The Sazerac Company, with ties to New Orleans dating back to the 1800s, has worked with a number of archivists to thoroughly research its connection to France and the Sazerac family, which dates back to the 1630s. Almost 400 years ago, the Sazerac family had established vineyards and a distillery in the Cognac region. In 1782, Bernard Sazerac de Forge then founded the Cognac House that bears his name, bringing together under a single commercial banner his family’s long-standing but disparate vineyard holdings and distilleries. In celebration of this historical finding and the 2016 acquisition of Sazerac’s own cognac estate and distillery, the Sazerac Company is relaunching Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac exclusively at the Sazerac House in New Orleans, which will open on October 2nd, 2019.
The Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac blend includes cognacs made from a number of old and rare native grape varieties, providing the unique opportunity to enjoy cognac as it was 150 years ago prior to the Phylloxera epidemic that forever changed the cognac making process. Befitting its 19th century character and blend of grapes, it stands apart from most of today's cognac offerings. Rich and floral, it is distinctly creamy in texture, showing hints of exotic spice on the palate, with a long, soft finish and a hint of natural sweetness. Non chill-filtered to preserve the mouth-feel and full depth of flavor, Finest Original is presented at 94 proof to reveal its aromatic characteristics at its best.
Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac was created through a collaboration of Sazerac’s best blenders and distillers, including Clive Carpenter, an industry veteran who spent his entire career working with cognac, Sazerac Master Blender Drew Mayville, who was the last master blender under the Seagram dynasty, and Master Distiller Brian Prewitt, who brings his years of experience working with brandy in California before coming to Sazerac.
“Throughout the process of blending the new Sazerac de Forge & Fils ‘Finest Original’ Cognac, we looked to the original Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac for inspiration. The original cognacs were mostly blended using native grape varieties, including Folle Blanche and Colombard. But afterwards, and still to this day, the vast majority of cognacs are made from a single grape variety - Ugni Blanc - the grape that recovered from the late-1800s Phylloxera epidemic most readily,” said Clive Carpenter, general manager of Domaine Sazerac de Segonzac. “Our blend returns as closely as possible to the original methods of making cognac and contains cognacs from as young as seven years old, bringing freshness and delicacy, to some which date from the 1960s, adding their powerful, rich aromas. It possesses a character and complexity that is almost impossible to achieve using a single variety of grape.”
The Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac has its roots in the original Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac, part of the illustrious 17th, 18th and 19th century Sazerac family business empire which included a cognac house, an iron foundry, paper-mills and pottery-making. Each of these businesses were history-making because of the Sazerac de Forge family – the U.S. Revolutionary Navy was armed with Sazerac provided cannons, the Tsars of Russia were able to print their bank notes on Sazerac made paper, the proprietary color “Sazerac Blue,” prominently featured on the new cognac package, was found on chinaware shipped worldwide, and the original Sazerac Cocktail made with Sazerac Cognac was sipped in coffee houses around New Orleans. Ironically, the original Sazerac Coffee House was located a mere 350 yards from the new Sazerac House, located on Canal and Magazine Street in New Orleans.
Indeed, by 1833 Sazerac de Forge & Fils was listed among the top six cognac producers in the world and by the mid-1800s it would be available on every continent. Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac continued to grow until the catastrophic Phylloxera blight wiped out 85% of the grapevines in France in the final quarter of the century. As a result, supplies of cognac became increasingly rare and many producers disappeared completely.
Today, the descendants of Bernard Sazerac still live in the paper-mill on the estate he purchased in 1781 in the hamlet of Forge, situated just a few kilometers from Angoulême at Mouthiers-sur-Boëme. It was the purchase of this estate that entitled Bernard Sazerac to add the noble suffix “de Forge” to his name; the property’s splendid 60 acre gardens – granted “Jardin Remarquable” status by the French Ministry of Culture - are now open to the public.
Bernard’s paper-mill with its water wheel can be seen on the label of Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac. Each bottle is adorned with a blue ribbon – a tribute to the creation of the unique “Sazerac Blue” color by the family.
Sazerac de Forge & Fils “Finest Original” Cognac is available exclusively at Sazerac House in New Orleans at a retail price of $129.99 for a 750 mL. It will be available in limited markets, both domestically and globally, starting in Spring 2020.