If you want an XO Cognac buy this one. Don’t bother with the others.
Notes: Founded in 1853 and on the Charente River, Louis Royer is one of those cognac houses that everyone else in the world seems to know but are relatively unknown and unrecognized in the U.S. In order to remedy this (for ourselves and our readers) we went on a tour of their Cognac House (distillery and aging warehouses) in Jarnac, France last year. A link to all our photos can be found here. The cognacs they currently offer in the United States are this one, Force 53º V.S.O.P. (a 106 proof expression designed for the US market and for mixing) and a VSOP. They also produce a number of Kosher expressions ( not reviewed here yet) .There are other expressions such as their single region or single cru bottlings – but sadly they are not imported to the US – at least not yet.
Double distilled in copper pot cognac / alembic stills from a base wine with lees it is then carefully aged in a specially selected series of French Limousin Oak casks until ready to be blended. This one is designated as a XO – one of the older expressions you can normally find commercially ( at least without a exponential jump in price). Using some of their oldest stocks from their Paradis room to make the blends from a number of Crus ( Fine Champagne, the Borderies and the Fins Bois ) in various percentages to craft their XO Cognac Louis Royer manages to achieve a richness, subtlety, and structure to be admired. Sometimes it’s what you put in and sometimes it is what you don’t, or the silences in the music to make a piece a classic. They seem to have been able to do all this in liquid form. Not only to do that but to do it at a very modest price, which it could be argued is an even harder piece of performance art.
Appearance: Lovely bright , red gold jewel like baltic amber color, stunning clarity.
First Impression: Dried fruits, citrus,flowers, cocoa, oak, and a touches of leather and tobacco. With a stunning rancio. Adding a little water opens it up nicely and yields even more of the above scents.
Taste: Delicate and refined, with intense notes of pear, tree fruits, vanilla, cream, cocoa, mace, nutmeg, vietnamese cinnamon and whispers of oak, leather and sobranie tobacco. Lovely warm lingering finish is long and downright sensual.
Drinks: Well I guess you could mix it, certainly cheap enough compared to many whiskies but frankly I enjoy by itself so I can concentrate on it. Like a beautiful women this cognac is best enjoyed by itself without competition from others to fully appreciate it. Also you don’t necessarily need a brandy snifter – actually a better choice is a Riedel Stemmed Cognac glass) to enjoy it .
Bottle: Heavy crystal, rectangular with slightly sloped shoulders and concave panels with a printed label with attractive graphics and a small gold trimmed white paper band along the shoulder, Signature in pressed glass on the bottom of the back panel. Nicely cast hexagonal stopper and paper neckwrap. Beautiful presentation piece that looks as good as it contents taste- a rare combination.
Other:Their trademark/seal/crest is a bee whet meaning of which they state is : “diligence, an efficient and lively organization, and regional and craftsman work.” Nicely said.
Final Thoughts: Value is outstanding – especially when you compare the price and quality to every other XO there.
A quick-loading, informative website with lots of useful information. Somehow able to combine elegance with straight-forwardness in a easy-to-navigate website.