And just when you thought your head was about to explode with all the new K&L exclusive whiskey that just showed up, we're about to pound you with the second wave of French exclusive arrivals (just in time for BrandyFest, no less!). Michel Forgeron is a Grand Champagne Cognac producer that we're very excited to be working with. He represents the first distiller we've met in the Charente who is interested in maturing his brandy more like the Scottish mature their whisky. Part of the reason Cognac never achieves that rich, spicy, assertive character is because the French love topping up their barrels to prevent evaporation. While that practice does help in the hopeless fight against the angels, it does so at the expense of concentration.
You'd think the French would stay true to their own products, but the truth is that France consumes far more whisky than they do brandy. In fact, France consumes more whisky than the UK or the US. Hard to believe, right? But true. That being the case, you'd think it was just a matter of time before cask strength, single barrel, and age statement labeling infiltrated the world of French brandy. You'd be right to think that, because it's beginning to happen. Michel Forgeron is already selling vintage-dated, cask strength, single barrel releases in his gift shop. We were hoping to extend the reach of that gift shop to California when we visited him this past Spring.
Even though there are some fantastically-descript expressions available from Forgeron, we're going to begin with small steps and hold true to the VS, VSOP, and XO formula for now. However, seeing that his basic line ranges from 45% to 50% in ABV, you're in for a real treat with these Cognacs. They're bold, woody, spicy, and much more lively that the ubiquitous expressions that strive for "smooth" and "no burn." Michel Forgeron also said one of the coolest things to us when we asked him why other producers weren't looking to bring Cognac into the next generation:
"Most Cognac producers don't even drink Cognac," he said with a snarl. "They do it because they were born into it. They don't even like Cognac, most of them."
Michel is not afraid to piss people off. We love this guy.