Artistry, Passion, and Time: This is what every Heavenly Spirits supplier puts into their products. In June, Christine, four members of our sales team, and I had the pleasure of visiting with twelve exceptional, family-run businesses to get an in-depth look at how they do what they do. We started the tour in Normandy, visiting with Calvados Roger Groult and Calvados Claque Pepin respectively. Nine days later we finished our tour in the Gascony region with visits to Armagnac Artez, Dartigalongue and Delord. In between, we visited with the makers of ArmoriK Single Malt Whisky, Jahiot Creme de Cassis, and Domaine Magnaut, as well as Cognacs: Normandin-Mercier, Jean Fillioux, and Du Peyrat. Plus, there were several other surprise stops along the way.
A Team Tour Travel Diary
Christine and I arrived in Paris three days before the team, mostly so we could acclimate to the time change and the new “buy-back” touring van we would be driving, but it was also so that we could spend a day with our sons, Austin and Keenan. Austin now lives in Versailles and we hadn't hung-out together as a family since Christmas. We ended up spending our day together visiting Claude Monet's garden at Giverny. French Art is something I have always admired. Whether it is in the form of fine paintings or fine spirits, the French always seem to strive to attain a universal quality grounded in nature. Despite temperatures in the high 30s Celsius (100 F) we had an enjoyable day walking, talking, eating and laughing together in Claude Monet’s house and garden. In retrospect, learning about this French artist’s art and his passionate expressions of life was a perfect way to prepare ourselves for the tour we were about to embark on.
Roger Groult Calvados Pays d'Auge
Day one of the Heavenly Spirits Team Tour began on Thursday morning, June 22, when the team arrived at CDG airport in Paris. Carlos flew in from California, arriving the night before, while Naomi, Paul and Moe came straight from Boston. Christine and I picked them up in our brand-new, Peugeot Expert, 8-passenger touring van and drove directly to Normandy, where we visited the historic family farm and distillery of Calvados Roger Groult. Annie Daireaux was our guide, as Jean-Roger was away at a VinExpo-related meeting. Cooler than the day before, the weather conditions were ideal for a long and detailed visit of the property.
We started the tour by seeing the Calvados production facilities, including a large open area that later in the season would be loaded with heaping piles of ripe apples ready to be turned into the cider that would then be aged and eventually distilled into calvados eau de vie. We then ventured into the amazing aromatic cellars of Calvados Roger Groult, each one a distinctive legacy left by a preceding generation of the Groult family. We started with the largest and most recent cellar built by Jean-Roger's father, Jean-Pierre, and worked our way back to the oldest cellar, created in the late 1800s by Pierre Groult. The musty scents of angel share calvados inhabiting this cellar were mesmerizing. You could literally feel the presence of ancient spirits past. Our next stop was a visit to the distilling room. Groult is one of the few distillers of any type still using wood to heat their two, very small, hard-working stills. I remember from a previous visit during the distillation season what an amazingly sensorial process it is, when the stills run continuously through the cold night, tended by a single dedicated distiller, and the baked apple and toasted wood smells mingle and fill the air.
Of course at the end of the tour, we found ourselves in the tasting room, where an exciting surprise that Jean-Roger had been working on awaited us: three new expressions of calvados, each one finished in a different type of oak barrel: Sherry, Jurançon and the one that I think was my top favorite, ArmoriK whiskey from the Warenghem distillery, where we would be visiting the next day. While Jean-Roger’s experiments were clearly a great success, we will unfortunately have to wait until at least late 2018 before any bottles will be available for import to the United States.
We left Calvados Groult feeling confident that Jean-Roger, who represents the fifth generation of this storied family, is now firmly in charge and moving forward with new ideas built on traditionally-proven methods. Our continued aim will be to inform U.S. spirits consumers so they will become increasingly aware and appreciative of these great spirits, as well as the art, passion and time that goes into producing them.
The Land of Camembert
After our very informative 3 hour Calvados Groult tour and our first official visit completed, we soon realized that our crew was running on fumes due to the effects of jet-lag. With comfort in mind, we decided to stop at a grocery store to pick up some snacks and to look at what the local region had to offer. What everyone seemed to gravitate toward was the cheese and the great affordable variety that was available. It also reminded us that we were in the land of Camembert. Naturally, we picked up a few samples along with some fresh baguettes and some wine. Next thing you know, everyone was wide awake and we were parked in front of the official Camembert Visitors Station eating our cheese and restoring ourselves for the final drive to our hotel.
La Table de Catherine
After another hour in the car we were all starting to fade again. When we finally arrived at our hotel, Le Faisan Doré, I’m sure most of the crew just couldn’t wait to crawl into their beds. But wait, there was more! This little hotel also happened to be a highly-regarded culinary destination that we intentionally traveled out of our way to get to, because Christine had made reservations to dine.
The name of the restaurant is “La Table de Catherine,” and they were expecting us. We were given twenty minutes to check into our rooms and freshen up before meeting in the back garden for an aperitif alfresco. It was clear, this was a family-run business and everyone chipped in to help, including the polite young man who took our aperitif orders in the garden. Back inside, the outstanding dinner was prepared by Catherine herself and served in combination with her husband Philippe. Without going into all the delicious details here, I can say clearly that each of us was very satisfied with our dinner and went back to our rooms content and now, more than ever, ready to sleep.
Claque-Pepin Calvados & Cider
Day two, part 1 - We visited with Benoit and Sandrine Louvet and their 4 daughters. They are the producers of Claque-Pepin Calvados and Cider. Benoit Louvet grows apples and pears but also buys from a few local growers, especially in the Domfrontais, an area he loves. After he makes his cider, an itinerant distiller comes to the farm to distill Benoit’s ciders to his specifications.
The property is located in the Normandy region, nestled between the Domfrontais and the Pays d'Auge. The pair of large 17th century stone buildings was originally the support farm for the neighboring ancient Chateau de Serans. We arrived the morning after the oldest daughter's graduation party and the backyard was dotted with tents, as many of her friends had stayed over. Despite the full-house (or full-yard), Sandrine and Benoit made us feel right at home, offering us a tasty lunch when our tour and note-taking session was complete. It was during the lunch that we had the opportunity to taste the delicious Poiré as well as the Pommeau. Our whole team agreed this was something we wanted to bring back home.
It was a great pleasure spending time with this young family-owned company that seems motivated by a love and passion for the land they live on and the products they produce. We expect they will continue to build on an already incredible range of ciders and calvados, most of it organically grown, some of them already certified organic! `We look forward to introducing them to more and more markets in the USA.
Armorik Single Malt Breton Whiskies
Day two, part 2 - After a great morning in Calvados, we headed our van toward Brittany and looked forward to a visit with our good friend David Roussier at the Warenghem Distillery, makers of the oldest and best-tasting French made whisky, ArmoriK Breton single malt. We arrived in late afternoon, allowing us time for a full tour of the facilities and ample time for a tasting. We began in the Warenghem offices where we had the opportunity to meet some of the staff, including Erwan, the new Cellar Master, and Clemence, who is in charge of the European market. From there we walked over to the impressive gift-shop and tasting room, just as a large tour bus from Germany was pulling in. Apparently this is a favorite stop for these European tour groups, especially in the summer time. After giving the Germans a head-start on the guided tour, David walked us through the entire operation. Paul Scott, who is rather knowledgeable on whiskies and a great fan and promoter of ArmoriK, asked most of the questions on the mash making and distilling processes. He and the rest of the team took plenty of notes. Our next stop was the ageing cellars, where I was happily surprised to see a drastic increase in stocks with casks stored five high and a range of experimental finishes in the works. After a look at the bottling and shipping departments, we ended up in a meeting room where David had prepared five items for tasting. Each one was a winner, particularly a certain version of Rye Whisky and a couple of single malts that were nicely peated. While I can’t give away all the details just yet, we were very impressed with the future products and projects in the works for Warenghem.
As it happened to be my birthday, David invited us all over to the port of Lannion, where we checked in to our hotel and had an amazing seafood dinner in a restaurant overlooking the picturesque port.
We are happy to report that Warenghem Distillery seems to be entering a very dynamic stage in its storied history. It is extremely well-managed and well-positioned for even more great things to come. The challenge for us remains to find the best ways to connect with American consumers in a crowded whisky market so they can see for themselves what a truly great range of whiskies ArmoriK produces.
A Weekend in La Rochelle
Day 3, Saturday the 24th was spent driving from Brittany to La Rochelle, Christine's hometown. Part of the Bois Ordinaire cognac designation, La Rochelle is also known for its sea salt and outstanding seafood, and it boasts the largest pleasure sailing port in Europe. This was the longest leg of our trip without a distillery visit, but we did our best to make the drive interesting with several stops along the way, including a spontaneous picnic with breads, cheeses and charcuterie purchased at a small village outdoor market. Once we arrived in La Rochelle, the team was given the evening to themselves so they could explore the famous fortified medieval port town and make discoveries of their own.
Day 4, Sunday, June 25th - The Heavenly Team was invited for a magnificent back-yard Sunday lunch at the house of Cognac Normandin-Mercier. The menu included La Rochelle oysters, bar-b-que meats and local organic wines from the Charente Maritime. Our visit also included a tour around the family estate. We even had the pleasure of meeting Edouard’s wife Laure as well as his mother and father, Jean-Marie who joined us for the dejeuner. The lunch was delicious, especially the special chocolate covered desert made by Edouard’s mother.
The Normandin-Mercier family has been making, blending, aging and exporting cognac for five generations, dating back to 1872. The estate actually dates back to the 17th century. During the tour, we visited the historic old distillery room which is no longer in operation but now serves as a family museum and tasting room. Edouard also took us to the deepest part of his cellars, where even Christine and I had never been; to show us a room he was restoring to become the cellar’s “paradise.” In the bottling room we had a look at some exciting new product ideas still being perfected, and he gave us a sneak peak at this year’s special Christmas Cognac. It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon in June and a most enjoyable time was truly had by all.
Distillerie Du Peyrat Organic Cognac
Day 6 - part 1 (Monday, June 26) - Our Heavenly Team Tour rendevoused early morning with Jean-Francois Rault in a quaint village South of Cognac where he cellars a large part of his cognacs. We tasted a small range of cask-strength cognacs right out of the barrels to understand the impact of the wood during the different phases of the aging process.
Around noon, we drove back to Du Peyrat's property in Houlette, North of Cognac, in the Fins Bois area , where we were greeted by Jean-Francois’ wife Sonia and their son, Guillaume. We learned that Guillaume had stepped down from his position at an architectural firm and made the commitment to help his father manage the distillery, representing the sixth generation to carry on the tradition. Sonia was also celebrating her first day of retirement and an opportunity to transition from a long career in education. She is looking forward to further develop her skills as a painter.
Jean-Francois gave our team a complete rundown on his pioneering methods of organic farming, as well as his family’s long history of distilling for some of the bigger Cognac houses. Back at the distillery, we tasted a 1948 vintage, 100% Ugni Blanc at 43% ABV and a fabulous 1929 Fin Bois from Guillaume’s great, great, grandfather, Paul Brisson. Later that evening, this bottle of 1929 was graciously delivered to our hotel room in Cognac as a gift and I am savoring a treasured taste of it now three months later, as I write the accounts of our memorable experiences. Knowing that Jean-Francois was also a true whisky fan, I shared a taste of the rare, lightly-peated ArmoriK Single Malt that David had so graciously given me as a birthday gift.
All in all, it was a fantastic visit where we learned quite a bit and enjoyed a wonderfully tasty lunch with the Rault family that featured local, smoked trout from the famous fishery of Gensac-la-Pallue. Distillerie Du Peyrat is without a doubt the best producer of organic cognac to be found, and we are very proud to be representing them to the US market as their popularity grows.
Domaine Jacquiot , Jahiot Liqueurs
Day 6 - part 2 (Monday, June 27) The team drove to Plassac, located in the Fine Bois area of Cognac, where we visited Jean-Yves and his wife Anne, and had a chance to learn all about their wonderful creme de Cassis, creme de Framboise, creme de Pêche, and creme du Mûre. We also had a look at the historic parts of his buildings, that included a room marked with a carving of a scallop shell for pilgrims on their walk to reach Santiago de Compostela. We took extensive notes as Jean-Yves explained the pros and cons of the different varietals of blackcurrants in his orchard. The day ended with a wonderful tasting of fresh grown fruits and delicious sampling of cocktails made with Jahiot cremes. It was framed by a long, late, gorgeous summer sunset.
Jean Fillioux, Grande Champagne Cognac
Day 7 - part 1 (Tuesday, June 28) - This day started with a visit to one of the most iconic, family-owned cognac houses in the region, the house of Jean Fillioux. Our stay included a complete tour of the distillery, the vineyards, the cellars and the estate. A discussion started while we were in the cellars about the impact of various types of French oak on aging and by the time we walked to the main house it transitioned into a focused class conducted by the "Magician of Aromas" himself, Pascal Fillioux. Christophe Fillioux, Pascal’s son, distiller and cellar master of the new generation, had been tending to some work in a different cellar and joined in later on.
After class, we enjoyed a wonderful dejeuner “pique nique” attended by both our companies' teams and orchestrated by Monique Fillioux. I say picnic because we had intended to eat outdoors in their beautiful gardens, but Mother Nature wouldn’t have it, so we moved inside. Gathered around a large round table, the dishes kept coming, so many in fact, that we soon could not see the table. Foie gras, rillettes, pate, saucisson, cured ham, smoked trout, home-made tabouleh, Charente melon, three types of fresh bread, all topped off with an array of mini cakes made with cognac and chocolate, each course paired with pineau, wine or cognac chosen for the occasion. Wow, what a “pique-nique” it was!
Before we finally said adieu, Paul Scott was invited by Christophe Fillioux to achieve his dream of driving a Citroen, Deux Chevaux (2CV). We laughed as Paul haltingly drove his way out of the courtyard and up the long driveway to the road.
Artez Bas Armagnac, Arvani and La Muse Verte
Day 7, part 2 (Tuesday) - After a quick look at a very old but impressive dolmen, (a type of megalithic tomb) located in the middle of a field only a few miles from the Fillioux home, we had a longer-than-expected drive from Cognac to Armagnac. Despite the two-hour delay caused by an overturned truck in Bordeaux, we arrived in time to meet and eat with Jean-Philippe and his wife Susie at Armagnac Artez. The sun hadn’t quite set, so we had an opportunity to view Jean-Philippe’s garden full of Grande Absinthe plants, of which he only uses the baby leaves to make his highly-rated Absinthe La Muse Verte. Susie had prepared a wonderfully appetizing dinner that began after we tasted several aperitif variations of the house: pastis and absinthe. The dinner started with Foie gras on toast with chutney, duck breast with ratatouille, home-made French cheesecake, and finally a tasting of a new Armagnac specialty spirit, still in the works, and a wonderful Bas Armagnacs 1995, the first ever single vintage single barrel released by Artez.
As late as it was getting, we still took time for a look at the absinthe lab where the group had a good laugh at the extra large coffee filters that are used to strain the absinthe in its final stage before bottling. If this is not "artisanal," what is? We were only 30 minutes from our hotel on a clear, but pitch-black moonless night, driving on twisted roads that were not much wider than a cow path. I was glad this was not my first time at this rodeo.
Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac
Day 8, Part 1 (Wednesday) - We started this day by visiting the oldest house of Bas Armagnac, Dartigalongue in Nogaro. Benoit Hillion, who is the current director of the house and Francoise Dartigalongue's nephew, gave us a tour of the compound, including the extensive cellars, the bottling room and finally the Armagnac museum, located in a separate historic house across the street. I have to say, the entire operation actually appears to be a working museum, but this is what you expect from the oldest producer of Bas Armagnac. Shortly after 11:00AM, (perfect time for tasting) we ended up in one of the main cellars, which has a lot of retired stills, full barrels and other equipment on display, tasting some amazing vintages with the long-time Cellar Master, Gislain. Francoise Dartigalongue, who continues to help run the company was also present and happy to share some stories with us. Here is a list of what we tasted and some of the shared comments, taken from the notes that Naomi recorded:
- Cuvee Louis Philippe – blend of 1974 and 1976 - long on palate, 1974 = 70%, tannins, structure; 1976 = 30%, fruitiness, elegance/lightness - stock will end in 2018
- 1959: 50 years in oak barrels, caramel/crème brulee on the nose, espresso-chocolate beans, leather finish, tobacco, dry - (a perfect vintage for me as it was one of my best years...)
- 1934: 60 years in oak barrels, drier nose, sweet-spice, sweet palate; This came from a barrel forgotten behind a door, according to Francoise!
- 1893: mushroom, cellars, flower notes, creaminess, coffee grounds, perfumed flowers, tobacco, dark dark chocolate, oak – 1893 was a big harvest, so many houses had it.
Afterwards we headed over to La Ferme aux Cerfs, a restaurant and game farm, where we dined on fresh stag and boar, raised on site. Before sitting down to eat we had an enjoyable hike through the preserve and had a good look at what would be on the menu. It was a good thing we did that exercise, because the menu we were offered on our return was "quite complete."
1st course: big tray of wild boar, fallow deer, and stag paté. (At this point Christine was already full.)
2nd course: braised beef stew that melted in the mouth (After this the rest of us were also full.)
3rd course: big tray of grilled steaks of wild boar, fallow deer, and stag, (one of each for each of us) plus a generous amount of gersoises sautéed potatoes.
Desert: the famous "croustade" (a flakey dough pie crust filled with apples and armagnac).
Wines: local and delicious - 2016 Cote de Gascogne Colombelle & 2012 Madiran from Chateau Bouscassé
Did we finish it? Of course we did! Did we have fun in the process? You bet!
Domaine de Magnaut – Côtes de Gascogne Wines
Day 8, part 2 (Wednesday) With our bellies full and our souls content, we headed over to our scheduled appointment with the fabulous Domaine de Magnaut, one of our Côtes de Gascogne wine suppliers. Currently, we only import a small portfolio of wine, as we are primarily French spirit specialists, but the idea was that promoting Cotes de Gascogne wines gives us another reason to talk about Armagnac. Plus, the wines are reasonably priced and beautiful.
Cecile and Jean-Marie Terraube are the owners of Domaine de Magnaut and they are passionate about the wine they make. When we showed up for our visit they gave us a tour of the winery and showed us around their vineyards. We loved how they have sample vines of all the grape varieties they use, growing right in front of the tasting room. It makes it very easy to talk about the grapes particular to the Gascony region. Examples include: Tannat, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Ugni Blanc, Baco, and Colombard.
We enjoy selling these delicious wines here in Massachusetts and we’re very proud to have them in our portfolio. We remain open to introducing them to other states that might be interested in distributing them as well.
On Becoming a Musketeer
An Unexpected Honor
Day 8, part 3 (Wednesday)
After a full and busy day of touring and tasting, we ended up in the village of Condom, where our group was led into La Table de Cordeliers, a highly-respected Michelin star restaurant, by Jerome Delord and Benoit from Dartigalongue. Once inside the front door, three mysterious gentlemen wearing blue capes essentially “ambushed” our group (in a friendly way) and then ushered us into a side room. It turned out to be a surprise induction for both Christine and myself into the La Compagnie des Mousquetaires d’Armagnac, making us official Musketeers. The ceremony was brief, where the Master of Ceremony read a short description of our backgrounds and main accomplishment of being the leading importer of Armagnac to the United States for eight years in a row. After that we were presented with a pretty snazzy blue sash, bearing a medal from the order of the Musketeers, followed by a toast with our left hands, which I of course in all the confusion got wrong. The induction was a bit of a shock and surprise, but most of all a great honor for our work in promoting Armagnac and French Gascon culture. Thank you Jerome and Benoit! The night was a treasured experience as we then made our way into the dinning room (a converted ancient chapel) and enjoyed yet another amazing meal together. We were happy to learn just two months later, Benoit was also inducted at the annual Musketeer ceremony in September, along with our good friend DG Blackburn and several other deserving devotees.
