An extremely popular and widely available spirit from a well-known brand … Is Hennessy’s Very Special Cognac a brandy worthy of a whiskey enthusiast’s consideration? Pop culture would lead you to believe so, but I have my doubts.
Pour: Hennessy V.S. Cognac
Age: not stated (at least 2 years)
Color: dark amber
Nose: boozy punch, fruitcake
Taste: raisin bread, honey-glazed orange
Finish: moderately short w/ bread pudding, grape liqueur
Overall: While Hennessy V.S. meets the definition of Cognac, it drinks like a liqueur – sweet, syrupy, and completely lacking in spice. One could sip it neat and potentially appreciate it, but personally, I find it best suited for cocktails and cooking.
Joseph Magnus Triple-Cask Finished Bourbon is the flagship expression of Jos. A. Magnus & Co., a DC-based brand resurrected by descendants of the historic Cincinnati whiskey wholesaler. The talented Nancy Fraley, master taster, is responsible for each blend. On deck, batch 96.
Pour: Joseph Magnus Triple-Cask Finished Bourbon no. 96
Age: NAS (reportedly 12 years)
Color: rosy amber
Nose: chocolate raisins, nutty vanilla, blood orange
Taste: toasted brown sugar, ripe plum, pipe tobacco
Finish: caramel-brandy, black walnut, lingering smoky leather
Overall: Delicious. For a finished whiskey, Joseph Magnus maintains enough bourbon character to brandish its 12-year (MGP) origin. Not “over-sherried,” and gentle on the cognac influence, it’s notably complex, harmonious and balanced. Well done, Nancy.
Rating: Fraley’s Comet.