Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Cognac Review: Park VSOP

As with most cognac houses, Park's VSOP expression is the next step up from their entry-level VS (though they also have an Organic Fins Bois that is comparably priced).

In keeping with the upgraded profile, the VSOP is constructed from 40% Fins bois, 40% Petite Champagne, and 20% Grande Champagne grapes, filled into 400 L fresh lightly toasted barrels for eight months, transferred to used casks, then blended and bottled at 40%, probably with various adjustments and chill filtration. The L13 bottling code on the neck makes me assume that this was put together in 2013, which would be consistent with how slowly specialty bottles move in Oregon.

Cognac Park VSOP

Nose: darker than the VS - caramel, maple syrup, a rounded creaminess, light toasted oak, cinnamon and woody baking spices, a little green grass, gently floral. After adding a few drops of water it shifts towards the oak, grass, and something a little funky (hard boiled eggs?), but it also has even less intensity.

Taste: syrupy maple sweetness up front with both grape and cask character, a little citrus peel around the middle, some grassy/hay notes in the background that grow stronger toward the back, drier but not particular tannic going into the finish. After dilution it becomes softer and sweeter, but less syrupy, with a thick layer of caramel throughout, a floral overlay around the middle, and some mixed fruit with light oak tannins coming out around the back.

Finish: slightly cardboard-y oak, flat grape notes, caramel, lingering vanilla and grapefruit

While this is a clear upgrade from the VS in terms of smoothness and richness, I was somewhat disappointed that there wasn't much of an improvement in complexity. While it's a more engineered product, I think Rémy Martin VSOP is a big upgrade over this.

In a Sidecar the nose is balanced between orange from the liqueur and floral notes from the cognac. The sip opens with grape and orange sweetness, backed up by a touch of aspirin bitterness, then fades into bittersweet orange with some oak tannins at the back. The finish continues the orange notes with some cognac roundness arriving.

That was... not bad. While not the most characterful cognac, the VSOP does manage to hold its own here and keep the weird parts of the Ferrand Curaçao in check. While it's a little expensive for mixing, I'm willing to say that this is a fairly solid pick.

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