The BNIA - Bureau National Interproffesionnel de l’Armagnac
Day 9, part 1 (Thursday) After a good night’s sleep at Jerome’s house, Christine and I picked up our staff, who had the pleasure of staying at Le Castel Pierre, an amazing, recently-restored hilltop country mansion hotel in the village of Lagraulet-du-Gers. The new building has even incorporated walls from the 13th century castle that once stood there. Our team couldn’t say enough about the views, the rooms, the breakfast, the bar, and the friendly hospitality shown by owners, Celine and Julien Vernhes.
From there we headed to the village of Eauze, and began the day attending a seminar at the BNIA offices, conducted by Amanda Garnham. Amanda is an educator and I am pretty sure a former fashion model. She has worked with the Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac for many years as their Attachée de Presse. English by birth, Amanda has made Gascony her home and she clearly has a love for the region and all that it represents, which she generously shared with us. Her morning seminar was designed especially for our group as well as attendees: Jerome Delord, his office assistant, Joelle, and Benoit Hillion. The presentation started with an overview of Gascon history and the origins of Armagnac, supported by lots of relevant facts, such as the percentage of Armagnac distilleries in each designated area: 67% in Bas Armagnac, 32% in Tenareze, and only 1% in Haut. She mentioned that 10 varieties are allowed but most Armagnac is made using the top four: 55% Ugni Blanc, 35% Baco, 5% Colombard, and 5% Folle Blanche. We also learned that a particular grape variety that I was unfamiliar with, outside of the main four, seems to be having a sudden growth spurt, due to its high acid and low alcohol content. It is called Plant de Graisse, and there have even been a couple of instances of it being bottled as a single varietal. She also talked about dry as opposed to humid cellars and "angel share."
Of course this seminar also included a tasting element and in this case, it was blind, so with our group it provoked lots of speculation and surprises. One sample out of the seven that we tasted which stood out to me, turned out to be a VSOP from the Haut area made with Ugni Blanc grapes and bottled at 45% ABV. In fact several of the samples out of the seven were cask strength, but not all of them benefited from the extra alcohol content in my opinion.
Le Bar du Marché
After two hours of Amanda’s stimulating presentation and tasting, we were all ready for some food, so it was arranged that we would adjourn and walk just down the street for a light tapas style dejeune, at a recently opened bistro called “Le Bar du Marche.” A torrential rain had just slowed to a light summer shower as we made our way down the street sharing umbrellas. A table had been reserved and a dozen menu items had been ordered ahead of time. Jerome, and Christine I believe, chose a couple of wines to share and a good lunch was definitely had by all. Some of the tapas items we shared include: razor clams, escargot, smoked trout, amazing mussels, and “boeuf” tartar to name a few. The food was outstanding, the service was friendly, and the atmosphere quite convivial, yet everyone wanted to talk about the décor and the bathroom sink (industrial chic and made from a single piece of beautiful wood).
The Last Stop - Delord Bas Armagnac
Day 9, part 2 (Thursday) After this amazing morning, we headed over to Lannepax where we had a full day still ahead of us to visit with the house of Armagnac Delord. Christine and I have known the Delord family longer than any of our other producers and feel especially close to them as we have gotten to know them like family over the past twenty something years. In fact, when we first came to Lannepax to see what the company was all about, it was being run by a different set of Delord brothers, Jacques and Pierre. I remember how impressed both Christine and I were back then with the dedication, the commitment and the way the whole family worked together to run the business. We both feel very privileged to have worked with the Delords and their team as they have evolved and transitioned over the years. Despite all the challenges that family businesses like this must face, they have actually improved aspects of the business while growing it to become our largest supplier and the number one Armagnac exporter to the US. And they still always make us feel like we are part of the family.
That said, it was a real pleasure to share the last stop of our team tour with the Delord family and a full schedule was indeed planned.
We started at the offices in Lannepax, where Jerome gave us an overview of the company, before walking us through the buildings. We were soon joined by Sylvain, Jerome’s, brother and partner, who works closely with the never-really-retired Jacques to run the production side of the business while Jerome focuses on the sales, marketing and business aspects. Armagnac Delord is probably the largest business in the small town of Lannepax and it is spread out in different buildings and vineyard locations around the center. We took this opportunity to see it all, starting with the bottling line, which is not quite as simple as most others, having committed to hand sealing much of their Armagnac with wax. Jacques actually had a surprise wax finishing workshop planned for us later on, where each of us were allowed to apply the Delord seal and dip the cap in wax of their very own souvenir 200 ML bottle of 25 Year Old, hand signed by Jacques with our name on the bottle. A very cool memento indeed.
They also showed us the area where they do most of the work of blending, as well as their "paradise," where very old vintages in demijohns rest in the silent darkness.
From the main building we walked a block to see another cellar with large oak barrels used to store youngish eaux-de-vie for long-term aging, and then three more blocks to see where the “old Orthes still” resides. This particular column still is over one hundred years old and responsible for much of the world class Armagnac that we now enjoy. Across from Orthes sits "Cier", the second oldest still of the family. Further out behind the distillery building is the vinification area, with a brand new press and lots of big new stainless steel tanks to hold the wine that will eventually be distilled into Armagnac.
We have always believed that making great spirits is an art and so does the Delord family. I believe that is why they commissioned a group of young street artists to decorate one of the larger, older concrete wine tanks with a unique painting. The group did a very professional job and the resulting art work certainly stands out.
Our last stop before meeting Sylvain for a special tasting seminar was a tour of two of the Delord vineyards. Located in two completely different areas, one was in a low-lying field next to a small river and the other is very high up on a pitched hillside with a gigantic water tower nearby. No doubt each site has different advantages due to soil and sun exposure. My notes did not include all the details.
Sylvain was waiting for us when we returned. Around a large table on the top floor of the Delord offices he had set up place settings that included at least six tulip glasses, each containing a measured amount of golden Armagnac. His plan was to run us through the process of selecting the best blend for a new cask-strength Delord, while exposing us to some of the decisions that he often faces during the blending process. In short, we got to play Master Blender for an hour. It certainly was a challenging and worthwhile exercise, and one I think we all appreciated.
We finished the day with a fantastic dinner at the recently opened “La Falene Bleue” restaurant, located in Lannepax Center. The whole Delord family, including wives and children attended, and it was a wonderful way to end a very enjoyable visit and a demanding yet fruitful tour de France.
In the morning, we drove the team to the Toulouse Airport and wished them a bon voyage back to the States. We then headed back to Lannepax to collect our things and say our final good-byes to the Delords. By sheer coincidence, two of our very good industry friends, Hoke Harden and Ms Franky Franky happened to be in the area and we arranged a quick meeting at the Delord offices, where we toasted to the rest of Summer before heading back to our family’s property in La Rochelle.
All in all, it was a wonderfully educational trip for our Heavenly staff and a great opportunity for some bonding between all Heavenly factions. Many thanks to all the great family producers who make such quality products and who helped make our tour such an enjoyable experience. We look forward to continued growth as we keep working together, bringing the love and passion of French culture to the many appreciative corners of the US market. Cheers!
(Lakeville, MA) As the leading importer of Armagnac in the United States, Heavenly Spirits, a Massachusetts-based importer is accustomed to handling rare vintages, but nothing they have ever imported quite compares to their most recent shipment, which includes a single bottle of vintage Bas Armagnac distilled in 1848, and valued at over $20,000. To put that in perspective, we are talking about a brandy that was distilled one hundred and sixty-nine years ago, when the United States was only seventy-two years old, before the (so called) Civil War, before the invention of the telephone, electric light bulb, or the gas-powered automobile. It is a work of living art and a piece of French history. “We were almost too nervous to handle it while we were doing the photo shoot,” says Christine Cooney, founder and co-owner of Heavenly Spirits.” “In case you were wondering,” adds Dan Cooney, Christine’s husband and co-owner, “Yes, this Armagnac is still wonderfully drinkable.” “Someone asked us if we had the opportunity to try it, and we actually did several years ago,” says Christine. “We thought it was wonderfully intact, but joked that it might need a few more years.”
Dartigalongue, the distillers of this rare cultural artifact, is the oldest Bas Armagnac house operating in the world. They were founded in 1838, in Nogaro, France, the heart of the Bas Armagnac region. This bottle of 1848 vintage Armagnac is part of a very small cache of demi-johns that have been quietly hiding away in the Dartigalongue paradis, and the oldest known certified Armagnac in existence. The grape variety used to make this Armagnac was Folle Blanche and of course this was many years before the devastating phylloxera outbreak.
Because of its extreme rarity and age, the producer recently decided to sell no more than 1 or 2 bottles per year in the world. The last ones were sold in Sweden and in France. This year, Heavenly Spirits is the only importer so far to have been extended the privilege to purchase this 1848 vintage, and this transaction marks the only bottle ever imported to the U.S.
Other single bottles of Bas Armagnac Dartigalongue, distilled in 1893, 1900, 1918, and two bottles distilled in 1929 accompanied the 1848 vintage in the recent shipment. Each of the rare vintages comes in a specially designed, suede-lined wooden case and includes a certificate of authenticity signed by the Dartigalongue Master Distiller. Another certificate of Authenticity is issued by the BNIA, (Bureau National Interprofessionel de l’Armagnac).
This batch of extremely rare Armagnac vintages will be sold in the U.S. mostly through Binny’s Beverage Depot in Chicago, Illinois. Additional rare French spirits imported by Heavenly Spirits will be made available subject to interest and demand.
Heavenly Spirits is a leading importer of artisanal French spirits, such as Armagnac, Calvados, Cognac, whisky, gin, aperitifs and liqueurs. For the past eight years, the company has been recognized as the number one importer of Armagnac in the US, accounting for 26% of all Armagnac sold each year. Contact Christine Cooney at: Christine@heavenlyspirits.com
Artistry, Passion, and Time: these are what every Heavenly Spirits supplier put into the exceptional spirits they produce. In our new ad campaign, we illustrate this dedication in both word and image. While we have always tried to convey the authentic quality of the small-to-medium-sized family-owned producers that we represent, the difference in this new effort is in the way we show it. Instead of presenting the respective products in sharply-focused photographic images, as is commonly done, we decided to literally paint (or draw) a more authentic picture, reflective of the hand-crafted spirits that we represent.
What the viewer will see in this new campaign is an image of individual Heavenly Spirits products, rendered in a painterly illustration style, symbolizing the unique art and craft that have gone into each of the spirits we sell.
The initial concept for this campaign came about while Dan Cooney, owner, marketing director, and former college art professor was looking at some classic advertising from the 1940s, specifically that iconic French illustrator/designer, A.M. Cassandre. Dan’s intention was to impart a bit of inspired nostalgia by borrowing the look and feel of those classic French designs. After a few experimental sketches, he ended up with an illustration style that combined painting, drawing, and collage, which seemed to communicate the desired hand-crafted look.
As the concept began to take shape, the Heavenly marketing team decided to add some of that artistry and poetic license to the body copy as well, with Naomi writing a great first draft. After that, the team turned their attention to the backdrop for the bottles in the ad and tried a dozen creative options before referring again to A.M. Cassandre for inspiration. Our design intern, Emma helped develop the stylized shadows to place behind the bottles for a Cassandre-esque feel. After a dozen or more evolved iterations, Dan submitted a tight comp to the magazine, FRANCE Today, to get their reaction, and was very pleased when they said they “loved it.” Additionally, the magazine’s ad team said they wanted to consider it for a back or inside cover, adding, “archetypal French advert/products always resonate with our audience.”
So far, the reaction to the handcrafted spirit art from the ad campaign was so positive that we have started work on similar illustrations of Heavenly cocktails as well. Look for these to appear in a Heavenly Spirits Cocktail Recipe Book in the future. Cheers!
We had the pleasure and privilege to work with the French Heritage Society, Boston chapter on May 1 as they met to talk about their upcoming Fall trip to France in celebration of their 35th anniversary. The evening meeting soirée took place in an impressive brick mansion on Massachusetts Avenue, owned by Stephen and Isabelle Roy.
The evening began with a stand-up cocktail meet & greet, served with hors d'oeuvres prepared by La Voile Restaurant of Newbury Street followed by a presentation of the planned Anniversary Trip to Normandie, Paris and Compiègne by FHS Board Member Comtesse Sarah de Lencquesaing and FHS Executive Director, Jennifer Herlein. After that we adjourned to a dining room for a Heavenly Spirits sponsored tasting presentation of Calvados Roger Groult, Pays d'Auge and Claque-Pepin Cider, led by Christine Foubert Cooney . Finally, the group moved to yet another large room in the Roy's beautifully restored mansion where we were served a variety of deserts to go with the highly acclaimed Calvados Roger Groult (30 year old) XO.
The French Heritage Society, guided by the belief that the most enduring expression of a culture is to pass on its highest achievements, is dedicated to protecting the French architectural and cultural legacy both in France and the United States, with emphasis on raising funds for preservation, restoration and education. French Heritage Society is a non-profit American organization created in 1982 that includes 10 chapters in the US and one in France.
This November we held our first ever portfolio tasting at the New Bedford Art Museum in New Bedford, MA. Part educational tasting, part fundraiser, mostly party, we're pleased to say that the night turned out very well. The museum's galleries were packed with friends, family, and newbies to the Heavenly sphere, mingling, conversing, eating, and of course, tasting our French wines and spirits.
We poured over 60 of our award-winning products from our nearly 20 independent, family-owned producers, including Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, whisky, gin, wine, liqueurs, absinthe, and aperitifs.
We had lively music from Bertrand Laurence and Menége à Trois, which set the festive atmosphere. Our restaurant partners, Cork, Emma Jeans, Kyler's Catch and EJ's filled the museum space with delectable aromas and delicious small bites. Christine's spread of French cheese (45 lbs of it!), along with a selection of fresh French breads, was a sight to behold! Rory, bar manager at La Voile in Boston, was on hand with two wonderful cocktail creations, though regrettably without his customary beret. Our thanks to our friends, family, and Heavenly team members who staffed the tasting tables and were ready to answer questions and educate our guests about our French spirits. We couldn't have pulled it off without their hard work.
Our graphic design intern, Emma, who took photos and videos of the event, put together a video slideshow for us below. Thanks to everyone who came out and we can't wait to do this again next year!
Heavenly Spirits is pleased to announce a first in the whisky market: a French whisky double matured in refill ex-bourbon casks and ex-Armagnac barrels. This is the first whisky in the world that we know of to have an Armagnac cask maturation. The cask used (No. 8151) came from the oldest Bas Armagnac producing house, Armagnac Dartigalongue, who happens to be another proud member of the Heavenly Spirits portfolio team.
This collaboration between Armorik and Dartigalongue came about in part due to our desire at Heavenly Spirits to have a French whisky matured in Armagnac barrels. The suggestion was given and the rest is history. The unique label design melds a lightly-depicted antique photo of the Dartigalongue distillery's yard with the classic Armorik Breton dragon logo.
The whisky was matured for 3 years in a refilled bourbon cask and spent an additional 2 years in the Dartigalongue Armagnac cask.
Tasting notes from the Director of Warenghem Distillery, David Roussier:
Color: Copper ABV: 46%
Nose: Nice aromatic intensity. At first some lemon notes and vanilla, followed by ripe fruits (Mirabelle plums) and elegant oaky notes. Licorice, with soft notes of pastry with almonds.
Palate: Intense aromas of citrus, followed by a nice roundness and nice volume. Elegant woodiness enhanced by peppery and fruity (peach) notes. Long and spicy finish.
About the Houses:
The Warenghem distillery located in Lannion, Brittany has been making high quality liqueurs and spirits for over 100 years. In 1900, Leon Warenghem created his first product, the Elixir d’Armorique, a distillate of 35 plants which won awards at international exhibitions in 1902. 30 years ago, Warenghem was the first and only distillery to ever produce double distilled single malt whisky in France and today it remains the most renowned.
The oldest house in Bas Armagnac, the Dartigalongue family began to distill in 1813. In 1838, Pascal Dartigalongue founded the first Maison d'Armagnac in Nogaro, the heart of the Bas Armagnac region. In 1870, his son Joseph acquired a large vineyard in Salles d'Armagnac near Nogaro. In 1978, his great grandson Pierre Dartigalongue created his Museum in Nogaro which houses all the archives of Maison D'Armagnac, including all correspondence since 1838 and a fascinating collection of Vieux Armagnacs in their original bottles, dated 1829, 1848, 1852, 1870, and 1900. Today, Dartigalongue is regarded as one of the leading producers of high quality Armagnac.
This year marks the seventh year in a row that Heavenly Spirits has participated in The Inland Seafood/Quality Wine & Spirits Annual Food & Wine Experience. They have certainly figured out a winning formula, as the overall experience has not changed much in all that time. Of course, how can you go wrong by staging it in a great city like Atlanta, gathering around fifty of the finest seafood suppliers on the Atlantic coast along with a hundred or so different wine and spirits suppliers from around the world, and ask them all to bring their best samples to taste? Add some pretty good live music, invite chefs, restaurateurs, caterers, grocers, retail wine & spirits store owners from the greater Georgia area to come by, hang out and taste quality for six hours straight, and it has to be a successful good time.
As usual, we had a table packed full of our award-winning French products, including some of our super stars like the Marie Duffau line, a couple Dartigalongue Armagnacs, a Jean Fillioux Cognac, a Crème de Cassis from Jules Theuriet, and our Absinthe La Muse Verte. This year we also had the pleasure of introducing Du Peyrat Organic Cognac for the first time to Atlanta and it was a big hit.
Each year, we fly in to Atlanta the night before the event, go to the before-party held at the Quality warehouse/offices, attend the event, and then find a good place to eat in Atlanta before taking off the next morning. This year we ended up at a bar and restaurant by the name of Empire State South. It turns out they carry several of our Heavenly Spirits products and they were recommended by a half dozen attendees. The experience did not disappoint.
After a short Uber ride, we sat ourselves directly at the bar and started with cocktails; CC ordered the “Love Shack” featuring gin, ginger, and passion fruit, and I had the “Two World Hero,” which featured cognac, rye, and sweet vermouth. Both were delicious and just what the Doctor ordered after a long day. We then chose a range of tapas-style vittles from the menu, including: the ESS Charcuterie tray, Baby Carrots, the “Farm Egg” recommended by all, and a Hanger Steak. To accompany our feast we both ordered a glass of Minerva, a good value red wine from the Southwest of France that we used to buy frequently as our house wine when we were living in Saint-Jean-de-Liversay, near La Rochelle. This particular one, a 1913 from Chateau d'Oupia was quite good and brought back fond memories. All in all, it was a great experience and a good way to close out another busy business road trip in Atlanta.
By Paul Scott
When asked to represent the U.S. market’s most beloved Armagnac house, Armagnac Delord, during "The Greatest Brandy Category Is…” seminar at Tales of the Cocktail 2016 in New Orleans, I obviously accepted!
To be involved in such a seminar, presented by some of the USA’s most recognized personalities in the beverage industry was, at the very least, an exciting prospect. And of course a visit to New Orleans couldn't be refused, as it would be my first.
