Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Chalfonte V.S.O.P. Cognac - # 224811- early-2000s - 40%
Context: Recently, I threw caution to the wind, filling a shopping cart with a bunch of cheap brandy from the early-2000s. I’d already drank through the store’s dusty tequila and was on the hunt for some more interesting sub-40 dollar bottles that I could guilt-free fool around with. Worst case scenario, I knew I was going to be making orange liqueur and eggnog in the near enough future. Even the terrible stuff would find a forever home. Secretly, I hoped there would be multiples of something dirt cheap on the shelf that could slow my consumption/preserve bottles of JLP.
Chalfonte’s parent company, Chatam International Incorporated, was founded in 1980. The Company's line of business includes the manufacturing of wines, brandy, and brandy spirits. This expression is a V.S.O.P. so it’s at least 4 years old. I’m not a big fan of the “Grand Fine Cognac” descriptor. With the cursive, it’s easy to lazily mistake this for a regional designation. All signs point to this being young, bulk juice, that was sweetened up (likely without skill or traditional methods). But what the hell, it’s only nineteen dollars (he said as he threw nineteen dollars away).
Nose: Waxy and fruity. Orange zest. Grassy. Marshmallow cream. Cheap wood. There’s something earthy and baked underneath it. It’s young and light, but definitely out-kicking its price point here.
Flavor: We all knew this was coming. Marshmallow/vanillas are super artificial and the palate actually has some residual sugar stickiness to it - palate wrecker. Wood kicks cheap and freshly sawed right before the bargain-bin-booze-bag notes (Crystal Palace Vodka, anyone?) dominate the short finish.
Palate Structure: It doesn’t feel right in your mouth. It goes from fat to thin and back again between the sweetness getting sticky and the wood playing young and angular.
Alcohol Integration: The finish is loaded with well vodka which makes it drink “hot” despite the 40%.
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Big House Cognac - something younger and goosed up.
Score: 3 (Wish I Was Drinking Something Else) If not for the nose, we'd be in nothing "nice to say category." And to think, this was an older bottling (with a box nonetheless), lighter (more natural) in color and even listed the bottle number on the label (they don't do that anymore). Seemed like such a sure thing... But hey, nineteen bucks and the orange liqueur ended up being perfectly serviceable. I just dialed back the usual amount of sugar.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Wish I Was Drinking Something Else
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour