The Best Cognac You've Never Heard Of: Camus Cognac
Cognac is a beautiful mix of grapes, oak, cherry and a process that is rivaled by none. There is no such thing as a bad cognac because the method is so vigorous. Now don’t let the heading mislead you, those who know about quality brown spirits know about Camus, but for those who like to the enjoy the occasional Cognac and ginger, this might be new to you. Well, let me enlighten you for just a bit, Camus is over 153 years old, family owned and the tradition is 5 generations strong. Taste wise? It’s top 5 without question, and once you have some, you will understand.
Camus is a top-5 cognac worldwide, and that fact that it is still family owned is astonishing. According to the 5th generation Camus, Cyril Camus, there were multiple times when Camus was offered a hefty amount but the family never wavered and they continue to break new barriers. Similar to whiskey, Camus likes to try different things with their cognacs, new grapes from different regions within Cognac, France, and new barrels. Most Cognacs rarely step out of their traditional ways, but Cyril is young and looks at the future of Cognac. I sat down with the current king of Camus, he was brief, direct and held no punches. FYI, Cyril is the Jerry Jones (Owner of the Dallas Cowboys) of Camus, which makes him a big deal:
How long does one have to study before becoming a cellar master?
Cellar master studies for 10 to 12 years and they usually stay on the job for 20 to 30. Is there an age limit? Age doesn't matter.
What’s the most expensive drink you guys make?
We have a Cuvée cognac worth 10k and only a couple of bottles are made for the world.
Which one is your favorite?
2.105 Cuvée (6K bottle), Île de Ré Fine Island, and a Borderies XO after dinner.
How much does a Cellar master make a year?
Cellar Masters don’t do it for the money, it’s about passion and love for what you do, but honestly, I have no idea how much they make (laughs).
When do you see yourself retiring?
I'm 45-years old now, so maybe in 10yrs but we shall see.
What are your thoughts on Dusse?
(Gives me a face of disgust) No Comment (Laughs)
The evening started with an amazing tasting which include all of their variants except their really expensive bottles (bummer). Let go through them:
This VS gives you fresh grapes, fruit flavors, a little pepper and a touch of vine blossom. Good neat or in a cocktail, SRP $30
VSOP’s tend to be a bit rounder and bolder. For this VSOP you get some floral, fruit on the nose, grapefruit and almond. A combination of oak and a vanilla finish that lingers some on the tongue. SRP $45
Who doesn’t love an XO; with this one you get amber, apricot, citrus fruit, honey, chocolate, almond and hazelnut. Similar to the VSOP, the XO has a subtle hint of oak and vanilla in the finish. SRP $160
ELEGANCE EXTRA COGNAC
This extra cognac has a magnificent bottle to go along side an amazing taste. Another Cyril masterpiece, this drink has a very unique aging process that includes taking cognac out of barrels then taken to the Master Cooper to be opened one by one, then gently heated to release the Cognac trapped inside the very grain of its oak staves. These droplets of concentrated Cognac are intensely aromatic. This slight heating process is tailor-made, barrel-by-barrel. The Extra Cognac is then returned to these casks for a special finishing phase that has been named “Dark & Intense”. The taste? Gingerbread, roasted macadamia nuts on the nose and creamy, buttery, spicy flow on the tongue with a dark chocolate finish. SRP $400
From Borderies region of Cognac France
You will get some notes of vanilla and orange zest, also some soft spice and floral aromas. A good balance of robust intensity and a light hint of woodiness. Beautiful long finish, well balanced and wonderfully fresh. SRP $55
Extra Old (aged in oak a minimum of 6.5 years) is drawn from the private family reserves of Borderies. Rich, complex, and velvety, it is distinguished by its delicate violet and hazelnut aromas, smoothness, and rich palate. Drink this neat, or over an ice ball or single square SRP: $180
IL DE RE FINE ISLAND
From IL DE RE Island region of Cognac France
I like this one because it’s direct but it does not lack personality. You will taste some dried fruits, a salty touch with a smooth finish. The salt comes for the region, which is the reason to have this, neat, on the rocks or with a dash of water. SRP $50
IL DE RE DOUBLE MATURED
Not my favorite but perfect for someone who likes spice and heavier smoke in his or her drink. You’re going to get toasted bread, smoke, honey and lively marine on the nose. SRP $70
IL DE RE CLIFFSIDE CELLARS
The Cliffside has a good balance of marine life, spice, vanilla and orange peel. A good touch of sweet and salty. SRP $80