I decided to begin my stay familiarizing myself with the local area, locating the venues, and getting started on networking. Very quickly I noticed that Tales of the Cocktail had drawn large numbers of industry professionals from all over the USA and the world. I especially noticed quite a lot of Australians, many residing in the USA and working in the industry I later found out as bartenders, mixologists and retail clerks. Continuing my walk through the French Quarter, it felt necessary to seize the opportunity to enjoy a Sazerac! I found the level of skill, knowledge, and attention to detail displayed by the bar workers throughout the French Quarter to rival that of the most well-known and respected cocktail establishments around the nation. In the French Quarter, the detail-oriented mixology was apparent in almost every bar I visited (and there were several).
By 6 pm Bourbon Street had begun to liven up – a little too lively for my sedate middle age – so I headed to a little cocktail lounge and Jazz Bar, RFs, located next to my Hotel on Dauphine Street, one block away from Bourbon, but a world apart in character. RFs or Richard Fiskes is a New Orleans classic. The evening was spent talking cocktails with the Manager, Mackenzie, and proprietor, Andrew, whilst enjoying the head-turning jazz band playing on stage, the Meghan Stewart Quartet. At some point I found myself giving an impromptu Armagnac seminar at RFs. Future trips to NOLA will see RFs as a first port of call to enjoy some Delord Armagnac-based cocktails!
On to the Seminar!
The seminar was held at the Fleur-de-Lis suite at the Royal Sonesta Hotel and set up much like a political debate, a little tongue-in-cheek event moderated by Derek Brown of Drink Company and Columbia Room fame. The rules were set, cheering was encouraged, as well as clapping, stomping, whooping and chanting, and why not? Even we serious, high-browed brandy enthusiasts need a little whooping and chanting on occasion.
Each brandy category was well-defended by their spokesperson.
Cognac was represented and defended by Brandy Rand, Vice President of U.S. Marketing and Business Development at The IWSR, an international beverage alcohol research firm. Her defense of her category looked at the strict controls put in place in regard to the production of Cognac, combined with U.S. sales figures. Her most memorable tactic, however, was to attempt to tear down the other categories: Armagnac is not well known (it is known by the Best!); American Brandy lacks regulation and you don't know what you're going to get; and Brandy de Jerez is merely a byproduct of the Sherry industry. Lots of fun, a little real information, and with a “Mean Girls” attitude!
Jackson Cannon, Bar Director, Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar Owner/Bartender, The Hawthorne represented Armagnac. Jackson defended his category with quiet confidence providing detailed information into the production and aging of Armagnac, terroir, and explanations of the three Armagnac Crus.
JP Fetherston, Head Bar Manager, Drink Company defended Brandy de Jerez. He delved less into sales figures, manufacture or historical significance. His presentation was simply based on the product, how it tastes, how it can be used, and how aging improves it.
Dan Farber, Founder/Distiller, Osocalis Distillery, who defended American Brandy, offered an impassioned defense based on exciting innovations that are being explored by U.S. Brandy producers, which may not be possible elsewhere due to strict regulation. His defense of American Brandies went onward to highlight the qualities of all three other categories.
One of the most notable questions asked by the Moderator was:
If you were not representing your category, then which brandy would you rather be representing?
Of the four defenders – one of whom who was already defending Armagnac – one declined to answer, and the other two chose… Armagnac! So of the 3 available panel votes, 2 voted for Armagnac and 1 abstained, making Armagnac the panel winner.
The crowd however voted by “Noiseometer,” and by virtue of making a lot of noise, chose the patriotic favorite, American Brandy.
To each his own, but in this case I say, who wants to follow the crowd?
Vanilla might be one of the most difficult flavors to capture. An essential flavor not only in baking, but in many great cocktails, vanilla-flavored products are often too sweet or too "fake" tasting. Navan liqueur developed a dedicated following during its tenure, and its absence has been keenly felt.
Being the enthusiastic importers of Armagnac that we are, a few years ago we decided to address this desire for a naturally-flavored, sweet but not cloyingly so, vanilla brandy liqueur. Together with one of our producers, Artez, we created Artez Arvani to fill that need.
Artez Arvani is made from 100% Madagascar vanilla beans, which are macerated in blanche (white) Armagnac. The color of Artez Arvani comes entirely from this maceration. Sugar is then added to create a liqueur perfect for mixing into cocktails, or even to be served on its own.
Artez Arvani is a true artisanal liqueur. It is produced on a 30 acre estate in the Bas Armagnac region of France, in an area known as the First Cru.
The house also crafts rare single varietal Armagnacs, which utilize only one grape: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, or Baco; the renowned La Muse Verte Absinthe and Pastis, made according to traditional family recipes; and a lovely pear eau de vie.
As most of you know, we take our product sourcing very seriously. In the case of Rhum, we have been actively seeking to discover the best quality Agricole Rhum available to add to our portfolio for U.S. representation. With that goal in mind we traveled to the French island of Martinique for a week of research and development. We had an amazing time! It was the beginning of harvest season and we were able to visit five of the seven distilleries on the island, as well as several historic museums. We spent four full hours at one of these amazing distilleries and it was the highlight of our week, as we learned a great deal about the Martinique Rhum industry and tasted many fine spirits.
While I can't name names at this time, we are very excited about the possibilities of working with some very fine producers in the not-too-distant future.
For those of you who are not familiar with Martinique agricole rhum, let me provide you a brief description: Rhum agricole (French pronunciation: [ʁɔm aɡʁikɔl]) is the French term for cane juice rhum, a style of rhum originally distilled in the French Caribbean islands from freshly-squeezed sugar cane juice rather than molasses. When France colonized some of the Caribbean islands, like Guadeloupe, Haiti and Martinique, they divided rum into two subcategories, rum industriel (rums made from molasses) and rhum agricole (rums made from pressed sugarcane juice) which accounts for only around 1 - 2% of all rums produced in the world. Rhum made from sugarcane juice has a different flavor and aroma profile from other rums, for real connoisseurs it is that unique and individual sense of terrior that makes rhum stand apart from ordinary rum. The rhum agricoles produced on the island of Martinique have achieved French A.O.C. status — the only rums in the world to do so.
To be labeled "AOC Martinique Rhum agricole" rum has to be produced from cane grown in an area authorized by the AOC decree. Currently, only the territories of the following 23 municipalities of Martinique are allowed for the cultivation of sugarcane intended for the production of AOC Martinique rum:
Since the AOC changed some of the rules a few years ago, it is no longer permitted to bottle Martinique Rhum that has been aged somewhere other than Martinique. So we have been actively looking to replace our highly-awarded Rum Chauffe Coeur 7 years old. This rhum had a great story;
it was a special limited selection that was brought in bulk from Martinique to the mainland France many years ago and it was put to age in the cellars of the original owner, who had created the brand name Chauffe Coeur after World War II. This rhum was then bottled in mainland France and exported to us in the US. Then we ran out…..! In the meantime, 2 things happened:
First, the AOC law changed and mandated that all Martinique aged rhums be bottled in Martinique
and second, Martinique rhums became a rare commodity and the distilleries were only interested in selling their rhum under their own labels.
In any case, I imagine the dozen or so bottles that remain will become increasingly valuable collector's items. Here is a list of awards earned by the Chauffe Coeur Rhum Vieux:
Many American rum drinkers are still somewhat unfamiliar with this superb quality style of rhum, made from pure fresh pressed sugar cane. To those who have only tasted molasses based rum from the big industrial producers, rhum agricole can be an acquired taste. But once you develop an appreciation for the fresh sweet grassy notes in the unaged versions, as well as the fine layered complexity of the older ones, it is easy to become a dedicated fan. Some of the master blenders that we spoke with are true artists dedicated to their craft in much the same way as the Master Blenders of fine cognac, whisky and armagnac.
In addition to our work on Martinique, we enjoyed perfect 85 degree weather, gorgeous beaches, and wonderful seafood meals during our week long stay. We also drove up and down the many hills and along the never-ending shoreline as we attempted to see as much of the island as possible. All in all our visit to Martinique was a fantastic experience. We left the island with very high hopes that we will be returning again and that we will soon be sharing some of these exceptional Martinique masterpieces with our U.S. distribution networks and you.
Today is February 2nd. In France it is always the day we celebrate "the Chandeleur." Traditionally, the best way to celebrate is by making and eating crepes.
In Roman times, this day was the celebration of the God, Pan, protector of the shepherds and the herds. The Romans would spend the night walking around town with "chandelles", the French word for big torches, and that is where the name Chandeleur comes from. A tradition came later that if you made crepes that day with the wheat harvested in the fall, it would ensure that the wheat that was stocked would not rot for the rest of the season, securing prosperity until next harvest.
A few other rituals came along over the centuries, but today, the only one that remains is to make crepes on the day of the Chandeleur, and this is a wonderful thing, because crêpes are sooooooo good! With this in mind, I am sharing my own recipe. Enjoy!
Christine's French Dessert Crêpe Recipe:
4 oz. plain flour
1 level tbsp. sugar
1 egg and 1 yolk
1 1/4 cups liquid (equal parts milk and water mixed)
1 tbsp. melted butter
1 tbsp. of Cognac
Put the flour in a large bowl, make a hole in the middle, add sugar, eggs and the milk/water mix. Stir with a wire whisk until smooth. Let the batter rest for 1 hour. Just before using, stir in the melted butter and Cognac.
Put a crepe pan (or flat frying non-stick pan) on medium/high heat, coat it with butter, and when butter sizzles, add some batter to make a wafer thin crepe. Turn down heat to medium, cook 1 minute then flip the crepe over, cook another minute.
Put the crepe on a plate, add sugar, jam, Nutella, Chantilly, or chestnut cream, or a combination of these. Roll the crepe and indulge!
Kids will enjoy these treats with a glass of milk, but the adults should definitely go for our all-natural French cider, Claque Pepin from Normandy!
The Heavenly Spirits' exceptional French spirits' portfolio just got even better with the addition of "Diplôme Dry Gin," an amazingly good and historic blend from the city of Dijon, France. Already catching on in Japan, Australia, Canada and much of Europe, Diplôme will make its debut in the U.S. in February, 2016, launching first in Boston, New York, and Chicago.
The original 1945 recipe for Diplôme was perfected during WWII and soon became the official gin for the American Army stationed throughout Europe. Diplôme Dry Gin is a unique French made “London Dry" style Gin, created, and distilled in Dijon, a city known and respected worldwide for its culture and fine cuisine.
The recipe for Diplôme Dry Gin is one of the oldest in France.
Using natural botanicals sourced from Europe and Morocco, Diplôme Dry Gin is made from a selection of the finest juniper berries, coriander, whole lemons, orange peel, angelica, saffron, iris root and fennel seed available. With an ABV of 44%, Diplôme Dry Gin is perfect for use in gin based cocktails, while it is also one of those rare gins that can be enjoyed straight up chilled or on ice.
Each sip of Diplôme Dry Gin begins with a lively scent of perfumed citrus before revealing a complex layering of exotic spices, dark chocolate, lavender and zesty grapefruit, all delivered through a velvety texture and a lengthy finish.
Samples will soon be going out to selected spirits reviewers across the country. Our expectation is that they will be as enthralled as we have been with the quality and taste of this superb spirit. With an MSRP of $36.00 Diplôme Gin will make an exciting addition to anyone's top shelf collection of spirits. For more information and some exciting new cocktail recipes, visit Diplôme Gin.
With the Holiday season in full swing and a two full weeks of shopping until Christmas, we thought it would be a great time to feature some of the more rare and sumptuous treats from the amazing artisanal producers we represent. Some of these items are in very limited supply and others might need special shipping arrangements to arrive in time for Christmas. In any case, they are all masterfully-made products by dedicated, family-owned distilleries and they would make uniquely wonderful gifts any time of year to that certain someone who really knows their spirits. If you are interested in purchasing any one of these items please contact us at (508) 947-9973 as soon as possible and we will do our very best satisfy the request(s).
All the Best to you this Holiday season from all of us here at Heavenly Spirits!
This Petite Champagne originates from an old family reserve handed down from father to son beginning with the house's creation in 1872 by Edouard Normandin's great, great grandfather, Jules Normandin.
This special and rare cuvee has been selected and bottled especially for Christmas 2015 from oak cask #8007 and is limited to a total of 240 bottles. It has been aged for 17 years and bottled at cask strength 45% ABV. Each bottle is hand numbered.
Introduced by request to only two markets late in 2015, we hope to make it available to more states in 2016.
Jean Fillioux Reserve Familiale
50 years old
This exceptional cognac is in itself a journey in the infinite world of aromas and flavors; everything is there incessantly tickling your taste buds: dried, candied fruit, rich rancio, leather, cigar box, toasted cocoa bean, vanilla and toffee. The finish is silky, with notes of honeyed and peppery spices.
5 stars "Highest Recommendation”
"A Cognac to savour over a long time, sip by sip, eyes closed. Pure pleasure!"
With Gift Box:
"Vintages are typical in Armagnac and Dartigalongue has an impressive collection with most years and even some from 1829. The best sommeliers in the world choose Dartigalongue and dinners are regularly built around their Armagnacs. Menus from top Parisien establishments, including the Moulin Rouge, adorn the walls of the company’s museum that also boasts an awe inspiring number of documents from the beginning of the company’s creation." - Justin Postlethwaite, French Entree
*Added option, original, hand-painted gift box, signed and custom-dedicated by French artist, Philippe, Lejeune. Contact us for more details on availability and cost. (Example shown in photo)
Calvados Roger Groult
Offered by fifth generation, Jean-Roger Groult, from the cellar of second generation, Pierre Groult, this gem will be the preferred partner of those who love rare woody spirits and cigars. Full of rancio, yet soft in the mouth with an intense lingering aromatic persistence. Outstanding!
Minimum 50 years
with Wood Box
ArmoriK Single Malt Connoisseur's Collection, 2005 Bourbon Cask, Barrel #4764
Armorik produces classic whiskies with pinpoint precision. This exclusive single cask was matured in Bourbon Casks.
Tasting Notes from Astor Wines:
This hand selected single cask will put to bed any questions you may have about whether great single malt can be made anywhere besides Scotland. We have been singing the praises of this 100-plus-year-old distillery for a while now and the heritage of this whiskey shines through in this excellent 2005 vintage single barrel aged exclusively in a first fill Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel for nine years. The nose is both exuberant and harmonious. Fruit, malt, savory notes, and spice all play a part here to bewildering effect. Elegance reigns on the palate where the brighter aromas turn to satin and mellow out as they linger on the finish. One of the best whiskies on the shelf. What are you waiting for?
Jerome and Sylvain Delord have established a reputation for quality that is unsurpassed. Owners of a prime 20 hectare vineyard in the heart of the Bas Armagnac, (widely known as the 1st Cru), they have been distilling, ageing and blending their eaux-de-vie the exact same way their great-grandfather did. Their ageing cellars contain Armagnacs dating back to 1904.
The 1981 vintage is particularly fantastic!
Chairman's Trophy. 97 points.
"Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation"
Ultimate Spirits Challenge, 2013
GOLD medal and WINNER of President Republic Prize
(Best Armagnac of the competition).
Concours des Grandes Eaux de Vie d’Armagnac, 2008
*Added option, original, hand-painted gift box, signed and custom-dedicated by French artist, Philippe, Lejeune. Contact us for more details on availability and cost.
Distillerie Du Peyrat
Organic Cognac XO
The Distillerie du Peyrat has distilled Cognacs for several decades but the family has been present as distillers in the Charentes region since 1705. Distillerie du Peyrat produces exclusively 100% organic Cognacs. Located in a small village 10km East of Cognac on the banks of a river, du Peyrat produces, distills and ages their eaux de vie with the respect of the environment and the intense expression of the terroir.
A minimum of 15 years old. 375mL decanter
“...this is a beauty, rich in Sherry and birch beer-like notes, dappled with cinnamon and allspice. The dry finish suggests accents of cocoa and leather.” - Wine Enthusiast Magazine
"97 points - This is a beauty!" Wine Enthusiast Magazine, 2013
Thanksgiving is the ideal holiday meal to introduce "Le Trou Normand," or "the Normand hole." France’s contributions to the detailed rituals of authentic dining are, of course, legendary. Much of that attention to detail has to do with methodical planning for proper digestion of the meal through the order and the volume of which the elements are consumed. “Le Trou Normand” is a perfect example of how ritual and method work to increase one’s enjoyment.
Translated as “the Normand hole,” Le Trou Normand is usually served between courses of a large and long banquet type meal. The purpose (and there is always a purpose for everything at the French table) of this nifty little interlude is to both cleanse the palate from the previous course(s) and make more room for the rest of the meal. The palate cleansing comes by way of a generous tablespoonful of young, or even un-aged calvados in combination with a small scoop of light apple or pear sorbet that completely refreshes the atmosphere of your inner mouth. The additional space is created from that delightful 40-plus alcohol finding its way into your stomach while it simultaneously speeds up your heart and quickens your digestive system, allowing you to, in theory, eat more.
There are many creative ways to interpret this rustic culinary tradition, from its historic origins of straight shots of eau de vie taken directly from the still to a variety of modern stylizations. If you and your table guests are interested in trying this delightful French tradition this holiday season, Heavenly Spirits offers the following options:
Le Trou Normand - Original
It is certain that the first time a palate was cleansed with a young Calvados eau de vie it happened during a meal near to the still during distillation season. With this small sip in whatever glass was available, a tradition was born.
Le Trou Normand – Modern Traditional
This version of Le Trou Normand should be served in a small, elegant, wide brimmed cordial glass or something similar.
1 shot (1-1.5 oz.) Calvados, Roger Groult Reserve, Claque-Pepin Fine
1 or 2 small balls of apple or pear sorbet
1 mint leaf
Place sorbet in the glass.
Pour Calvados over the sorbet.
Add mint leaf garnish.
Serve immediately with small spoon.
Le Trou Normand - Christine
This variation of Le Trou Normand was created by Christine Foubert Cooney for one of her legendary holiday meals. It was served in a small, elegant, wide brimmed cordial glass with a tiny spoon, between courses of the fish and the meat.
1 shot (1-1.5 oz.) Calvados, Roger Groult Reserve
1-2 table spoons of home-made lemon Granita
1 mint leaf
Spoon Granita into the glass, filling half way.
Pour Calvados over the Granita.
Add mint leaf garnish.
Serve immediately with tiny spoon.
Our busy season is officially in high gear and our bags are perpetually ready for visits around the country. We've already been to Atlanta, Georgia to visit with Quality Wines & Spirits, where we participated in their annual grand tasting event.
After Atlanta, Christine traveled to Chicago for the ever-popular Chicago Indie Spirits show, as well as an event called "Boire comme les francais!" (Drink like the French!) in conjunction with BC Merchants and La Creperie, who served wonderfully delicious crepes with a flambé of Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac Napoleon!
We also spent some quality time out West this month, with most of our visit being divided among our three distributors in Northern California. During our nine day visit there, we made a 24 hour, round-trip dash to open our 26th state, Arizona. We arrived in Scottsdale just in time to participate in Diamondback Wine & Spirits' annual trade tasting.
By the time you read this, Christine will have returned from a visit to Maryland and DC to visit with Craft Wine & Spirits. This is a great market that has a growing appreciation for our fine French spirits portfolio and we love working with them.
