The thirst for cognac continues to grow, especially here in the United States. About 98% of cognac is consumed outside of France, with America being the largest export market, which means that the big cognac houses are often on the search for new ideas and innovation. To that end, Courvoisier, one of the leading brands (owned by Beam Suntory), released its Sherry Cask-Finish expression one year ago. Just this month, it launched Maison Courvoisier in Chicago, an “immersive luxury experience” curated by hip-hop artist Pusha T that will include work from figures in fashion, art, and music. And most recently, Courvoisier announced the release of its new limited edition Bourbon Cask expression.
Courvoisier Avant-Garde Bourbon Cask Edition consists of the house’s VS liquid that was finished in Kentucky bourbon barrels, adding notes of honey, vanilla, and oak to the already fruity and spicy blend. According to the brand, this spirit is meant to be used in cocktails like Old Fashioneds as a whiskey replacement. The point here seems to be an attempt to appeal to the lucrative market of bourbon and whiskey drinkers, a group that might not usually stray to other brown spirits but has been showing some curiosity to try things like aged rum and añejo tequila. And, of course, since this is Beam Suntory there is essentially a limitless supply of bourbon barrels to play with from the likes of the Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark distilleries.
Courvoisier is not the first cognac house to release a bourbon barrel-finished expression. Martell (owned by Pernod Ricard) launched Blue Swift back in 2016, a VSOP expression with a similar American barrel-finish twist. There is a catch to all this, though — the liquid can’t actually be called cognac after spending time in a bourbon barrel because it must be aged in new and used French oak casks from specific regions. “According to official regulations with the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the new Courvoisier innovation is considered a Spirit Drink, as the bourbon barrel aging process does not allow it to be classified as a cognac,” said a representative for Courvoisier.
Whatever you’d like to call it, we will probably be seeing more of this in the future. While traditionalists might scoff at the notion, the rest of us can and should give these new “cognac” expressions a try.
Courvoisier Avant-Garde Bourbon Cask Edition is available now in the U.S. for $39.99.
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