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The World's Most Expensive Cognac (January 4, 2001)

Yesterday I tasted the world's most expensive bottle of cognac. It's called timeless and it was made by Hennessy from a blend of eleven cognacs dating from 1900 to 1990. Only 2,000 bottles were produced (actually to mark the millennium) and each one was numbered.

My pour was less than one ounce (I was part of a group of wine writers invited by Maurice Hennessy to sample this rare item) and I figured my measure must have cost about $250 Canadian - because the bottle in question costs $5,000 US.

The blend, by Hennessy's cellar master Yann Fillioux, was made up of the best vintage cognacs from the company's paradis (the inner sanctum of a cognac house where they keep their reserve stocks of old brandies, usually in glass carboys). They came from vintages1900, 1918, 1929, 1939, 1947, 1953, 1959, 1961, 1970, 1983 and 1990.

Each 750mL bottle of timeless comes in a crystal decanter in a brushed metal display case and a numbered book. The shape of the crystal decanter is modelled on a pebble, "a symbol of timelessness, like a river washing over the stones, terribly zen," confessed Maurice Hennessy.

There are only two bottles in Canada - one was purchased by Hy's Steak House in Toronto, the other was decimated by us hacks from the wine press at The Four Seasons Hotel tasting. Hennessy informed us that a man in Moscow, having tasted it, bought ten bottles!

And what did the world's most expensive cognac taste like? Wonderful, as it should. The colour was amber-orange and what strikes first is an ethereal perfume of oak, dried raisins, orange peel, coffee beans. The taste was more discreet (Maurice Hennessy referred to it as a "Protestant cognac") - light and spicy on the palate at first, it began to billow and expand in the mouth to an almond-marzipan finish. Except it didn't finish. It went on and on. And if I hadn't brushed my teeth before going to bed, it would probably still be there. Timeless, indeed.

Check them out on www.winegrowers.bc.ca.

 

 

 

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