During the first week of November, Christine will return to the West coast to work with our distributors in both Northern and Southern California. Finally, in mid-November we'll be back in Chicago for the 31st Annual Passport to France! a fantastic annual event sponsored by the French American Chamber of Commerce that does a tremendous job celebrating French culture, especially the food and drink aspects.
It's not every day that the heads of two very respected Cognac and Armagnac houses decide to take a trip to the U.S. TOGETHER, but then again, this kind of pro-active cooperation is what the Heavenly Spirits' marketing strategy is all about. What better way to promote the best-quality, family-owned, French craft spirits available?
Edouard Normandin-Mercier (of the eponymous Cognacs) and Benoit Hillion (of iconic Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac) represent some of the highest quality distillers in the classic French tradition. They started their tour in NY, moved on to Chicago, and ended with a visit to our home state of Massachusetts.
They participated in tasting events as well as on and off premise visits all along the way, finishing with a very informative and entertaining Cognac vs. Armagnac Seminar in front of two full sessions in the renowned cellars of Federal Wine & Spirits, in historic Boston, MA. Their on-going, slightly barbed repartee during the presentation was good humored and witty while remaining informative and fun.
Here are a few photos from their stay in Boston:
We arrived in Bordeaux to attend VinExpo on the second day of this five-day event. In addition to the two of us, we had our 22 year-old son, Austin, who now lives in France accompanying us for the “experience.”
Soon after we began exploring the halls, we all seemed to notice the same unexpected male fashion statement at once, “red pants.” One out of every 40 or so men were wearing red slacks. This is not very common in the US, so it stood out.
On the second day, I began looking closer and photographing examples. There seemed to be a kind of original fashion formula, that most of the variations evolved from, which included a blue and white vertical stripped shirt and a navy blazer. We saw a lot of those but also noticed the variations, which included different color shirts, no blazer, worn out red pants or an even brighter color blazer. After mentioning our observations to an American expatriate friend who has now gone native, he said the trend has been around for a number of years, and he believed it started in Italy.
On the third and forth day I started to notice other variations that I am sure stemmed from the red pants trend, including bright blue pants, and even a sort of yellowish gold color, modeled here by both my brother in law, Thierry and Edourd Normandin-Mercier, one of the cognac producers we work with.
Let me just say it here and now, as a painter and a colorist, I am all in favor of this mild form of peacockism, and sincerely hope the trend one day carries over here to the good old U S of A. I think we can all use more color in our lives.
Held every two years since 1981, VinExpo is known as the world's largest Drinks industry trade show. With literally miles of exhibition space to navigate, it is always a daunting task to see everything and meet with everyone on our list. Christine and I only missed one VinExpo since attending our first in 1996, and this year was one of our most enjoyable experiences.
Every two years, Bordeaux, France hosts VinExpo, the world's largest wine & spirits trade show, featuring miles of exhibition booths and products new and old from all over the world. This professional trade show draws over 50,000 visitors from 43 countries. We always try our very best to attend, our first time being in 1995. This year will mark the 10th VinExpo we have participated in.
VinExpo presents an excellent opportunity to meet with our French suppliers, talk about new trends in the industry, and get caught up with old friends. This year we are particularly excited to be on the hunt for a few new products that we can add to our ever-expanding portfolio of exceptional French spirits. We are not revealing exactly what those products are at this time, but please stay tuned and you will probably find out in our next newsletter. Below are some pictures from our time so far.
It is with great pleasure that we
welcome Advintage Distributing of Ladson, South Carolina to the
growing list of distributor partners representing the Heavenly Spirits' portfolio in the U.S.
specializes in hand-picked wines and specialty spirits. We're very excited to bring our portfolio of French spirits to the South Carolina public. However, with all the paperwork still needed to
be put in place, please look for us there by the end of the summer.
Heavenly Spirits is pleased to announce that four of our products scored higher than 90 points in this years challenge, three were Finalists and one even received the Chairman's Trophy, the highest award possible in the product's respective catagory. In addition, Organic Cognac Distillery, DuPeyrat was given the "Great Value Award" for its "Organic Selection" quality and price, (SRP generally under$35.00), and Distillery Warenghem was given the "Tried & True Award" in recognition of submitting spirits products that are consistently high in quality three years in a row.
According to its website, "Ultimate Beverage Challenge’s mission is to create and establish a new and higher standard of evaluation for spirits and wine that provides accurate, meaningful and useful results in recognizing and promoting the quality of beverage alcohol products. It accomplishes this by the integrity of its people and approach, its innovative and exacting methodology, and through the credibility of its results."
Each year we submit 4-6 products from our famed portfolio for consideration and each year we manage to come away with a handful of awards, which is a testament to the success of our own selection process. The awards are of course a tribute to the dedication, passion and quality that our producers put into all of their artisanally produced spirits. We are proud to represent such fine craftsmanship. Following is a list of awards our products received this year:
Chairman's Trophy, 94 points, Extraordinary! -
Tried & True Award -
ArmoriK Single Malt French Whisky, Sherry Finish
Finalist, 96 points, Extraordinary! -
Dartigalongue 1984 Bas-Armagnac
Finalist, 93 points, Excellent! -
Roger Groult 12 Year Old Calvados, Pays d'Auge
92 points, Excellent! -
Great Value Award -
Cognac Organic Selection DuPeyrat
The judges of this year's competition were inspired to offer cocktail serving suggestions for a few of our winners and we posted these on our cocktail recipe page, here.
ArmoriK Single Malt Sherry Finish received 94 points and the Chairman's Trophy in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2015, as well as the Tried and True Award. The Tried and True Award is awarded to "products that were entered into USC 2015 and a minimum of two prior USCs and have scored 85 or higher each time, are recognized for consistency of product quality with this award."
This French whisky drinks a lot like a Scottish single malt. Traces of rubber, peat and toffee comes through on the nose. In the mouth, it’s apples and sherry with a peppery edge. Still, fresh and vibrant.
In addition, ArmoriK Single Malt Sherry Finish was rated in a classic cocktail, the whiskey sour. The result: Whiskey Sour: 4 Stars, Very Delicious
Du Peyrat Organic Selection Cognac received 92 points in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. Awarded Great value indication.
Aromas are redolent of ripe juicy apricots with hints of tropical fruit. Rich and sweet in the mouth, flavors are pristine and focused with stone fruit, white tea and fresh flowers shining through. Smooth and balanced.
The Du Peyrat Organic Selection was featured in a classic cocktail, cognac and ginger ale. The result: Cognac and Ginger Ale: 2½ Stars, Delicious
Roger Groult 12 Years Old Calvados received 93 points and was a finalist in the Calvados category at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2015.
Bright on the nose, it is reminiscent of applesauce and white grapes. In the mouth it is spicy and complex with meyer lemon, white flowers and deep clover honey. The play between savory and sweet is intriguing.
The Roger Groult 12 Years Old Calvados was featured in the Jack Rose cocktail. The result: Jack Rose: 3½ Stars, Very Delicious
Our Newest Distributor State - Colorado!
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Estate Brands Distribution Company of Denver Colorado to the growing list of distributor partners representing the Heavenly Spirits portfolio. Estate Brands specializes in hand-picked wines and specialty spirits. Colorado becomes the 25th state where you can buy Heavenly Spirits products.
Just barely getting out of Providence, RI between two major snow storms, we traveled out to Colorado in mid-February to meet with the owners and some of the sales crew. While we were there, we ate and drank at some amazing places, and spoke with some very knowledgable people in the trade. Bistro Vendome, already a client, is where we dined the first night and we thoroughly enjoyed not only the authentic French cuisine but talking with the pleasant local couple who were dining at the bar next to us. Robin was our bartender and she made us a perfect aperitif cocktail built around calvados Roger Groult, Reserve.
Crepes & Crepes on 16th Street, who we hope will soon be carrying some of our products, was one of the last places we visited in Denver and it was fantastic. On a cold and blustery day, it provided a warm and comfortable haven, with an authentic French atmosphere and menu. The crepes were perfectly made and as tasty and wonderful as any I had ever experienced anywhere, including France.
We also spent an enjoyable evening at the "Source," a new and trending artisan food co-op type of space, located in a former brick factory with two restaurants, a butcher, a bakery, a cheese shop, a wine and spirits boutique retailer and an excellent little bar called RiNo Yacht Club in the middle of it all. Owned and managed by respected Denver Mixologist, Mclain Hedges, "RiNo" stands for Platte River North and the venue is totally worth a visit if you are in Denver. A few other dining establishments we visited include: Snooze, Appaloosa, Ship Tavern and Churchill Bar, the latter two connected to our hotel. We also had the pleasure of visiting the following spirits retailers, most of them already carried our products: Avon Liquor, Valet, The Bottle Shop, Argonauts, Hazel's, Beaver Liquors, and Apple Jacks. It was a great trip overall, and we are pleased to have the Heavenly Spirits portfolio now available in such a dynamic and exciting place as Colorado. See photos from our trip in the Gallery. Did you know Colorado averages 300 days of sunshine per year?
Almost one thousand whisky-loving fans attended Julio's annual Whisky Festival this past Sunday in Westborough, MA, capping off a whole weekend of seminars, tastings and dinners. Christine and I were pleased to be hosting David Roussier, Owner and Distiller of ArmoriK, Breton Single Malt Whisky, who was in town to participate in the festivities. Highlights of the weekend include: the Friday night Loche & K(e)y dinner with guest of Honor, Jim McEwan from Bruichladdich Distillers, Saturday's tasting seminar, "Saying Oui to French Whisky," delivered by David at Julio's Angel's Share room, and a more intimate "Meet and Greet Tasting" for 200 people on Saturday night at Julio's Metro Station Basement room. Though we have participated in this lively weekend event for the past three years, this year marks our greatest involvement yet, as we had a total of five different expressions of ArmoriK to share with the increasingly knowledgeable and ever enthusiastic consumers who attend. In addition to David's help, we also had the participation of Bill Ricker our Boston Sales Associate, Naomi our Office Associate, and Rory Caviness, Head Bartender at La Voile's in Boston. An unexpected piece of good news during the event came in the form of a positive review from the Whisky Advocate in their Spring edition, where the ArmoriK Sherry Finish was awarded 91 points and called "voluptuous ."
All in all it was a fantastic weekend shared with an enthusiastic group of whisky fans.
See more pictures from the weekend here.
How excited are we? Well Julio's Liquors' Whisk(e)y Weekend is this weekend, 2/27-3/1. Those of you who have attended before know it's an absolutely fabulous event, and they've expanded it this year to bring you even more great events and gatherings!
We're especially excited to announce that David Roussier owner of Warenghem Distilleries, makers of our beloved Armorik whiskies, will be giving a seminar on Saturday, February 28th from 1-2 p.m called "Say Oui to French Whiskey!" You can register for the seminar, and tons of other great events here. We promise, this is a weekend you don't want to miss!
Tis the season to meet with many of our distributors and to talk with some of their on and off premise accounts as we anticipate a very busy spirit buying season ahead. In this case we headed South on a 5 city marathon tour, starting first in Atlanta where we arrived just in time to participate in Quality Wine & Spirits annual tasting event which they share with Inland Seafoods. The show kicked off the night before with a dinner hosted at Quality's newly refurbished warehouse show room. Several cocktails were created for the evening, including a delicious "Artillery Punch" which featured Armagnac Marie Duffau among other ingredients.
The Atlanta tasting event itself was very well attended as usual and kept us extremely busy for most of the five and a half hours it lasted, ending at 7:PM. We met lots of folks and talked about
new pairing ideas (caviar to foie gras) and cocktail suggestions with some very passionate and creative people.
From there we headed to the great state of Texas for a 3 city Texas Road Trip organized by our favorite Texas distributor, "Favorite Brands." It was a great opportunity to meet and talk with the energetic and growing sales teams located in Houston, Austin and Dallas. In between shows we took the opportunity to visit some of the major Texas retailer outlets like "Specs" and "Twin Liquors" while showing support for some of the incredible on-premise accounts who carry our products; "Au Petit Paris" in Houston and "The Bonneville" in Austin to name just two. All I can say is that the cuisine in Texas is as good as it can possibly be, at least in these outstanding restaurants.
As soon as the Dallas show ended we were heading to the airport to catch our flight to New Orleans. We arrived exhausted but with enough time to stroll down Bourbon Street, stop for a beer at "Vacherie" and wind up at "Cafe du Monde" for some Beignets and a decaf. The next day we were up early for a meeting with the sales team of George Brown and Vino Wholesale. Christine led us through a near complete tasting of all our locally distributed products followed by a lively question and answer period. During the meeting we were told of a New Orleans restaurant chef who uses our Troussepinete as an ingredient in his handmade pate. Needless to say, we headed over there for lunch and enjoyed an amazingly satisfying meal before getting back on the plane. The restaurant is called ROOT and the Executive Chef is Phillip Lopez. We gave it and the pate 4 stars. This was my first time in New Orleans and I look forward to going back soon for a longer stay. Visits to most of the other states that distribute Heavenly Spirits are already planned for the next couple of months. See our photo gallery for more highlights from this post.
One of our favorite times of the year to visit France and meet with our suppliers is in June. This year was no different. Besides being one of the most pleasant times of year weather wise, it seems to be a time when our producers are more available to see us as work schedules are a bit lighter and little or no distilling is being done. VinExpo, the largest wine and spirits trade show in the world is held every other June in Bordeaux, so that also presents a great opportunity to research new products and meet with associates in the industry. This year VinExpo was scheduled for June 16 -20.
Due to business commitments in the US, I delayed my trip to France by about two weeks and Christine attended Vin Expo with our eldest son Austin, who now lives in France and was able to receive quite an education during the process. I believe it was the first time in twenty years I missed a VinExpo. During the four days in Bordeaux, CC had the chance to meet with many of our suppliers, research some new products for the Heavenly Spirits portfolio and set up meetings for when I arrived in July. Austin served as company photographer in my absence and I have posted some of his images in our photo gallery page linked below.
When I finally arrived on July 1st, Christine had a full schedule planned. Highlights included: a three day trip to the Loire Valley, three days of meetings in the Cognac region and several meetings in La Rochelle. Our biggest and most immediate news is that we have added not one but four excellent examples of Pineau de Charente to our portfolio to share with the American market. Normandine Mercier will be supplying a wonderful Pineaux that comes both in a red and a white version, while Cognac Jean Fillioux will be supplying a vieux red pinieau that is ten years old and a really lovely vieux white pineau that has fifteen years of age. With Americans becoming more and more sophisticated about aperitifs and spirits in general, we expect there will be quite an interest in these wonderfully popular before and after dinner drinks.
Heavenly Spirit fans will soon notice some packaging improvements for some of our most popular brands that we will be announcing as they arrive. We will also be launching at least one delicious, brand new, inovative spirit in the near future that we have spent quit a bit of time developing here. In short we have been working very hard to bring you, the American consumer, the best and most "heavenly" spirits France has to offer and we look forward to doing this for many weeks, months and years ahead. Stay tuned. Click here for more images from our trip to France.
The month of April had CC and me participating in a number of tasting events and seminars in a number of places. On April 10th we were in New Hampshire at our distributor's annual tasting event. While we were there we received the news that Heavenly Spirits had both the #1 best selling Armagnac as well as Calvados in the State. Thank you New Hampshire!
The week of the 14th we needed to be in Washington DC for a return engagement at the Alliance Francaise where we presented a two hour seminar and slide show on the differences between Cognac and Armagnac. Event participants paid $35.00 each for this fund raiser that benefitted the French cultural center and had the opportunity to taste four cognacs matched against four armagnacs of similar age. Being introduced to La Troussepinete, a wonderful French aperitif from the Vendee region was a bonus.
Because it was school vacation week our twelve year old son joined us for the drive down and we had a chance to visit and dine in the great American city of Philadelphia. We ate at Fork, in the old town where both the food and drinks are outstanding. The recommendation came from our distributor Mark Monaco and we can easily make the same recommendation to anyone who appreciates fine food, and excellent service. After a pleasant London style bus tour of the city we all agreed it is a place we would like to return to as soon as possible.
April is also the time of year for Chicago's annual Whisky Festival which has all but turned into a week long affair. It's a good opportunity to visit our distributor, BC Merchant and get out and visit some on and off premise accounts. Binny's, the largest chain of wine and spirit retailers in the state holds a Whisky Festival of their own and we had a really good time there introducing Armorik Breton whisky to the crowd of whisky fans. We also took the opportunity to introduce some of those whisky fans to the world of French Brandy, by presenting Delord Blanche Armagnac, Delord 10 year old Napoleon Armagnac, and Cognac Normandin Mercier, Prestige 15 year old to the interested attendees.
All in all it was a busy but productive month for Heavenly Spirits and having all the spring blossoms everywhere made it that much more enjoyable. See our gallery for more photos.
Picture this: Christine and I walking around a major DC Art museum, surrounded by "the beautiful people," looking at paintings with an award winning Heavenly Spirits inspired cocktail in our hands on a Saturday night. I'll tell you, it is work, but I am not complaining. That's exactly how it went down on another fast and furious road trip, this time to the DC area last weekend. We also had the opportunity to run around town with our distributor, Shannon Crisp and meet some of the amazing people who carry our spirits in the DC area. For example, we got to meet Tim Adams over at MacArthur Beverages, Prav Saraff at 1 West Dupont Circle, and Nathan at S&S Liquors. I say "amazing people" because each one seems to have a distinctive passion and dedication for the job they are doing and because each one has an obvious knowledge and respect for the art of making spirits and they seem to take pride in expanding and sharing that knowledge.
In addition to these fine retailers we also had the pleasure of meeting some great folks at a few on-premise accounts, including Boris at the Lincoln, Jonathan at the Firefly and Duane, who is the head bartender at Bourbon Steak, located at the Four Seasons Hotel. We had fun talking with Duane about a number of drinks industry topics and he introduced us to the best three variations of French fries in DC, (cooked in duck fat) each served with its own sauce.
"Artini" featured mixologists from eight D.C. restaurants, which concocted special cocktails inspired by a work of art from Corcoran's collection. Artini 2013 marked the sixth year for this annual event and it was a huge success, raising a ton of money for a worthy cause; more exhibition opportunities for emerging Washington DC artists.
For CC and me, it was our first "Artini" and I hope it won't be our last. Craft Wine & Spirits, our DC distributors did a fantastic job in making our products available to the mixologists representing some of the top DC bars competing in this year's event. We were especially pleased to learn that Heavenly Spirits products were chosen ingredients for five out of the eight competing cocktails, including the people's choice winner by Joe Ambrose from P.O.V., whose signature cocktail "First Impressions" was inspired by the Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting, "View From Cap Martin of Monte Carlo." Joe used Marie duffau Armagnac Napoleon, and Artez Poir Eau de Vie along with elderflower liquor, pear juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, chervil herb dust, berry foam and dehydrated raspberry meringue to make an outstanding cocktail that was tasty, and beautiful with the right combination of texture and smoothness. See the Artini 2013 Pinterest page here for photos and recipes.
Additional Heavenly products that were represented during the evening include: Absinthe La Muse Verte and Armorik Single Malt Whisky; the Classic and Double Maturation.
Leaving Massachusetts directly from our son's dramatic 10:AM Sunday indoor soccer match-up (our team won 2-1), we arrived in the Big Apple just in time to catch the Metropolitan Museum's Henri Matisse exhibition on its last day and it was well worth the effort. The show emphasized Matisse's masterful working methods, highlighting his tendencies to create series of paintings and to rework a composition until he got it right.
