Experiencing A Full History Of Grand Marnier With Patrick Raguenaud
Patience. Lots of it.
That’s what it takes to develop something of real quality. Taking your time with each step of the process to really craft it into the desired completion.
In order to make something to stand the test of time and make all of that patience worth it, you must first look at what you can do to make your crafted product stand out.
Grand Marnier has these values really stapled into their long history. The fundamentals of Grand Marnier stem from their environment. Or should I say environments.
The founding father of Grand Marnier, Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, spent time in two very important places that would completely carve out their place in history, Paris and Cognac.
After spending time in both places, he had a sense for both city and country and their values, harmony and importance between both vastly different mindsets. The city wants something sociable, the taste, the atmosphere, while the country wants to craft, artisanal values and naturally rich living.
In my opinion, combining both of these environments were vital to the allure and success of Grand Mariner. The values of Cognac are instilled with the production of the French cognac, while the twist of orange added to the blend is something that had the city talking, for well over a century.
Tasting Grand Marnier With Patrick Raguenaud
I was invited to a special tasting of Grand Marnier with a very special host, all the way from France, Mr. Patrick Raguenaud. Patrick Raguenaud is the master blender of Grand Marnier, responsible at the moment for every bottle being produced and the current future projects of Grand Marnier. After talking with him, you can sense he takes great joy in this industry. He has worked on French cognacs and spirits for over 30 years, with his most recent 15 years with Grand Marnier.
We started the experience with some knowledge of the area of Cognac, France, and how Grand Marnier has evolved into the spirit it is today. The process to create this spirit, especially in Cognac, is filled with standards to adhere to for every aspect of its process, from grapes to the final product. It seems very strict. But, that level of standard creates a beautiful result.
I asked about the use of Orange into the mix and why oranges in general?
It’s still a bit of a mystery of why the bitter orange decision was made so early, but when you mix the two together, it adds a smoothed harmony to the spirit. A camaraderie between the two very different flavours. Almost has an ‘opposites attract’ feel to it. Even though other blends have been created and different fruits used, the orange flavour still remains a flagship throughout the entire lineup.
Patrick then took me through the orange flavour to isolate it. I had a chance to take a dried bitter orange, snap it in half and smell the aromas of orange used in the blends of cognac. As soon as you smell the orange, you can notice it throughout the blends once you taste them.
After working my way up from the classic Cordon Rouge as a baseline, you start noticing the subtle differences in comparison. You start tasting where some flavours came and went, which flavours are present, which are subdued, which notes are extended and which pulled back.
We had a privileged opportunity to try the cognac of each blend without the orange tasting notes added. That was a really great way of showcasing how much of a difference the orange flavour made.
The Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge is a good place to start because suddenly when you jump to the Grand Marnier Louis-Alexandre, the flavour of orange gets pulled back, while the cognac flavour is a bit more mature and showcased.
Leading up to the Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire 100th, you start to find that the orange flavour present again with the mature and complex aged cognac more pulled back.
What I found interesting is that the amount of orange that is being blended into the different versions does not change. It’s actually just the maturity of cognac playing nicer or somewhat over-powering the flavour of orange.
Moving away from this beautifully crafted range, we sidestep into a different league altogether with the Grand Marnier 1880 Marnier-Lapostolle and Grand Marnier Quintessence.
Both incredibly mature and complex spirits.
Grand Marnier 1880 Marnier-Lapostolle is made exclusively with Grande Champagne, one of the most distinguished, growing in the Cognac region.
It is less sweet than the Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire 100th, but still has hints of the wild orange flavours on its profile.
The Grand Marnier Quintessence brought proud emotions to Patrick’s face.
He was reminded of a memory in New York City, where the Quintessence was first introduced. All who were present in the room tasted it at once, took a moment of silence, and then applauded Patrick and the work that his team on a very spirited beverage. In my opinion, this is the one. This is the Grandest Marnier to treat yourself with upon a large milestone, celebration or victory. It is a victorious spirit that has carefully crafted orange and even lemon flavour notes to hit and expand your palate with sophisticated flavours.
The Bottom Line
I love brands like this because they have to think decades ahead.
Everything from how you rest spirits, taste, prepare what’s needed, it all matters and gets amplified over years and years of careful development. Not to mention, you have to create something that’s worth having, a flavour that is classic to the category. It’s all something that is brought together from both city and country by its roots.
A distinct flavour that has set them apart in many ways while being used to highlight or be a subtle compliment to delicious and matured cognac.
It was a privileged tasting experience with Patrick Raguenaud. I was happy to share an experience with such an important person in spirit crafting today.
A definite highlight was having the cognac by itself, and in many cases, could definitely stand up on its legs and be its own spirit. However, you can really tell how important the mixing and blending of orange really brings to the complexity and maturity of the cognac.
Beautifully mixed, wonderfully curated. The grand vision is brought together with the sum of its parts. A yearly view compiled from the sum of small moments, every time you enjoy. So live grand and make every moment grand. They will sum up to a much bigger and crafted life.
For more information about Grand Marnier, visit their feed.
Thank you for reading.
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