Hine Cognac…Fine Cognac

Photo by Espen Klem @ flickr creative commonsFor almost 250 years, Hine has been making some of the finest Cognacs around.  The house was first established in 1763 in Jarnac, France by Thomas Hine’s father-in-law.  When his father-in-law passed away, Thomas, originally from Dorset, England, took the reins and worked hard to expand the company.  In 1817, Thomas renamed the company Thomas Hine & Co. after himself.  Unfortunately, he died of pneumonia a few short years later, but not until he had gained a reputation the world over for producing consistently exquisite Cognac.  Six generations later, the company is still a family run business, and remains faithful to the principles set over 2 centuries ago by Thomas Hine.  Their simple motto: “Produce little; but make it perfect.”  Since 1963, Hine has been the only Cognac house to have the honour of holding the Royal Warrant to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

What makes Hine Cognacs so special?

The House of Hine produces excellent blended Cognacs that are sourced fromPer Even Allaire, Hine's Global Ambassador fewer than 50 growers, all from the well-known Grande and Petite Champagne districts.  Hine is also acknowledged worldwide as the specialist in Vintage Cognacs.  A Vintage Cognac is made only in exceptional years, and only in limited quantities, which can explain their cost.  Hine is known for ageing their Cognacs much longer than legally required and longer than many other producers.

Hine also continues the tradition that began in the 19th century of sending a few casks of each vintage to England to age in the chalk cellars of Bristol.  Known as ‘Early Landed’ Cognacs, their different flavour lies in the climate, explained Per Even Allaire, Hine’s global ambassador.  Bristol has overall cooler temperatures that remain quite steady, and the humidity is rarely below 95%, resulting in less evaporation of the liquid than in Jarnac where the air is much drier and the temperatures fluctuate more.  As a result, the Cognacs aged in Bristol will be fresher and fruitier and may even have slightly floral notes .  Jarnac-aged Cognacs, subjected to more evaporation and oxidation, are rich and complex, with a distinctly woody character.

Timothy Hine & Co. CognacA Tasting of Fine Hine Cognacs:

Hine Rare VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac:  Fine Champagne means that it is a blend of Grande and Petite Champagne Cognacs, with at least 50% coming from Grande Champagne (not to be confused with the famous sparkling wine region, Champagne – a completely different place).  This is a blend of more than 25 Cognacs, the youngest of which has aged more than 6 years.  This is Hine’s most delicate Cognac with aromas of orange peel, caramel, and jasmine.  Mellow and smooth. ($86.15)

Hine Homage Grand Cru Fine Champagne Cognac:  A blend of three ‘Early Landed’ vintage Cognacs (1984, 1986, 1987) aged in Bristol and some extra old Cognac aged in Hine’s cellars in Jarnac.   Per Even described the Homage Cognac as being an introduction to a wider audience of the style of Early Landed Vintage Cognac.  Homage Cognac has fresh aromas of orange peel, ripe apple, and butterscotch. ($144.95. To be released at the LCBO September 20, 2012.)

Hine 1er Cru Antique XO:  Antique XO was first released about 100 years ago.  To celebrate this anniversary, Hine has made Antique a Premier Cru, a blend of over 40 Cognacs exclusively from the Grande Champagne region.  The youngest Cognacs in the blend are at least 20 years old while the oldest have been aged for several decades.  This opulent and delicious Cognac has complex aromas of rich caramel, baked apple, apricot, spice, sweet honey, and licorice.  ($226.75)

Hine Cigar Reserve Cognac:  Created in 1996 for the cigar connoisseur.  A blend of 4 regions: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois.  Powerful and bold, Cigar Reserve has pronounced aromas of smoke, gingerbread, caramel, baked apple, and loads of spice.  ($129.95.  To be released at the LCBO September 20, 2012.)

Hine Vintage 1964 Grande Champagne CognacHine Vintage 1964 Grande Champagne Cognac:  This is a previously unreleased Vintage Cognac that was aged 25 to 30 years in barrel in the Hine cellars in Jarnac. Incredibly complex, a flood of aromas sweeps you away each time you nose it – chocolatey-caramel sweetness, an array of spice and baked fruit.  A soft and silky texture with earthy and spicy fruit flavours on the palate.  Very long and lingering and delicious.

Hine Triomphe CognacHine Triomphe Decanter Cognac:  The 50 or so Grande Champagne Cognacs that make up this blend were selected and put aside 50 and 60 years ago.  Exquisite and complex, this Cognac has soft and sweet aromas of vanilla, creamy caramel, and butterscotch, with candied orange peel, and a delicate floral note.  Round and lush on the palate with a smoky spiciness on the lingering finish.  ($830.  To be released on November 19, 2012 as an LCBO Classics Online Release.  Only 20 bottles available in Ontario.)

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