At the Annual VOS trade tasting, held the following day we had the opportunity to represent our own assortment of incredable French Masters who work in a completely different medium, that of distilled spirits. There are not many distributors around the country who carry such a large percentage of our portfolio as VOS so it was quite a sight to have them stretched out accross most of the City Winery's long bar. It is always a pleasure to attend these tastings even thought they are closed to consumers, because we get a chance to talk with some pretty knowledgable folks who work in the industry and have a great appreciation for our products. The NY City Winery located on Varick Street, not far from Washington Square is a very hospitable environment for this event. In addition to a terrific ambience, the staff are always friendly, upbeat and helpful, which, makes standing on our feet for seven hours less noticable and much easier to bear. Many thanks to the hardworking team at VOS Selections for another outstanding job in putting this show together. Well done!
See our gallery page for more photos from this event.
This year's 3 Day Whisky Weekend Extravaganza at Julios in Westboro, MA was held on February 22, 23, & 24. Despite a day of steady snow and slush, the main tasting event on Sunday attracted nearly 1,000 whiskey fans, distributors and producers. In fact, I have never seen that many men dressed in plaid skirts since back in the days when I lived in San Francisco. Many of the kilt wearers were of course playing bag pipes, creating a wonderfully festive and very Scotish ambience enjoyed by the whisky drinking crowd. Many in attendance were seriously knowledgable whisky afficionados, including members of local whisky clubs especially the Loch & K(e)y Club as well as assorted whisky twitterers, and bloggers; @WhiskyRI @WhiskyCast @ScotchSniper @WhiskyProfessor @DrinkInsider and @JuliosSpirits to name a few.
Christine and I were pouring the Armorik Classic as well as the Double Maturation and as usual we had a split crowd when polled on their favorite. Some really liked the layered sherry notes of the Double, while others prefered the pleasant 1-2-3 taste profile of the Armorik Classic; floral nose, sweet entry, light smokey middle and a lovely round finish. We showed up an hour early and stayed busy right till the end. In addition to our single malt whiskies, we offered tastings of the Delord Blanche Armagnac, aperitif La Troussepinete red & white and the Lise Baccara XO cognac which was a big hit especially near the end. All in all it was a first class event and we will most likely be adding it to our annual tasting event program. If you have never been to Julios you should check it out. http://www.juliosliquors.com/WAGG2013/GOWW2013.html
See more Whisky Weekend photos in our gallery
Heavenly Spirits would like to thank all of our producers, distributors, support staff and of course the growing number of Heavenly Spirits consumers and product ambassadors for helping to make 2012 our best year yet. In addition to increasing overall sales, we added new products to our portfolio, increased the number of states we are distributed in and added new events to our educational outreach calendar. Many of the fine products that we represent received industry awards, positive reviews and press mentions in leading US journals. Our Chicago Tasting Tour was a huge success, bringing the producers of some of the top French spirit brands to Chicago in October. And it looks like we remained the #1 importer of Armagnac to the US for the third straight year, accounting for more than 20% of all Armagnac imported. In fact, we have been so busy it was quite impossible to keep up with this blog toward the end of the year. Instead, I was posting updates to our Face Book Fan page and to our Twitter account.
In 2013 we intend to keep our momentum going with more visits to suppliers and distributors, and even more tasting events and educational seminars across the US. We also plan to improve our communications by increasing the number of press releases we put out, and adding a Heavenly Spirits newsletter which will be emailed directly to subscriber’s “In-Box.” The newsletter will keep subscribers current on happenings within our company and include some fun features like cocktail and cooking recipes, bar or retailer of the month and spirit facts.
In short, 2012 was an exciting year for Heavenly Spirits but we hope to make 2013 even better. See the following links to recent press reviews:
Of all the holidays Christine and I celebrate, the nearest and dearest to our hearts is ironically the only one that is not celebrated in France. Thanksgiving is an American holiday but it has a very universal appeal. It is rooted in the harmonies of nature, both human and environmental. It is a time when people come together in cooperation, preparation and appreciation of what life is all about; the harvest is in, the food pantries are full, the wine has been pressed, wood has been stockpiled and the winter is knocking on our door. It is time to celebrate the full abundance of life with good family and friends over the best and most fantastic food and drink that is available. It is time to make that special recipe with all the right ingredients, or open that crazy good bottle you had been saving for the right occasion. The occasion is now. It is time to eat, drink and be merry for so many reasons worth counting. As Christine and I count our reasons to be thankful we think of our family, friends and business associates and we wish you all a very, very happy and joyous celebration.
But don’t forget.., the Mayan calendar ends sometime in December and you can’t take it with you, so drink up! Cheers, and Happy Thanksgiving!
-Dan & Christine Cooney, Heavenly Spirits
We have just returned from an ambitious 9 days of spirits tasting which included two major cityies, eight French producers, three distributors and a hurricane. So we are happy to report that in addition to surviving a grueling work schedule, we managed to connect with quite a few consumers and we also had a pretty good time.
Our adventures began with a drive to New York to work at the New York Whisky Fest. This was a great opportunity to introduce the Armorik Whisky line, the only French made single malt available in the US to a dedicated group of consumers. It was a real pleasure to talk with individuals who were so well informed about whisky, many of them devout members of whisky clubs. The Wall Street Journal had impeccable timing by publishing "Eau de Malt," a full page article on Frenchwhiskys during the Festival. Started by a phone call we recieved over the summer, writer John Forsyth did an admiral job of sorting through the collection of emerging French producers dabbling in the production of whisky and rightfully singled out Armorik as the most developed and most scotch like of the group. While the emphasis of the piece was on French Whisky, the emerging catagory of "world whiskyies" was mentioned and several producers were discussed.
Even before the Whisky Fest was finished we had received news that our flight to Chicago was canceled due to the approach of hurricane Sandy. If we had any hope to be there for our week long Chicago tasting tour, our only choice was to drive back to MA, rent a vehicle and drive the 1,000 miles to Chicago and do our best to stay ahead of the storm. That is what we did, stopping for a short nap only twice. Once we arrived at our hotel in Chicago, we were back on schedule and a jam packed schedule it was. While consumer tastings punctuated our week, we also had time for a trade tasting, an informative visit to an exciting local distllery, a lesson on Chicago Blues, some stops at trendy drinking establishments, and visits with our distributors to some of our top retail and on premise accounts. For a photographic tour of our adventures click the following link. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bnhcywb5d47f6rc/3GVwHCUaY4
This continues to be a very busy event season for us, with tastings and seminars planned right up until the holidays. In addition to events in Rhode Island, New York and Massachusetts, we are looking forward to our most ambitious event to date, and that is our first ever Meet the Makers Tour which will encompass five days in Chicago with eight of our producers traveling around with us to different venues each day to offer tastings and talk about their award winning artisanal French spirits. We hope that anyone in the Chicago area who is reading this will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to come out and learn about the fascinating art of distillation from the artists themselves. For more information, see our events page.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, September 17, 2012
Contact: Daniel Cooney, email@example.com
Heavenly Spirits, U.S. importers of exceptional French spirits will be participating in a series of tastings of their award winning French spirit portfolio in and around the city of Chicago over a six day period starting October 30. Joining Daniel and Christine Cooney, owners of Heavenly Spirits will be seven of their French producers, or representatives who will be flying in for this first ever special event series. This new generation of young, French spirit producers include: Jerome Delord of Armagnac Delord, Jean-Roger Groult of Calvados Groult, David Roussier of Warenghem Distillerie, makers of Armorik French Single Malt Whisky, Benoit Hillon of Armagnac Dartigalongue, Sandra Falaise of Lise Baccara, producers of La Troussepinete aperitif, Caroline Jounault, for Seguinot Cognac and Christophe Fillioux of iconic Cognac Jean Fillioux. Additional products from the Heavenly Spirit portfolio will also be poured at each of these events.
The week of Heavenly Spirits tastings begins appropriately at the Hoffman Estates’ first ever International Food Tasting Festival on Tuesday, October 30. http://cloud.chambermaster.com/userfiles/UserFiles/chambers/495/File/TasteofHoffman-4.pdf. The Festival will be featuring the culinary masterpieces of French Chef Patrick Guat and his students from the Culinary School of L’Amandier, Angouleme, France who will be serving a variety of specially prepared appetizers and delicacies brought over from the southwest region of France. A maximum of 300 people are allowed into this event and the $10 advanced tickets are expected to sell out fast. Attendees will have the opportunity to talk with the distillers and producers and to sample a variety of French spirits both neat and in a variety of cocktails.
On Wednesday, the Heavenly Spirits gang has been invited to tour the Chicago based Koval Distillery, while later that evening, All Hallows Eve, the visiting French distillers will get a chance to explore Chicago’s night life, on their own at its wildest. Returning to the tasting circuit on Thursday, the group will be offering tastings and information at Binnys’ Downers Grove location from 5 – 8 PM.
The Friday night tasting is not to be missed; from 5 – 8 PM Chef Patrick Guat will rejoin the Heavenly Spirits group at Binny’s most popular spirits retail outlet, Lincoln Park, Chicago. In addition to the multiple tables of French artisanal spirits that will be available for tasting with the producers, the public will be treated to more genuine culinary treats from the Southwest of France prepared by Chef Guat and his visiting crew of student chefs (while supplies last). Finally on Saturday night, November 3, you will find the Heavenly Spirits’ tasting crew at the Highland Park Binny's from 5 – 8 PM for its final Chicago tasting appearance.
Drinks industry trade journalists are encouraged to contact Dan Cooney (508 947-9973) well in advance to schedule interviews with these Master distillers during their brief visit to the windy city.
Having taken the semester off from my teaching responsibilities at the local university, I’ve been able to devote more time in general to Heavenly Spirits and in this case join CC on a trip that included stops in Florida and Georgia. On the first leg of our trip we got to spend time in Florida with old San Francisco friends Bob & Debra Ackerman. We don’t know any couple more dedicated to experiencing the worlds of fine food, wine, spirits and travel than Bob and Debra. In addition to catching up with each other's recent experiences we spoke about the Florida market and options for Heavenly Spirits expansion.
Leg two of our trip South brought us to Atlanta Georgia, where we participated in Quality Wine & Spirits annual tasting extravaganza. Christine had bragged over the past three years about what a first class event this was and how it had continued to grow. I was very glad to be there and to see and experience Atlanta for the first time. Held downtown at the Merchandise Mart Convention Center, and combined with the Inland Sea Food Show Case, the event was a huge success that made the six hours of talking on our feet go by very quickly. We poured samples of our spirits to a very knowledgeable and appreciative crowd that we hope will continue to grow each year. Hats off to Joe Best and his family owned company for putting together such a fine event. (See Gallery for more photos)
In the third week of our so called “vacation” we took two separate trips toward the city of Cognac to visit with producers and product packaging suppliers. On a Tuesday we visited with our very good friend Alain, a certified master blender of distilled spirits. As usual he insisted we eat at his and now our “favorite restaurant in Cognac,” Le Patio, where the food is always amazing, the service friendly and professional, and the prices more than reasonable. We enjoyed incredible salads and got caught up on variety of project ideas.
After lunch we headed off to meet with the Filloux family at Cognac Jean Filloux, located in the famed Grand Champagne area of Cognac. Though we have been here before, we took this opportunity on a perfectly sunny summer day to tour the entire operation and grounds, learning some of the fascinating history along the way, while tasting new blends and delicious little “financiers” cakes.
Finally, two days later we traveled to the medieval village of Pon and met with the impressive business team of Lise Baccara, producers of the wonderful aperitif, La Troussepinete. We learned much about the history and development of the company and many of their fine products as told by the founder, inventor, and master liquorist, Gerard Paignon, who was aided by not one but two English speaking members of their team. All in all it was a most productive meeting and we look forward to continuing the dialog as we move ahead promoting this amazingly delicious aperitif. Sandra Falaise, director of international sales will be traveling to the US in October to join us with Chef Patrick Guat and several of our other producers in Chicago where we will be conducting a series of informative Heavenly Spirits Portfolio Seminars and Tastings. We look forward to seeing a good amount of Chicago area spirit fans to come out for these unique events.
See Gallery here for more photos.
Our most involved meeting, that took place during our second week might have been the overnight journey we took to Lannion, to tour the Warenghem Distillerie. Located in the Brittany region of France it was a rainy five hour drive from La Rochelle in each direction. It was the first time either Christine or I had been to Warenghem to see how they produce the best single malt whisky made in France. Hosted by Directeur Gilles Leizour and his son-in-law David Roussier, it was a fascinating and informative experience that encompassed the history of the distillery and their particular art for making high quality single malt whisky, as well as other assorted spirits and beer. As I am writing this and remembering all we learned it is becoming clear that I could write a post for each and every product Warenghem produces, but I am not going to do that. Instead, I am going to provide you a link to the Warenghem web site and share some of our photos with captions of our day spent with Gilles and David.
Specializing in Celtic spirits, Warenghem Distillerie is a very impressive, well established, multi faceted operation that produces several versions of their very tasty, well balanced, high quality, single malt whisky. Made with malted barley grown in the East of France and crystal clear granitic water from their own protected aquifer source located directly beneath the distillery. The mash is double distilled using a traditional copper cognac still and the spirit is then matured in wooden casks for many years. The way the barrels are used combined with the type of wood and the local climate are keysto obtaining the rich nuanced taste of ArmoriK Whisky. We are very pleased to be representing this world class whisky and encourage all single malt fans to give it a try. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
The city of Lannion is a charming Breton town, especially on market day when the central area near the salty river is filled with tables and stands of locally produced wares of all kinds, including: cheeses, wines, baked goods, assorted crafts and much more. Locals and tourists flock to the market, streaming in from all directions. In the summer months the Warenghem Distillerie runs free tours and tastings every hour, open to the public and it is a very popular destination indeed, especially on overcast summer days. See the Gallery (part 2) for more photos and information. Click here for the Warenghem web site.
With our visit to La Rochelle, France now complete, I’m going to try and get caught up on sharing some of the food, wine and spirit related experiences we had during our stay.
Our first day of meetings began only a few days after arriving in La Rochelle. We headed to the city of Angouleme and were hosted for the day by Angouleme based Chef and Culinary Professor Patrick Guat, a man with a gift for bringing people and high quality food products together. In a series of visits and meetings, Patrick had arranged for us to see a number of exciting regional products and meet the entrepreneurs behind those products. We started by meeting Raynal Geoffroy, the force behind OBO premium soda, a wonderfully refreshing concoction that tasted to me like a cross between Dr. Pepper and some kind of ginseng energy drink. Made for the most part with healthy ingredients like ginseng and grapefruit and with much less sugar then most American soft drinks. It seems to have struck a chord with pre-teens and thirty-somethings here in France. They might be looking for someone to introduce it to the US market. I have to say, the product has a lot going for it, including a well thought out and professionally designed graphic identity. Of course we specialize in French spirits, not carbonated beverages, but we are aware that one does have to at least consider opportunities wherever they present themselves.
After lunch we headed off to see Jacquiot, a producer of Creme de Cassis and other liquors. We were greeted by Mr. Chaignaud, his wife and his lovely English speaking daughter, Clemence, who shared with us the history of the family vineyard and distillery. We tasted several of the products and toured the production facility, where they had just finished making and bottling this year’s limited yield of crème de cassis. We now have an option to import some of it fpr the US market.
While exiting the bottling room, I noticed a curious item (made famous to me by conceptual artist, Marcel Duchamp). It was the first time I had ever seen a traditional French bottle drying rack, actually being used to dry bottles. We already represent a crème de cassis made in the Dijon area of France that many of you know is quite good, so we were very surprised at how tasty this one was, made in the Charente. The main difference we found between the two was that the Jacquiot version had a burst of natural fruit tartness different from our Jules Theuriet brand. Both are just wonderful products and serve as the main ingredient for the Kir or Kir Royal cocktail so popular here in France. In fact these crème de cassis can be used in a variety of ways to improve or enhance almost any dessert. Later that evening we were invited to Patrick’s home where we were treated to an amazing five course meal prepared by Patrick where he used the crème de cassis in a delicious savory sauce served over quail. I tell you, it was a day and a meal to remember.
Heavenly Spirits is pleased to announce that five of our products have been selected for the List of 140 BEST Five Star Spirits in the World. Three of those products are rated at the top of their respective catagories, including top rated Cognac, top rated Armagnac, and top rated Blanche Armagnac. To read a description of each of these products written by the judges and to see product's overall position on the list, take a look at the gallery. Congratulations to the producers of these fine products.
There are lots of reason we like to travel to the golden State; 1, it was our home for ten years, and 2, it’s the biggest market in the US for our Heavenly spirits products. On this occasion we had the opportunity to participate in the first ever LA Cocktail Classic, sponsored by Eat, Drink, Play, so that was more than enough reason for us to go. In order to get the most out of our trip we decided to stop in the San Francisco Bay area on the way. We were not the only ones. We soon discovered from the police lined streets as we entered the city, that someone was following us. We pulled over to see what was going on and two minutes later President Obama and his convoy drove past. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that the special welcome wasn’t just for us. None the less, we felt plenty welcomed when we visited our distributors and some of the fine retailers who carry our products. We showed a number of products wherever we went, including La Troussepinete, the wonderful French aperitif new to America from the Vendee region. We were pleased to find out that everyone who tried it loved it as much as we do. (We learned it even goes well with Spam.) For our last night in the North, we poured a variety of Heavenly Spirits for a very appreciative crowd of consumers at K&L in Redwood City. Our thanks go out to David & Kyle for organizing that event.
After a quick presentation of La Trousse to the the Epic team, we left at mid-day on Friday, destination LAX. For the first time ever, we had a well meaning but over-zealous United check- in staff member question how we packed our bottles in relation to their new system. This guy ended up gifting himself a sample bottle of a wonderful new coffee flavored liqueur, produced in Northern California, called “FIRELIT.” As disappointing as this loss was, we were lucky enough to come into a replacement bottle later that evening at the LA Cocktail Classic, via Eric at the Bock table next to ours . Held at the Vibiana, a former cathedral located in Down Town Los Angeles, the Cocktail Classic tasting was indeed a class event. We had a perfect location for our table outside on the well lit patio, plus we had the pleasure of Lanee Lee Neil @wanderlushdiary, a talented LA lifestyle writer/blogger helping us pour. The temperature was perfect, the music was good and all the attendees looked like movie stars. It’s an event we thoroughly enjoyed and would like to do again next year. See our gallery for more photos and see this link for more info: (http://www.thrillist.com/bars/los-angeles/ca/90012/downtown-/la-cocktail-classic_bars_cheap-drinks_great-cocktails_events).
Heavenly Spirits is pleased to announce that two of our products received the Chairman's Trophy, the highest award possible in their respective catagories at this year's Ultimate Challenge. For anyone not familiar with the challange I offer this quote from their web site:
"Ultimate Beverage Challenge’s mission is to create and establish a new and higher standard of evaluation for spirits and wine that provides accurate, meaningful and useful results in recognizing and promoting the quality of beverage alcohol products. It accomplishes this by the integrity of its people and approach, its innovative and exacting methodology, and through the credibility of its results."
The awards are of course a tribute to the dedication, passion and quality that our producers put into all of their artisanally produced distilled products. We are proud to represent such fine craftsmanship. Following is a list of awards our products received:
For a link to the Ultimate Beverage site and a list of all the winners click here:
Heavenly Spirits of Lakeville, MA is pleased to announce that the top two winners of this year’s Ultimate Spirit award for an aperitif is La Troussepinette Red, and La Troussepinette White by Lise Baccara. The Red version of La Troussepinette earned the highest score and the Chairman’s Trophy with 96 points, followed closely by La Troussepinette White, which earned an impressive 95 points to place second.
