Cubans

Published on June 4th, 2019 | by Ken Gargett

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Cohiba Secretos Maduro 5/Hennessy Master Blend 3 Cognac

As I think I mentioned in a recent Kenfessions, I was down to the last of the Rob Selections (to the powers that be, that is, of course, not a big hint or anything like that, unless you decide to take it that way – otherwise, we can all look forward to more matches with the PL Belicosos), the Cohiba Maduro 5 Secretos. 

I recall that Rob and myself and a few others were in Havana in early 2007 for the release of the Maduro range (well, technically we were not there for the release, we were there at that time and the release just coincided) – the little Secretos, the mid-sized Magico’s and the larger Genios. 

I checked out my own stock recently and I have one of each. Sadly, not one box of each, but one cigar of each. They must have given us a little presentation box with one of each at the event for the release. It still sits in the humidor. But I did buy a box of the 07 Genios. I can only assume from this that, at the time, it was the Genios that most impressed me. And the recent one was a cracker.

But so was this Cohiba Maduro 5 Secretos. Sadly Rob did not have age details, so we’ll never know, but it was beautifully constructed with a dark wrapper. It was quite powerful for the small size but terrific. Dark plum and chocolate notes. Intense and with excellent persistence. A lovely little bomb of flavour. Dark berry on the palate. Very smooth. My impression was that while I enjoyed this, I would much prefer it in a larger size. And guess what… 

Anyway, for me, 94. 

To match, Hennessy Master’s Blend No 3. Colour of old honey and teak. Powerful aromatics. Walnuts, cinnamon, nougat, orange rind. Complex. A Cognac with great length. It is possibly more powerful than some might like but I have always found that if you think that of a brandy/Cognac then add a splash of water or an ice cube. The palate has orange rind, teak notes, hints of clove. For me, this lit up with the addition of an ice cube. Helped smooth the slightly rough edge. And it extended the length. A fine Cognac. Okay, not absolutely top shelf, but I enjoyed it. certainly, in the upper echelon. 

A good but not utterly brilliant match. But certainly an enjoyable and more than serviceable one. 

The Hennessy Master’s Blend No 3 might be new to some. Hennessy is one of the oldest and most famous of all the Cognac Houses, having been with us for more than 250 years. These days, it is part of the mega-empire, LVMH (as indeed the named implies – Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy). Kudos to LVMH as they have, I believe, tipped in some 200 million Euros to the fund to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral. 

The House rather bizarrely describes this Master’s Blend as ‘jovial’. If anyone can enlighten me on what a jovial Cognac is, please do so. They also state that it was introduced “for no other purpose than complete freedom of expression”. Which is terrific but who or what was preventing that in the first place or at any time in the past 250 years? It is, apparently, “designed to be a personal statement, composed for no other reason than the pleasure of intimate creation”. Sure, I imagine that the bottom line played no role at all. But I guess whatever the PR blurbs may claim, and they are so far more moderate than some of the stuff I have seen, in the end, it is what is in the bottle.   

The Master’s Blend No 3 is a single batch Cognac and the first of this type made by their 8th generation Master Blender, Renaud Fillioux de Gironde. 8th generation. Think about that! Renaud succeeded his uncle in 2017. 

More from the PR supremo – it is “unique and innovative by virtue of its hand-selected blending process. It is composed exclusively of high-quality eaux- de-vie with great potential that have been set aside specifically to be used at the Master Blender’s discretion”. Fair enough, but I suspect a few of the other Houses might claim a similar ‘uniqueness’. Also, it’s “characterized by… gourmandise”. Again, I look forward to assistance in understanding that. They also claimed a note of ‘French sponge cake’. Quite seriously, I wonder if French sponge cakes are different to normal sponge cakes? I have no idea but I would be interested. 

The eaux-de-vie used in the blending are at least seven years of age and it was bottled at 43%, ‘also known as “cask strength”’. We do agree that it is best enjoyed neat or “over large rocks”. 

But what makes this worth chasing, aside from the fact that it is undoubtedly a very fine Cognac, is that is a genuine single batch Cognac and is never to be replicated. They have, in the typical tradition of Cognacs from many Houses, provided packaging of the appropriate quality. 

A cigar and a Cognac, both worth chasing. And a pair which do work well together. 

KBG

(Apologies for the stock images on this one. We lost some files in transfer.)

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