisky lover in your life as well as for those just starting out in their own whisky adventure.  The book’s list price is $24.95, but you might be able to find it online for a bit cheaper.  Hey, Father’s Day is just around the corner.  This book paired with a nice bottle of whisky… now we’re talking!

La Maison Du Whisky

Thanks to La Maison du Whisky for the advanced copy.  As always, all thoughts and opinion are my own.