An ancient traditional aperitif, La Troussépinète has its origins in the Vendée, a coastal region north of Cognac. It is believed that it was made clandestinely by the unofficial distillers of the Vendée who were not granted the right to distill by the French authorities.
Since ancient times, we know that wines of mediocre quality were flavored before being consumed most of the time. The upper classes were able to flavor their wines with expensive imported spices and plants such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves or rose petals. The people with less means had to use their imagination and find other local ingredients.
In the Vendée, a lot of farmers had small vineyards but the wines produced were only ordinary in quality. However, there was a lot of blackthorn bushes and the winegrowers and distillers started to use it to make troussépinètte wines. The French word for “blackthorn bush” is “épinète,” which we find in the name troussépinètte.
The Lise Baccara Troussépinètte was created by Gerard Pagnon, a small wine grower and liquoriste from the Cognac area. There are a few different ways to make troussépinètte but Gerard uses the original ancient recipe. Young blackthorn shoots are harvested in the spring, then sliced up and allowed to macerate in low alcohol cognac for 1 to 2 months to release the sap.
Wine (red or white) is added, as well as some sugar and the blend is adjusted to a final content of 17%, then filtered and bottled.
Note: the scientific name for the blackthorn bush is prunus spinosa which produces the popular sloe berries; but berries are not used to produce
troussépinète, only the spring shoots full of sap and almond like flavors.
We are doing our best to introduce this wonderful product to all of our distributors as fast as we can. If you don't yet have it available in your State, you can order it on-line from one of our recommended on-line retailers.
The second part of our Left Coast tour took us in and around Los Angeles, CA. Our primary reason for the visit was to work with Jean-Francois Rault, owner and producer of Cognac DuPeyrat. He was participating in the annual Expo West, organic trade show, held each year in Anaheim, and we were there to help. The show was very well attended and for the first time ever, they grouped all the organic wine, beer and spirits producers in the same ball room. Everyone agreed it was a good idea. The convention is one of the biggest in the industry and there was a lot to see, smell, taste and talk about.
Mr. Rault’s son Antoine was also present and together the four of us visited some of Heavenly Spirits’ top accounts in Southern California, including: High Time, Beverage Warehouse and the Hollywood location of K&L Merchants. We have been invited back to Hollywood later this year to participate in a “Speak-Easy” themed tasting and we hope to be able to do it. Just for kicks, we also stopped in to check out “Whiskey a Go-Go,” a landmark club in the American music landscape and a special request by Antoine. Altogether, the weather was fantastic for most of our four day visit, allowing us to move around quickly and comfortably. It was a great opportunity to meet so many fans of organic products and quality French spirits. California remains our largest market and so we will most likely need to visit ever more frequently in the future.
Productive West Coast Trip Keeps Heavenly Spirits Moving Forward, Part 1
Because we are the proud parents of two boys, and because I am an adjunct professor at a local university, Christine and I seldom get to travel together. Fortunately, this past week it worked out and I got to spend my “Spring Break” working in California. While I am not nearly as known or experienced in the field as my charming partner/wife Christine, I believe it is good for folks to know who I am, and for me to know them.
This was a whirlwind six day trip for me and a nine day trip for CC, packed with lots of meetings and moving about to and fro. Objectives of this visit included introducing a few new products and/or packaging designs, participating in the Expo-West trade show in Anaheim with one of our producers, and having the opportunity for me (the lesser known partner) to meet many of our distribution associates as well as our retail and on-premise clients in CA. Because we have such interesting and dedicated people in our network of associates and friends, the experience was a true pleasure. If Heavenly Spirits continues to grow at the pace it has over the past two years, we will be taking even more trips, together or individually just to keep up with the growth.
Our week began with a Heavenly Spirit tasting put together by Brian, of Epic Wines, held at La Mar Restaurant at the Embarcadero. The Peruvian cuisine was amazing; stunningly beautiful to look at and delicious to eat. Conversation was lively and quick as those in attendance took time in the middle of a busy work day.
For the next two days we visited a variety of Bay area Heavenly Spirits’ clients, sometimes in conjunction with one of our distributor’s sales representatives. One of these clients, D&M Wine & Liquor Co. is particularly well known for their knowledge of Armagnac and other French Brandies. They even have individual, connoisseur buying clubs for Armagnac, Cognac and Calvados that you can join and learn about on their web site: http://www.dandm.com/aboutus.php. What really impressed me at their Fillmore Street location, and I have never seen anything like it before in a store this size, is their “Wall of Armagnac,” pictured here. While we had the opportunity we sampled owner Karen Politz and two of her staff on several of our newer products which they seemed to enjoy. Please check them out the next time you are in San Francisco.
The United States and the European Union announced today that beginning June 1, 2012, organic products (like Du Peyrat Cognac), certified in Europe or in the United States may be sold as "organic" in either region. As the two largest organic-producing regions in the world, this partnership should prove beneficial in promoting the growing organic industry on a global scale. Before this agreement was reached, organic producers had to wade through redundant bureaucratic processes and fees in order to be recognized as organic in both regions.
Cognac producer, Distillerie Du Peyrat, and American importer, Heavenly Spirits are thrilled by the recent announcement concerning organic certification. As owner and developer of the first 100% certified organic cognac in the world, Jean-Francois Rault, a leader and pioneer in the organic spirits industry will now be free to promote the virtues of his rare organic cognacs to the United States market as well as the EU. The family of Jean-Francois Rault has been in the business of distilling grapes for cognac since 1705, (selling much of their eau-de-vie to the larger cognac houses during that time). Jean-Francois represents the first generation to have focused so exclusively on producing certified organic cognac that uses no artificial fertilizers or pesticides. In fact, the Du Peyrat distillery is responsible for more than 80% of all certified organic cognac ever produced in France.
Du Peyrat’s RARE Prestige Cognac has received a rating of “Excellent” from the Ultimate Spirits Challenge in 2010 and Paul Pacult of the Spirit Journal awarded it four stars and “Highly Recommended” in 2009. “Being able to officially cite Du Peyrat Cognac’s genuine organic pedigree in addition to its awards for quality and taste should certainly create a greater demand from our consumers in the US,” says Christine Cooney, Partner and Brand Manager, for the US importer, Heavenly Spirits, LLC. The timing of this organic labeling announcement goes well with Du Peyrat’s recent redesign of its cognac packaging. Opting for a more modern, down-to-earth look, the new “RARE Prestige” packaging has gotten rave reviews from consumers and retailers alike.
Come meet Jean-Francois Rault and sample the Du Peyrat RARE Prestige Organic Cognac at EXPO WEST, in Anaheim, CA - booth #10 on March 9 & 10.
Download the PRWeb press release on this topic: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2012/2/prweb9231425.htm
This Blog post is dedicated to all who have helped Heavenly Spirits grow in 2011. We salute our producers, transporters, distributors, agents, retailers and especially our consumers, for helping us put together our best year yet. Available now in more than seventeen US States, Heavenly Spirits strives to represent the absolute highest quality artisanal spirits made in France. The market has responded exceptionally well to our efforts supporting our placement of at least seven new products in 2011, including: aperitif Troussepinete, cognacs from Jean Fillioux and Normandin Mercier, vintage armagnacs from Dartigalogne and Delord, as well as new packaging for three of our other products; Armorik French whisky, Du Peyrat Organic Cognac, and the Delord Armagnac line.
Christine and I feel especially lucky to be building this business with such an increasingly knowledgeable and appreciative demographic forming in the marketplace. It is a demographic that has grown out of the American wine movement which exploded thirty years ago as well as the more recent demand for quality craft beers. Of course distilled spirits have their own historic roots to build on in America and abroad. A lot of folks, especially baby boomers are becoming interested in learning more about spirits and gaining a better understanding of how and when to enjoy them. We are happy to oblige by offering seminars and tastings at every available opportunity. One of our most popular seminars in 2011 is called “Cognac vs. Armagnac.” We talk about the differences and similarities of these two great French brandies and offer fantastic tasting examples straight from our award winning portfolio in support of our words.
Our plans for Heavenly Spirits in 2012 will be to continue servicing the growing interest in fine distilled spirits by maintaining our prized portfolio, providing great service and introducing a few new amazing products whenever we get the chance. We love to hear from anyone interested in what we do, so don’t hesitate to drop us a note or email us a question. Wishing you all the best in 2012, Daniel & Christine Cooney
Armorik Classic Single Malt French Whisky has the distinction of being not only the oldest Whiskey made in France, (25 years) but the only French single malt whisky sold in the US.
It’s been a great year for Armorik, as it earned an Exceptional Gold medal from the Beverage Tasting Institute’s International Review of Spirits, who noted it was a “lively, easy drinking malt whisky akin to a fine Lowland Scotch.” Paul Pacult also awarded Armorik four stars in the September issue of the Spirit Journal, while the Malt Advocate also featured Armorik in its New Products section, Summer issue, and author, David Wondrich, a respected spirit specialist said when speaking about Armorik, that he “loves it!”
In addition to all the attention Armorik is earning from its exceptional quality, the Warenghem Distillery, producers of Armorik have created an exciting new package design reflecting the long history of the distillery itself. The new design is pictured here and is now available in the US.
If you are a fan of single malt whisky and appreciate the art of French distilling you are going to like Armorik Breton Single Malt Classic, the only whisky in our exclusive French portfolio. Armorik Breton Single Malt Classic Whisky is an exercise in carefully balancing the classic whisky sipping elements, resulting in an ideal taste experience. Currently available in NY, NJ, MA, GA, TN, IL, RI, MO, & PA
ABV: 46%, 6/750ml, SRP: $49.00,
If that is not enough, Warenghem plans on releasing two other whiskies early in 2012; first a double barrel Breton single malt (Armorik Forest Oak / Sherry Cask) and then a limited release, vintage 10 year old, Breton single malt. We will keep you posted.
The second Ultimate Blast was held this past weekend at New York's Marriott Marquis Hotel - Grand Ballroom and we think it was even better then the first. Here we had the opportunity to taste some of the finest wines, cocktails and spirits in the world, with great music, excellent cocktail foods, and some really nice people all under one roof. The only real problem was not having enough time to experience it all.
From our point of view it seemed like the after party for the Academy Awards of Spirits (click here to read a list of our product awards) . Not only did we get to rub shoulders with industry stars and leaders but we had the opportunity to talk with the press, have our products' picture taken and offer Heavenly tastings to a wide range of people and fans who really care.
One of the highlights for me was when Paul Pacult introduced us to David Wondrich, who was there to sell and sign his newest book, "Punch." While looking at our line up of French products David noticed we had the French made Armorik Whisky and commented "I love that whisky." Being that I also love that whisky and value David's opinion, I immediatly asked him if I could quote him and he said "yes." So there it is for any of you whisky fans who who have yet to taste our wonderful French Whisky, made in Brittany, David Wondrich loves it. Come to think of it, we had people telling us all night how good it was, including Paul Pacult who has included it in his reknowned spirit seminars and that good looking woman who showed up late with Gregg Glaser, publisher of Modern Distillery Age. ArmoriK whisky will be showing off its new look in November. I hope the reaction to the new package will be as positive as the reaction has been to the new blend of this wonderful, easy to drink Whisky. See more photos here in our gallery or on our Face Book page. Cheers!
We are just back from a very spirited tasting party in Chicago. The Bottom Lounge played host to this first ever Independent Spirits Expo held in Chicago. The event showcased over seventy vendors
including many of the smaller independent craft distillers popping up all over the US and around the world. Over five hundred people from both the drinks industry as well as consumers were in
Heavenly Spirits was there showcasing some of our award winning products, including: Qino One Vodka, Delord Blanche Armagnac, Artez Pear Eau de Vie, Armorik, Single Malt French whisky, Roger Groult Calvados Pays d' Auge, Marie Duffau Bas Armagnac Napoleon & Hors d' Age, Dartigalongue Bas Armagnac XO & Hors d' Age, Delord Bas Armagnac 25 year old, Jean Fillioux Cognac Grande Champagne Cep, Jules Theuriet Cremes de Cassis and La Muse Verte Absinthe. During the tastings we had a chance to talk with a lot of interesting folks who came to our table with a wide range of spirit tasting experiences. I think it is safe to say we offered one of the broadest tasting selections at the event and were pleased to receive many compliments of high praise for the quality of our products and portfolio.
Following this event Christine and I took the opportunity to spend the next two days visiting some of the outstanding on and off premise accounts in the Chicago area, where we conducted custom tastings for owners and staff. Chicago is a fantastically cultured city that continues to be one of our best markets due to their appreciation for exceptioal quality French spirits.
Good News for you fans of exceptional French Spirits who happen to live in New Jersey; most of the Heavenly Spirits portfolio will now be sold in your state. That's right, and it's all thanks to our New York distributer VOS, who just recently expanded their distribution of spirits all the way to the Jersey Shores. http://vosselections.com/Spirits.html It sounds like a pretty good situation if you ask me. If you live in New Jersey and would like your local retail spirits provider to carry our products give us a shout and we will see if we can hook you up through VOS.
This week, Heavenly Spirits traveled to Georgia to participate in Quality Wine & Spirits' annual tasting event. Always a first class affair, and regarded by vendors and clients as the best distributor show in Atlanta, this year was no different. Retailers even came from neighboring Nashville, TN to taste the vast selection of wines and spirits. Held at the renowned Gift Mart Convention Center of Atlanta, Quality also supplied a tasting of fancy foods including crab meat, oyster, lobster, scallop, and cheese creations, for those who were in attendance.
Heavenly Spirits was showing Whisky Armorik, Armagnac Marie Duffau, & Dartigalongue, Calvados Chauffe Coeur, Delord Floc, La Muse Verte Pastis and Absinthe.
Joe Best is the owner of Quality Wine & Spirits.
The VP / Purchasing Director is Bill York.
Lindy Colburn is the Manager of Spirits & Mixology.
For more info go to http://www.qwine.com/takingthebestapproach.htm
Stay tuned for upcoming tasting events for Heavenly Spirits in Chicago, New York and elsewhere.
There is no better way to mark an anniversary, a birthday or a some other special annual event than with a bottle of vintage Armagnac made in the year that is being celebrated.
Dartigalongue, the oldest house in Armagnac has been producing vintage Armagnacs for over 170 years. The Dartigalongue Celebration Collection was created for just these types of events. Since we are in 2011, vintages from years ending in "1" including 1991, 1981, 1971, 1961, and 1951 are now available through Binnys either on-line http://www.binnys.com/spirits/search/?advs=2&astxt=dartigalongue or directly through their retail locations. Additional US retailers will be carrying the collection in the Fall. Check to see which other vintages are available.
Christine and I were thrilled to once again visit the Dartigalongue cellars this past June and taste many of these fine vintages including the highly acclaimed and very rare 1959. Benoit Hillon, the newest edition to this esteemed family house was the perfect host during our visit. He and Madam Dartigalongue also took us on a tour of their fascinating Armagnac museum sharing industry stories and information that dates back to the early 1800s.
For a rare gift that truly marks that special annual occasion you can’t do better. To learn about this and other Dartigalongue products available in the US please click here: dartigalongue.com/ or contact Heavenly Spirits at firstname.lastname@example.org/.
It’s been a great couple of months for our favorite French whisky. Armorik Classic was awarded an Exceptional Gold medal from the BTI’s International Review of Spirits, noting it was a “lively, easy drinking malt whisky akin to a fine Lowland Scotch.”
The Malt Advocate also featured Armorik in its New Products section, summer 2011 issue. Additionally, the Warenghem Distillery, producers of Armoik have announced a new package design reflecting the long history of the distillery. The new design is pictured here and will be available in the US by October. I will be writing more about this new design in a later post. Until then…
If you appreciate the art of French distilling and happen to be a fan of single malt whisky you are going to like Armorik Breton Single Malt Classic. The only whiskey in our exclusive French spirit portfolio is one of only a few serious French whiskies in existence. Armorik Breton Single Malt Classic Whisky is an exercise in careful balance resulting in an ideal taste experience.
One of our favorite on-premise accounts is La Voile Restaurant. http://www.lavoileboston.net Located on Newbury Street in Boston, La Voile offers classic French cuisine in a comfortable and convenient location. Our products find a perfect home at La Voile include: Armagnacs; Delord, Chauffe Coure, & Marie Duffau, Cognacs; Seguinto, & DuPeyrat, Calvados; Chauffe Coeur & Groult, Pastis La Muse Verte, and Qino One Vodka, the super premium French vodka brand Christine and I created and introduced in 2007.
While the Heavenly Spirits portfolio has distribution in over twenty states, we are our own distributors in the state of Massachusetts. Due to the amount of time that is required to adequately keep up with each account we concentrate on servicing only about thirty off-premise retailers and less than a dozen on-premise restaurants or bars in the state. Restaurants and bars can be particularly demanding costumers that often need last minute inventory at difficult travel times. We appreciate La Voile for always being considerate when placing orders, allowing us a fair amount of flexibility to deliver on time.
The next time you are in Boston looking for genuine French cuisine visit La Voile and tell them Heavenly Spirits sent you.
Held every other year in Bordeaux, France, VinExpo is the largest trade show of wine and spirits in the world. The 2009 edition was the first CC and I had missed since 1995, so it was great to be back this year. We had a full schedule of meetings with mostly great news to report to our producers. We arrived Monday evening to attend a BNIA sponsored event featuring Armagnac in many forms accompanied by some fantastic regional foods. One great discovery I made (though it might seem obvious to some) was how fantastic a good Armagnac (or Cognac) can taste when served on the rocks in a whisky glass in place of a scotch before dinner. I strongly recommend all you scotch drinkers to try it some time. Regional cuisine samplings included; probably the best smoked salmon I ever had, marmite de brandade, fresh oysters and some fantastic desserts. In addition to the fine food, a cigar maker from Gascony was showing off his craft and handing out free samples. In attendance at this soiree were most of the Armagnac industry's biggest and most prestigious importers and producers as well as some top sommeliers and industry writers some of them shown in the photo gallery below. As the top importer of Armagnac in the US, Heavenly Spirits was happy to have the opportunity to hang out and party with this hard working group.
The following two days were taken up by meetings with our producers and discussions of finding even better ways to serve American consumers of exceptional French spirits. We also had an opportunity to walk through what seemed like miles of exhibition halls that featured an amazing aray of the worlds finest wines and spirits. During this walk we spoke with some of the producers of products we might consider adding to our portfolio. The only word I can say about this right now is "aperitif,"... and boy are there some delightful products available that most Americans have never even heard of. Hopefully we will have more to report on this subject very soon.
I will write more about the events and happenings stemming from VinExpo in later installments, but for now I'll just post a few photos and wish everyone a fantastic Summer. Feel free to contact us via email with comments and suggestions.
The 2011 Ultimate Spirit Challenge results were released almost a month ago and I am glad to finally have the chance to share the good news with you on this blog. Submitting our products to the Ultimate Spirit Challenge helps to assure us and our clients that quality remains our top priority. The purpose of Ultimate Spirits Challenge is to identify, recognize and reward those products which stand out in their respective categories, showing superior quality. Multiple panels of the highest-qualified experts blind-taste each entry by classification in appropriately grouped flights within each major spirits category, scoring each on the 100-point scale. Products that scored 90 points or higher are then evaluated blind once again, in newly-created groupings by a different panel of judges. Top scoring products were then reviewed again to determine a select group of finalists with the category’s highest-scorer being awarded a Chairman’s Trophy accolade.
