This week the F+R Spirits team visited Jarnac in southwestern France, as guests of Delamain Cognac house. During the trip they became better acquainted with their range of Cognacs and attended the annual ‘Cognac Blues Passions’ festival. Read what the trip entailed…
Why did we go?
It is always exciting getting to travel to see producers we work with and better understand what makes the region and their products so special. We are always on the lookout for opportunities to work with producers who hold the same values and commitment to quality as we do. Getting to grips with what drives Delamain, as well as gaining an understanding of their rich history and plans for the future, is invaluable. Their cellars are full of amazing casks and we were able to taste them and open the conversation about releasing rare and exclusive casks in partnership with FINE+RARE. Watch this space...
Who did we meet?
As the entire company is made up of only 15 people, we were lucky enough to meet everyone who plays a part in the production, bottling and packaging of Delamain Cognac. Our two main hosts were Charles Braastad, CEO and 9th generation of the Delamain Family, and Rebecca Montgomery, Head of Marketing.
What did we do while there?
We arrived on Tuesday from Bordeaux just in time for lunch, and after a quick introduction we sat down with Rebecca and Charles and spoke about the history of Delamain. Charles informed us that he was the 9th Generation in his family to run the show, and that his ancestor James Delamain, an Irish immigrant, started the Cognac House of Ranson-Delamain, which although dissolved in the early 1800s set the foundation for the Cognac Houses of Hine and Delamain. ** **
After lunch we toured their cellars, which are discreetly scattered around the town. 13th Century crypts hold casks of Delamain that fill the air with aromas of citrus, cigar box and spices. The walls are blackened with a noble fungus that, as anyone who has toured a distillery knows, means you have perfect conditions for ageing spirits. The combination of cool temperatures and humid conditions allows these casks to hold Cognac in some cases for 60+ years, slowly developing a range of flavour only achievable with time and patience.
Throughout the afternoon we tasted many samples direct from cask and explored the differences that develop in the spirits as it ages - from fresh and citrus aromas when young, to tobacco, vanilla and toffee as they approach maturity.
After our tasting we were invited to attend the annual Cognac Blues Passions festival, which has been the highlight of the Jarnac social scene for the last 25 years. Everyone who is anyone was in attendance and as we watched a band play the blues while sipping on a Cognac-based cocktail accompanied by foie gras, we felt truly immersed in the local culture.
We began the day with a guided tasting of the Cognacs that form the core range of Delamain, including the Pale & Dry, The Vesper, and an incredible single vintage 1988, among many others. Delamain’s style has always been fresher and drier than other cognacs, more precise and less sweet.
After lunch we visited a barrel cooperage and saw the manual skill and hard work that goes into the production of a barrel. It was wonderful to see that the care and attention was not limited to the Cognac houses or blenders, but that everybody who plays a part in the process approaches their role with utmost care and attention to detail.
After a quick stop back at Maison Delamain we said our goodbyes and headed back to Bordeaux to catch our flights.
Maison Delamain completely surpassed all expectations! The quality of their range is undeniable and their dedication to the craft and the region was apparent within minutes of meeting them. Charles mentioned over lunch that they felt a great responsibility in selecting their casks, as any decision made now would affect not only them, but the future leaders of Delamain, their children and grandchildren. As such they have a commitment to do everything in their power to make sure the company continues on its path of excellence - they owe it to their customers as well as themselves.