We are very pleased to announce that all the products we submitted to the USC this year did exceptionally well with a few that scored at or near the top of their respective categories.
It was another whirlwind trip to New York, but well worth the trouble as we participated in the Annual VOS Grande Tasting event held at the City Winery. As usual it was a great opportunity for us to show and talk about our products to a wide range of people including retailers, restaurant owners, and many of the VOS sales staff who handle the Heavenly Spirits portfolio.
We also had the opportunity this year to talk with some folks from the media like Gregg Glaser of Modern Distillery Age www.distilleryage.com. If you are in the spirits industry and have not yet seen his on-line PDF magazine you really should. The articles are relevant and the design is clean and up-beat. We also got to talk with Anaïs Digonnet a journalist who writes for the publishers of France-Amerique magazine and Marie, a representative from FRANCE Today magazine.
Of course you could not be in NY talking about Armagnac without May Matta Aliah (In The Grape) dropping by. In this case we happened to find her talking with one of her former wine students.
All in all it was a very worthwhile but somewhat exhausting trip as we drove home to Massachusetts that same night. See more photos in our gallery here.
This past weekend, Heavenly Spirits participated in a wonderful new tasting event sponsored by the MIT Club of Boston at the Royal, located just around the corner from where BLUE MAN GROUP perform. Ivy+ Fine Spirits was an opportunity for MIT Alumni and Grad students to taste some of the finest spirits available in New England while helping to raise some funds for the MIT Club and over $1,400 for Mothers Against Drunk Driving. We were one of only 28 spirit vendors invited to showcase our products and the only one specializing in French imports. Federal Wine and Spirits was the official retailer who made it possible for anyone to order any of the spirits they tasted. The response was phenomenal.
From the moment they opened the doors to the sold out crowd of almost 800 we had people standing four deep in front of our table for the opportunity to learn about and taste our products. One of the top attractions for our table (and for the event I was told) was our La Muse Verte Absinthe. Perhaps it was because we had the traditional absinthe fountain set up and filled with fresh ice water that we slowly dripped into the glasses of La Muse Verte. Folks were allowed to taste it with sugar or without. This very learned crowd wanted to know everything about the history of absinthe and so I obliged as best I could by putting on my college professor hat and telling them everything I knew. Apparently the word spread that we had something more than quality products because folks kept showing up at our table demanding to hear the whole story of absinthe. They also had questions for Christine about Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados and Armorik, our French made whisky as well.
The event ended promptly at 6:00 PM and due to a system of limiting the number of tastings to ten per person everyone seemed to safely walk away with a smile on their face and a glow in their heart. In fact I didn't even see one person who got totally Charlie Sheened, and that is a good thing. Congratulations to Kevin McComber and his team for doing such a fantastic job organizing this fine event.
See our photo gallery for more images of the event.
Heavenly Spirits Ranked as Leading
US Importer / Marketer of Armagnac
According to statistics recently released by the BNIA, Heavenly Spirits of Lakeville, MA is once again credited with the importation and distribution of more Armagnac to the US by volume than any other importer.
Heavenly Spirits LLC, importers specializing in fine French spirits has earned the top US Armagnac distribution ranking for the third consecutive year, based on the importation and sales of a variety of Armagnac brands it represents. These Armagnac brands include Delord, Marie Duffau, Dartigalongue, Chauffe Coeur, and Artez.
What's new this year is that Armagnac Delord for the first time ever is the #1 producer of Armagnac sold in the USA, helped in part by its sister brand, Armagnac Marie Duffau. While sales for Delord have increased tremendously over the past few years, the Delord family remains focused on producing an artisinal product made in the same tradition as their ancestors.
Armagnac sales in general are of course only a drop in the bucket compared to overall Cognac sales. For every bottle of Armagnac sold in the US over 260 bottles of Cognac are sold. Despite this fact, things are definitely moving in the right direction for the oldest spirit in France with a 29% increase in Armagnac sales in the US compared with 2009. Armagnac, along with many other types of artisanal and small batch spirits seem to be trending upward as a new generation as well as baby-boomers seek to explore and educate themselves about what experienced palates drink both before and after a good meal.
We wish to thank our many dedicated distributors and clients as well as our producers for their efforts to expand the Armagnac market. To keep the trend going, we believe Armagnac fans should be the ones to continue spreading the word. Simply put, "If you like Cognac, you'll love Armagnac!"
The BNIA is the official trade office of the Armagnac region in France and according to its web site, “Armagnac is the oldest wine based eau de vie in France. It is produced in the heart of Gascony, Southwestern France, by a single distillation of white wine in an Armagnac alembic (still) and then left to age for many years in oak barrels.”
Just in time for Valentine's Day, we have a wonderful addition to the Heavenly Spirits portfolio, MonLuc, a cheerful sparkling wine from the heart of the Armagnac region in Southwest France. The vineyards are situated at a high altitude on sun-bathed hills. The grapes are Uni-Blanc, and Gros Manseng. The traditional production methode Champenoise is used to blend three vintages with a second fermentation in the bottle.
Light and vaporous with a fizzy temper and a slight lemony note, MonLuc is a very fruity yet dry sparkling wine with bubbles that are thin and soft. Great for parties, aperitifs, desserts or your own very private celebration.
This superb single malt, double distilled whisky made from 100% French malted barley is the first of its kind to be produced in France. Twenty-five years and several prestigious awards later Armorik has found its way to American shores and we at Heavenly Spirits are thrilled to be the exclusive importers for the US market.
This exceptionally well made whisky has everything a seasoned scotch or bourbon drinker will love, including a lightly floral aroma, a soft and honeyed entrance followed by a well balanced touch of spiced wood and citrus, and ending with a lightly smoked and pleasantly peaty finish. Armorik is the result of a very unique aging process, using a majority of refill bourbon casks made from American white oak and finished with some refill sherry casks made of Spanish oak. Jim Murry's 2010 Whisky Bible awarded Armorik 91 points.
As we are just beginning distribution, please contact us for availability in your area.
We have been getting great feedback on the new French Essentials Gift pack / Collector's Edition. It's like a Brandy seminar in a Box, with 200 ML. bottles of award winning Cognac, Calvados and Armagnac. Picture yourself tasting and comparing with your friends after that big holiday meal. Also includes information about each of the artisan distillers who make these wonderful products.
Only 240 of these 2010 collector sets will ever be made. Distribution is limited to locations in Massachusetts and Illinois, but most states can now order through Binnys in Chicago.
Order yours today before they are gone:
By May Matta-Aliah
On Friday, November 26th May Matta-Aliah and Megan Wiig, Armagnac Ambassadors for NY and Chicago respectively, accompanied by 2 writers from the US set off to the magical land of Gascony where distillation was in full swing at the various houses dotting the countryside. Stop Number 1 on Saturday, November 27 was a memorable distillation party at the House of Delord in Lannepax. It was easy to forget where you were, once you stepped inside the garage doors, and were greeted by the sounds of dance music and cocktails shakers. A fabulous band of ladies added to the ambiance, as they rocked the house with their musical interpretations. Food was plentiful and kept on coming till the wee hours of the morning. At 1AM the Armagnac bottles were lined up for tasting, while the Alembic Armagnacais, continuously churning away in the background, reminded us of the magic of time in barrel that transforms this harsh young eau-de-vie into the wonderful richness we were enjoying so many years later. The valiant travelers enjoyed the festivities and danced the night away till 2:00AM. Not a bad way to start a trip!
The 2010 Collector’s Edition of Heavenly Spirits’ French Essentials is here. The gift set includes outstanding examples of award winning spirits from the three main Brandy producing regions in France; Armagnac, Calvados and Cognac. This is the first time these great spirits have ever been assembled in one package.We hope that in the spirit of giving and sharing it will become an annual tradition for us and for those of you who are equally passionate about the art of fine distillation. Happy Holidays!!!
On a whirlwind trip to the Big Apple this past weekend, Heavenly Spirits participated in the first ever Ultimate Cocktails, Spirits & Wine Blast. Held at the New York Marriot Marquis Hotel in the Broadway Ballroom and hosted by Sue Woodley and F. Paul Pacult, it was quite an event. The 1,200 tickets to the Blast sold for around $100 each and they were sold out well in advance. In addition to a festive ambiance, good live jazz music and a nice variety of finger foods the place was packed to the gills with some of the finest cocktails, wines and distilled spirits available in the world. These award winning products were the stars of the show as everyone clamored to get an ultimate taste and perhaps talk with the producers or agents of the libations they enjoyed most.
Click here to see more photos.
Christine and I were busy all night pouring samples and talking with folks who had come to learn about the eight Heavenly Spirits products that rated from Highly Recommended to Ultimate Recommendation in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge held in March of this year. We had pouring help from Calvados producer, Jean Roger Groult who flew in from Normandy and New York Armagnac Ambassador, May Matta-Aliah who was happy to come by and lend a hand.
Our award winning products included: Absinthe La Muse Verte, Armagnac Artez VSOP, Armagnac Delord XO, Armagnac Marie Duffau Hor d'Age, Calvados Roger Groult Pays d'Auge, Cognac du Peyrat VSOP, Cognac Seguinot Napoleon Grande Chamgagne, and Qino One Vodka.
We also had the pleasure of meeting and talking with dozens of New York retailers, and restaraunt owners as well as the industry media and producers from around the world.
Congratulations to Paul, Sue and the Ultimate Crew for putting together such a first class event!
French cocktail made with white wine, armagnac and oranges
Refrigerate all ingredients in a 1/2 gallon container for 24 hours. Remove oranges. Serve chilled in martini glass with small ice cube
We will be offering tastings of this cocktail tonight at Douglas Wine and Liquors in New Bedford, MA.
We just got the news that La Muse Verte, our award winning Absinthe, has the highest rating from BEV MO Club members with a 94/100. This is not the first time we beat out the more publicized competition in a particular chain or market. In our opinion La Muse is the best, and most authentic artisinal absinthe on the market, but it is always nice to hear it from consumers. Because we do not have the marketing budget of some other brands, we rely on thoughtful consumers who taste La Muse and remember how tasty, refreshing and satisfying it is. Our thanks to all the La Muse Verte Absinthe and Pastis supporters out there. Check out the Bev Mo site here CLUB BEV MO and don't forget to tell your friends.
Created in 2006, Qino One Vodka not only supports Fair Trade practices by using Fair Trade quinoa, but we are also adamant supporters of Kiva.org. Launched in selective US markets in 2007, Qino One Vodka immediately received high praise for quality and taste from industry arbiters. In addition to receiving awards from The Chicago Beverage Testing Institute, The San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and an outstanding product evaluation from spirit guru Paul Pacult, Qino One Vodka has the distinction of being one excellent tasting vodka that happens to be made using fair trade quinoa and European rye.
This has been a busy summer for us so far and we've had lots of support from our Massachusetts retailers. Our July 3rd cocktail tasting at Cotuit Liquors was a big hit as customers enjoyed the Raspberry Cape Codder samples we were offering along with tastings of La Muse Verte Pastis and Absinthe. Many of the consumers we talked with had never heard of these popular French drinks but seemed happy to learn by tasting them. We ended up selling every bottle of Qino One Vodka red and blue in the store.
Martignettis of Brighton, MA has been supportive by building the Castle of Qino One Vodka pictured here and promoting it on their sign out front. It's not easy competing against the big industrial vodkas, but once you taste Qino One, you appreciate the all natural, no additive difference. Our Raspberry flavored vodka is so different from other brands who use flavored syrups. Qino One Raspberry is made from 100% natural raspberries macerated in Qino One vodka before being distilled and blended again. Almost no sugar is added. The nose is pure and natural raspberries.
Our summer tasting schedule is always being updated. Tonight we'll be at Corks in Mansfield, MA. Stop by for a Heavenly taste of summer spirits.
As of July 6, 2010 the good folks in both New Hampshire and Oklahoma will be able to buy and enjoy Armagnac Marie Duffau Napoleon. This award winning, great-value Armagnac is the best selling product in the Heavenly Spirits portfolio across the USA. A range of other Heavenly Spirits products will likely soon follow. If you live in one of these states please write us a note and let us know which of our products you would like to see available next. We’ll keep you posted.
Summer Tasting Events
Saturday, July 3, 3:00- 6:00 PM Cotuit Liquors, Cotuit, MA
Heavenly Spirits will be sampling a wide selection of our exceptional spirits and refreshing summer cocktails at one of our favorite Cape Cod retailers, including: Armagnac, Absinthe, Qino One Vodka, Pastis and Rum. Open to the adult public, please come by for a visit.
See www.uncorkedonline.com for more details.
Friday, July 9, 4:00- 7:00 PM Cork's, Mansfield, MA
Heavenly Spirits will be participating in Cork's Friday night tasting event, along with several other suppliers. Open to the adult public, please come by for a visit. We'll be tasting many of our wonderful products, including: Armagnac, Cognac, Calvados Absinthe and Rum.
See www.corksfinewine.com for more details.
Every 700 or so years the folks from Gascony like to get together and celebrate one of the unique things that separates their region from all the others in France. That thing is Armagnac, the oldest distilled brandy in France. This Septicentennial celebration is taking place throughout 2010 in four of the world's major cities; London, Chicago, Moscow and Paris. This past week was Chicago's turn to celebrate and share information about one of the world's oldest and finest spirits. Events started on Thursday June 10th at the South Loop location of Binnys, Chicago's largest retail liquor chain. Brett Pontoni, Binny's Specialty Spirits Buyer was on hand hosting two guest speakers for a seminar on Armagnac. Heavenly Spirits' Christine Cooney and Jerome Delord of the Delord Armagnac house talked about the history and science of Armagnac and shared stories about the Delord family distillery.
On Friday, the Armagnac celebration joined forces with the World Wine Meeting Convention held at the Downtown Chicago Embassy Suites. Events of the day included Armagnac Ambassador May Matta-Aliah conducting a seminar on the subject of Armagnac to a standing room only crowd, a walk-around tasting of wines from all over France, a formal dinner and knighting ceremony. The walk-around tasting included a separate room devoted to Armagnac, representing ten of the top Armagnac producers and over sixty distinct Armagnac products.
The day was capped with a Gascony inspired dinner attended by over 350 wine and spirit devotees. The menu included Foie Gras, Smoked Duck, Confit de Canard, fingerling potatoes, a plate of French Cheeses served with Fig Chutney, and finally a Galette de Pommes. Each person attending found a souvenir French beret on their seat with the Armagnac logo embroidered on the front.
Following the dinner, four individuals were formally knighted into the Armagnac Brotherhood Compagnie des Mousquetaires and presented with sashes, medals and diplomas for their long standing support in representing the quality and history of the Armagnac region and spirit. Two of these inductees were nominated by Heavenly Spirits; Brett Pontoni, the Specialty Spirits Buyer for Binnys and David Soto, Former Spirits Buyer for Sam's and now with Binnys. Both men have done an amazing job in educating their clients and promoting the virtues of Armagnac. For that, we salute them as we recognize their professional dedication, passion, and success.
As the leading importers and promoters of Armagnac in the USA, Christine and I were pleased to be part of such a notable and historic event. We were also pleasantly surprised to see so many industry associates and friends in attendance, for example: Lou Bock, our CA distributor, Ed Hamilton, the Minister of Rum, and Jerald O'Kennard of the BTI in Chicago. And, we should not fail to mention the pleasure we had in sharing the event with some of those great and personable Binny wine & spirit consultants like Joe Maloney and Gregory Fulham. In conclusion, I'd just like to wish Armagnac another 700 years equally as fruitful as the first. Cheers!
EXPLORE ARMAGNAC WITH JEROME DELORD
Thursday, June 10, 6:30-8:30pm
Armagnac is currently experiencing a resurgence in the US, come to this seminar and find out why. Founded in 1893, Delord is the fastest growing brand in the US, and Jerome is the 4th generation of his family to pursue the passion. Jerome will discuss the history of the region while tasting through offerings such as Delord and Marie Duffau Napoleon, Delord XO, Marie Duffau Hors d'Age, Delord 25 year old and Marie Duffau Vintage. $10 W/Binny's Card / $15 non-members. Call (312)768-4400 or email email@example.com for more information.
Each year, the Spirit Journal by Paul Pacult, perhaps the most highly regarded spirit review publication in exsistance, selects the 130 Best Spirits in the World. As part of this year's selection 34 Five Star Bandies made the list, and we are very pleased to announce that four of them are from the Heavenly Spirits portfolio. Are we surprised? Not really, representing exceptional spirits has always been our goal, though it is awfully nice to have our own selection process confirmed by such a well respected source.
Once again, we must credit our suppliers for doing such an outstanding job in producing these fine spirits and thank our distributors and clients for appreciating the quality and value that our products deliver.
Heavenly products that made the 2010 World's Best list include:
Cognac Seguinot, Grande Champagne - Napoleon - named the # 2 cognac of the year
(#1 priced under $400.)
Chauffe Coeur Armagnac Hors d'Age
Delord Armagnac, 25 Years Old
Chauffe Coeur Calvados Hors d'Age
If you have the opportunity to see the the entire list, ( http://www.spiritjournal.com/ )note how all of Heavenly Spirits products represent the best value by far, often competing against products that are four or five times the price.
According to statistics recently released by the BNIA, Heavenly Spirits of Lakeville, MA is credited with the importation and distribution of more Armagnac to the US by volume than any other importer.
That's right, and we did it for the second consecutive year, thanks to all you folks who appreciate quality and value, including our hard working distributors and our amazing suppliers who make such wondeful products. These Armagnac brands include Delord, Marie Duffau, Dartigalongue, Chauffe Coeur, and Artez.
Coincidently, this year marks the 700th anniversary of Armagnac distillation. BNIA sponsored celebrations are planned for cities around the globe including London, Moscow and Chicago, and Paris. For its part, Heavenly Spirits plans to celebrate the 700th anniversary and its top distributor ranking by continuing to promote Armagnac across the US through seminars and tastings in each of the states where its products are distributed. It also has plans to offer various Armagnac related prize give-aways (swag) through social media sites like Face Book and Twitter.
If you are planning any Armagnac 700 years celebrations please let us know about it.
As some of you might recall, Christine and I created and introduced a new brand of super premium vodka in 2007 called Qino One Vodka. The product was well received and earned several industry
tasting awards. Heavenly Spirits is now the sole distributor of the Qino One brand and we are eager to get back to the business of promoting it. This top shelf vodka fits in perfectly with the
rest of our exceptional spirits portfolio. Made in Cognac, France from European rye, and enhanced with distilled organic fair-trade quinoa, Qino One Vodka is a perfect balance of body, style and
When we first started the Qino One brand project, our goal was to go beyond creating “just another vodka.” Our intentions were to create a unique and exceptionally “good spirit,” one that could be enjoyed straight up in moderation or shared in mixed drinks among family and friends on social occasions. We also wanted it to be a product we were proud of and one that gave back in some way to those in the world who were less fortunate. By consolidating the brand ownership, these goals have been accomplished. In 2008 we joined the good efforts of Kiva.org by becoming a lender to disadvantaged entrepreneurs in developing countries. We now plan to increase our level of involvement with Kiva and urge others to do the same through the sales of Qino One Vodka and Qino One Raspberry Flavored Vodka. Starting in 2010, a percentage of all Qino One sales profits will be made available for Kiva loans. If you would like to support our Qino 4 Kiva initiative please continue to buy Qino One Vodka products. Or, you can contact Kiva.org directly by linking to their site in the ad at the bottom of this page.
This week we will be offering tastings of Qino One Vodka, Qino One Raspberry flavored vodka and several of our top rated brandies at Martignettis retail store in Brighton, MA. We will be there from 4: PM to 7:PM on Friday, April 16. We hope to see you there and as always, we thank you for your interest and support.
The VOS Annual Grand Portfolio Tasting event was held at the City Winery in New York on Monday and it was a great success with over fifty producers represented. Well attended despite the rain, we had a steady flow of visitors to our choice location at the bar. Many of the visitors were retailers who already stocked some of our products but they seemed to take great pleasure in sampling the full variety of what we had to share. This included a new product we are very excited about but are still awaiting FDA approval on; Genievre Vieux Malt, which I describe as an old time Gin distilled from 100% barley and aged in oak for 8 years. It is actually considered a vintage as the grain was harvested and distilled in 2001 and the product was bottled in 2009. It is made at the oldest active distillery in France, Claeyssens de Wambrechies. People who tasted this Genievre loved it and couldn't stop talking about it. The big question seemed to be "how to market it." Most who sampled it agreed it tastes like a flavorful, well aged whiskey with a hint of juniper. As a Friday-night Scotch drinker myself, I really enjoy the way this drink can be savored neat or on the rocks. One of the VOS Sales team managers took the time to mix his version of a Rob Roy using the Genievre and it was quite delicious.
Some of the other products VOS carries that we were showing include:
Roger Grout Calvados:
Vieux Calvados - 8 Years
Calvados Venerable - 20 Years
Calvados Age d'Or - over 30 Years
Philippe LaTourelle, Cognac VS
Jules Belin. Marc de Bourgogne
Marrie Duffau - Delord Armagnac:
La Muse Verte:
Absinthe and Pastis
VOS Selection's CEO Victor Schwartz and his team did a wonderful job in putting this event together. We also had a great time at the after event party hosted by Victor and his wife, where we had the opportunity to chat with many of the wine makers who came from all parts of the globe.
We received news this week that ten (10) of our Heavenly Spirits products were awarded prizes from two of the most respected spirit competitions in the world; The San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, headed by Paul Pacult in New York. The biggest prize of the group went to our Calvados Roger Groult, Hors D'age, earning a rare Double Gold medal from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Groult Calvados also picked up a top score in the Calvados category at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, earning "95," and an Extraordinary Ultimate Recommendation for the 8 year old Pays d'Auge.
Another top winner in New York was Armagnac Marie Duffau, Napoleon, earning "95," and an Extraordinary Ultimate Recommendation as well.
While all of the prizes reflect the passionate craftsmanship of our dedicated artisanal producers, they also serve as a positive recommendation for informed consumers to taste and enjoy the exceptional products represented in the Heavenly Spirits Portfolio. Following is a list of this weeks honored award recipients:
Ultimate Recommendation 95/ Roger Groult 8 yr old Calvados, Pays d’ Auge (France); 44% abv, $65.srp
Ultimate Recommendation 95/ Marie Duffau Hors D'Age 12 yr old Bas-Armagnac (France); 40% abv, $54.srp
Excellent/Strong Recommendation 92/ DeLord XO Bas-Armagnac (France); 40% abv, $57.srp
Excellent/Strong Recommendation 91/ Delord Napoleon Bas-Armagnac (France); 40% abv, $38.srp
Excellent/Strong Recommendation 90/ Sequinot Napoleon Cognac Grande Champagne (France); 40% abv, $78.srp
Excellent/Strong Recommendation 90/ Distillerie du Peyrat VSOP Cognac (France); 40% abv, $60.srp
Excellent/Strong Recommendation 90/ La Muse Verde Absinthe (France); 68% abv, $62.srp
Very Good/Recommended 88/ Sequinot VSOP Cognac Grande Champagne (France); 40% abv, $50.srp
Very Good/Recommended 86/ Qino One Vodka (France); 40% abv, $25.srp
An Evening of Armagnac
Tuesday, March 16, Miel Restaurant, Nashville, TN
Heavenly Spirits will be participating in "An Evening of Armagnac," where Christine will be presenting an informational tasting of five outstanding Armagnacs, France's oldest and some would argue finest distilled spirit. This event will be hosted by the fabulous Miel Restaurant Bistro in collaboration with Horizon Wine & Spirits, our Tennessee distributor. Come help celebrate the 700th year of this wonderful French spirit. Reservations are required for this sit down event. For more information see http://www.mielrestaurant.com/
VOS Selections' 2010 Grand Portfolio Tasting
Monday, March 22, City Winery, New York, NY, Noon -5:00PM
Heavenly Spirits will be participating in the much anticipated VOS Selections' Annual Grand Portfolio Tasting event, along with several other international suppliers. Unfortunately, this event is only open to the trade, but if you have a restaurant or retail store in the New York metropolitan or upstate area please come by for a visit and a taste. You can register at the door. See www.vosselections.com for more details.
We just heard from Jerome Delord that the celebrated house of Delord has just received another award for the art of distilling, this time from the Concours General Agricole in Paris for the Delord Hors d'age (XO). The award was a gold medal, which once again confirms the high level of quality the Delord products are known for.
Armagnac is the oldest spirit in France, celebrating 700 years in 2010. It must be nice for the hard working Delord family to know that after all these years, they are doing it as good or better than everyone else. We at Heavenly Spirits are proud to be representing such a fine house of artisinal spirits who are so dedicated to their craft. Ask for the Delord XO Armagnac at fine establishments near you or contact Heavenly Spirits for more information.
There was a real buzz in Westborough, Ma yesterday, as football fans descended on Julios Liquors in preparation of Super Bowl Sunday. Julios has one of the best selections in the State of beer, wine and exceptional spirits for all occasions. They carry a good amount of products from the Heavenly Spirit portfolio and are doing a fantastic job with them.
It was a pleasure to set up a tasting table there yesterday and get to know some of their clientele as well as their excellently trained staff. We offered tastings of one Cognac; Godet VS, three Armagnacs; Marie Duffau Napoleon, Delord Napoleon, & Artez Folle Blanche VSOP, one Calvados; Chauffe Coeur VSOP, our Peardise liqueur, and Absinthe La Muse Verte. We took a lot of questions about the differences of Armagnac and Cognac and had fun talking with all who came by. An unofficial poll of tasters showed an even split on who these New Englanders were rooting for in the Superbowl. Most predicted a high scoring "spirited" game.
The weather couldn't have been more appropriate for our Cognac vs. Armagnac Brandy tasting; a day long New England snowish rain turned into an evening of rainish snow as we began comparing some of our finer cognacs and armagnacs for a group of almost twenty brave souls who came to listen and taste. Gordon's Tasting room, in their Watham location is as perfect a place as any I've seen for this type of tasting seminar and the staff was very helpful and attentive in assisting us. As Christine talked about the differences between the two French brandies, it was clear we had a relatively experienced, knowledgeable and good-natured crowd on hand. All together we tasted two cognacs; our new organic Cognac du Peyrat, VSOP and Cognac Seguinot Napoleon. We followed that with three armagnacs; Artez Folle Blanche VSOP, Armagnac Delord Napoleon, Chauffe Coeur VSOP, and finally, for a kind of refreshing ending, we tasted our Absinthe La Muse Verte, both with and without sugar. We heard great comments afterward and trust everyone made it home safely.
Hats off to my incredible wife, Christine, for the Babette like feast she threw together despite a bad back, to help us bring in the New Year. To be fair, it was at my urging that she began to imagine this incredible spread on Tuesday. She then bought all the ingredients on Wednesday and spent all day Thursday cooking and preparing. Here is how it unfolded starting at 8:PM New Years Eve: As the dozen or so adult guests arrived and gathered around the kitchen island, we started them with a cocktail which Christine assembled, shook slightly with crushed ice and poured into assorted martini glasses. The name of the cocktail that inspired the one we served is “Queen Bee,” and it was created by Neil Kopplin, bar manager of Carlyle Restaurant, Portland Oregon. Christine’s variation uses white Armagnac instead of vodka, so I’m going to call it a “Queen Bee - Christine.” Take White Armagnac, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, maple syrup, shake lightly with crushed ice and strain into martini glass. Top off with sparkling wine. Garnish with lemon zest curls. As we sipped this deliciously refreshing nectar we began grazing on assorted starters like Mediterranean olives, lightly salted mixed nuts, grape tomatoes, and approximately ten different imported cheeses hand picked by Christine at Whole Foods, including: Brillat Savarin, Conte, Edel de Cleron, Emmental, Goat Brie Montchevre, Goat Gouda, Manchego, Petit Basque, and St. Nectaire.
Before anyone got carried away by the Queen cocktail, we offered a choice of white wine: Sauvignon Blanc, from Sterling Vineyards - 2007, or Chardonnay, from Chalone Vineyards 2008… and then invited everyone into the dinning room buffet for the second round of eats; Hama chi Tartar, served on delicately thin rice crackers, Balsamic caramelized onion tart, a platter of Smoked Salmon and Trout, Seared Sea Scallops served on a bed of baby spinach, with a dribble of apple cider shallot reduction, and two choices of soups; Classic French Onion, deglazed with 15 year old Calvados served with homemade toasted croutons and sprinkled with shredded Swiss cheese, and a Cream of Cauliflower soup, topped with crumbled bits of baked prosciutto flakes, served in mini glass tea cups. Sophie, one of our guests, brought a beautiful salad of spinach and artichoke hearts. Kathy added a plate of grilled shrimp skewers on a bed of asparagus spears with a creamy garlic egg white dip. Christine advised us all to pace ourselves so as to remain ready for the main course which would follow. Believe me, this was difficult to do.
Per our request, each guest brought a bottle of red wine and as a result, we ended up with quite a decent line-up to select from, including: three Malbecs – Andeluna 2007, Colores Del Sol Reserve 2008, Graffigna Reserve 2007, two Pinot Noirs – Kendall-Jackson 2006, Beringer 2006, two Zins – Rosenblum XXXI cuvee, Gnarly Head 2007, a California Cab – Toad Hollow 2004, and both a Meritage and a Shiraz from Sterling Vineyard. “Gnarly” is right!
The third wave of this amazing New Years Eve feast included a Roasted leg of Lamb stuffed and encrusted with a half inch thick blanket of bread crumbs, mushrooms, shallots and herbs, a Champagne Risotto with prosciutto and asparagus tips (recipe from our good friends the Ackermans), and more asparagus spears served in melted butter on the side.
At the stroke of midnight we toasted in the New Year with flutes of Moet & Chandon, compliments of our guests Carol and Cameron. Dessert was then served and included: a very tasty Tarte a l’Orange from the recipe file of Christine’s Tata (Aunt) Nennette, as well as some Oeufs au lait, homemade individual custards topped with fresh raspberries and coulis served with a thin, crisp almond cookie from Trader Joes stuck into the top. To accompany the dessert we served a choice of more champagne or Floc de Gasgone, a dessert wine from the Armagnac region and finally, a short coffee. (note: Teenagers in attendance were only allowed to drink nonalcoholic sparkling cider, water, or juice.)
By this time (1:00 – 2:00 AM), everyone had migrated to the living room and was spread out around the glowing fireplace, when to help with our digestion Christine presented a hand-picked selection of exceptional cordials and spirits, including award winning brandies from the Heavenly Spirits portfolio; Cognac Seguinot XO, Armagnac Delord 25 yrs., Armagnac Delord 1969, Calvados Chauffe Coeur 15 yrs., Calvados Roger Groult 40 yrs., as well as a few of our favorite liqueurs; Canton ginger, Godet Pear, and Cream Shery Zuleta. She even pulled out one of the few remaining bottles of Eau de vie de Amedee, distilled from plums on her Grandfather’s farm over forty years ago. For us, Christine’s Feast was a great way to bid adieu to a year that we would mostly like to forget, and to usher in the promise of much better things to come. Christine and I would like to thank all of our friends, associates and customers for their continued support, and to wish you all a very positive, prosperous, healthy and happy 2010. We look forward to seeing you on the journey.
Cheers! Daniel & Christine Cooney
On Wednesday, December 30, 1:PM - 4:PM, come by, and say hi at Lukes Super Liquor Store in Yarmouth, MA . http://www.capecodwines.com/winecellar/location.htm Lukes is one of the premier suppliers of Wine and Spirits on Cape Cod. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff are always available to help you with your selection. We will be tasting Cognac Godet, Cognac Seguinot, Armagnac Marie Duffau, and our new Pearadise liquor, made from pear and cognac.
On Tuesday, January 19, 7:PM - 8:30PM, sign up for our spirits seminar to learn everything you ever wanted to know about Cognacs and Armagnacs, at Gordons Wine & Spirits in Waltham, MA. http://center.gordonswine.com/contentmgr/showdetails.php/id/11205 Gordon's unique Culinary Center has a wonderful reputation for sharing and learning and we are pleased to be presenting there. We will be tasting a variety of Cognacs and Armagnacs and finishing with a very special absinthe imported exclusively by Heavenly Spirits. There is a $15.00 fee for this seminar.
We have been busy doing as many tastings as we could fit in to our busy schedule this past week. While at Yankee Spirits on Thursday, Anthony who is part of the helpful staff there in Attleboro introduced me to a real Double Arrogant Bastard (beer). It actually is sold with a little pad lock and key, (I guess to keep other bastards out). We hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season and keeping it safe by drinking in moderation. cheers!
We are back from our three day stay in Chicago where we met some great folks interested in learning about French Spirits. On Thursday we were at the Grant Avenue Binnys Managed by Ken Jursa. We were invited to set up a table and serve as a kind of finishing point for a fine wine tasting of Grand Cru Bordeaux and a few Sauternes. I even had the rare opportunity to taste a creamy smooth Yquem Sauternes - 1995. Unbelievable! As I was sipping it, I kept thinking, "Where is the foie gras?" At our Heavenly Spirits table we sampled the participants on four different Armagnacs; 6, 10, 15, and 25 year old, all from the Delord distillery in Lannepax, France, and two different Calvados; an 8 year old Roger Groult and a 6 year old Chauffe Coeur, both from the Pays d' Auge region. In addition to that, we had our LaMuse Verte Absinthe Fountain set up and talked to the tasting crowd about the myths and mysteries of absinthe.
On Friday night we were scheduled to give a two hour sit down tasting seminar at the Highland Park Binnys, on French Spirits, featuring Armagnac Marie Duffau 1st Cru along with some of the selections from the previous night. When we arrived at the store, we were happy to find that Manager, David O' Sullivan, and Assistant Manager, Jason Lawrence and crew had sold out the 31 seats available for the seminar and that they were still turning people away only a half hour before we started. It was a lively and good natured group, who asked a lot of pertinent questions. It served as a good reminder to us of why we love this business. One of the attendees, Justin, a wine and spirits writer of Grapevine Consulting told us that he is constantly aware that each one of these fine libations is the result of someone's artistry, passion, and dedication to the craft of distillation. We could not agree more, as this is the exact point that we try to communicate in each of our presentations. Distillation is an Art and we are proud to be representing some Heavenly Masterpieces. Our plan for 2010 is to book more of these tastings and seminars for those who want to learn more about this tasty and distinct Art.
For more photos see our picture gallery page.
Come to Binneys, Highland Park Store in Chicago for a
HEAVENLY SPIRITS SEMINAR
Friday, November 6, 6:30-8:30pm
Sample our wonderful French Brandies, Armagnac and Calvados. Join importers Dan and Christine Cooney, of Heavenly Spirits, for a sit down seminar featuring eight great examples of fine Armagnac and Calvados! Reservations are required. $5 W/Binny's Card / $10 non-members.
|Call (847)831-5400 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.|
Cognac Distillerie du Peyrat: organic Cognacs
Distillery du Peyrat produces exclusively organic Cognacs. Located in a small village 10km from Cognac on the banks of a river, du Peyrat produces, distills and ages eaux de vie with the respect of the environment and the intense expression of the “terroir”.
The Cognacs are certified organic by the strict European official organization Ecocert but they are not yet certified in the US. The production of fine natural Cognacs is truly a question of patience, but the Distillerie du Peyrat knows how to wait... the family has been transmitting its know-how generation after generation since 1705!
We selected the VSOP 6 years old.
Available at the end of October.
Christine enjoyed a successful visit to Atlanta last week, where in addition to visiting with our Georgia distributor, Quality Wine and Spirits, she participated in their Annual Grand Portfolio Tasting. This is the second year for us in Georgia, and this is always a first class event. Christine was pouring samples of six Heavenly products, including La Muse Verte absinthe, which was all set up with a cold water fountain, absinthe spoon and sugar cube to help create a proper louche.
Artez, a small producer who owns 12 hectares in the Western part of the
Bas Armagnac, where the iron-rich sands (sable fauves) give eaux de vie
whichare supple in their youth and show a great finesse. The vines are about 40 years old and the vineyard is planted with Baco, Ugni and the famed Folle Blanche. The uniqueness of this producer
is to make single varietal eaux de vies and we will be importing the 100% Baco and 100% Folle Blanche.
Available in October.
Spirit Journal founder and spirit tasting expert, Paul Pacult has recently tasted and reviewed our Seguinot Napoleon Grande Champagne Cognac and awarded it with his highest rating, five stars. His review appears in the September 2009 issue of the Spirit Journal, (http://www.spiritjournal.com/).
Also reviewed in the September issue is the Seguinot V. S. O. P. Cognac which earned a “Highly Recommended” four star rating, as well as our Calvados Roger Groult’s 8 year old Pays d’Auge which also earned a “Highly Recommended” four stars. We are thrilled but not surprised at the news. The entire Heavenly Spirits portfolio has been carefully assembled for the unique qualities, and craftsmanship evident in each of the products we represent. It is indeed satisfying to have such an affirmative confirmation from someone as well regarded as Paul Pacult. The Spirit Journal, one of the industry’s most respected review forums, is published in print only, on a quarterly basis and it does not accept advertising. Check back to read the full reviews which we will be posting here on the site.
Christine returned late Friday from a week of Armagnac promotion on the waterways of two of America’s great cities; New York and Chicago. Both events were well attended and the nine Armagnac producers who crossed the Atlantic to share their distillations with America had a wonderful opportunity to do so. The group included: Chateau De Briat, Castarede, Delord /Marie Duffau, Comte De Lauvia, Domaine Du Tariquet, Semple, de Montal, Chateau De Laubade, Darroze, and Cles des Ducs.
Both events, included educational seminars, tastings, dinners and lots of networking opportunities among producers, distributors, retailers and members of the press. Some of the conversation centered on next year’s seven hundredth anniversary of the very first distillation of Armagnac, the oldest French spirit on record. The National Bureau of Armagnac is already in the planning process for promotional celebration events at home and abroad. We will keep you posted.
One of the nicest aperitifs you’ll ever experience is Floc de Gascogne. Made in the Armagnac region of France by marrying approximately two parts regional grape juice with one part Armagnac, it weighs in at 17% alcohol by volume and is a wonderful way to get your appetite started. Very much in the same tradition as the Cognac region’s Pineau de Charante, it is also served as a dessert wine or even as part of the dessert itself. My favorite way to eat a small ripe melon for example is when it is cut in half and filled with either Floc or Pineau. The particular Floc that Heavenly Spirits is bringing in is produced by the award winning Delord House in Lannepax, France. Famous for the quality of their Armagnac, Delord is the second most sold Armagnac in the US. We look forward to sharing this wonderful wine with all of our clients and friends this summer.