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Having developed an unprecedented process for heating its barrels, the Larsen house is launching a very original wine brandy, and already finding commercial relays.
This is called steaming the sails of a longship. Called Aqua Ignis, the new label for Larsen cognacs is the “first spirit in the world aged in steam toasted barrels”, summarizes Jérôme Durand, the chief executive of the company (a subsidiary of the Finnish distributor Altia).
Having developed its own toasting of the wood (“bousinage” in French) technique after four years of research, the Charentaise house has patented it and deploys it exclusively in its AOC Cognac range.
“The initial idea is to create a very obvious and gourmand cognac. Both in the expression of fruit (which characterizes the Larsen house) and wood (with aromas of vanilla),” says David Croizet, the master blender of Larsen Cognac.
To optimize the extraction of vanillin during the aging of its eau de vie, the cooper specialist has developed a tender and long toast from 250-liter fine-grained barrels that come from the Allier forests. To prevent the wood from catching fire, the 225-liter barrels were immersed for ten minutes in hot water before being placed for forty minutes on a brazier. Repeated three times, the operation calls a “low temperature cooking”, sums up David Croizet. He is fully satisfied with the result: the extraction of a maximum of fruit and a minimum of tannin (the long heating degrades the tannin and transforms them into sugars).
Not constituting a finish but an aging as it is, the aging in this steam toasted barrel is placed in the second phase of aging, on already assembled eau de vie. The aim is to amplify the fruity aspect of its eau de vie, which is exacerbated by a final alcoholic strength of 42.3. “We reveal what is present in Cognac,” specifies David Croizet who wants “something obvious compared to a finish that can be subtle.”
“This product is intelligible to the consumer. It is not so subtle that only connoisseurs can grasp it,” adds Jérôme Durand, for whom Aqua Ignis “is our current champion”. With a selling price to consumers of € 45 to € 48, the new label contributes to the dynamic distribution of the Larsen house, creating new markets in France (notably Nicolas wine merchants), in Germany (with an opening by July) and in Russia (where the brand is relaunching).
“We have an innovative role, that’s our raison d’être,” estimates Jérôme Durand, seeing in the condition of an intermediate-sized cognac house the opportunity to animate the category and “to address itself to lovers of rums and malt drink. We broaden the scope of consumers by providing them with experience. We are taking a step aside in binding constrains.”
Embracing the innovative leeway existing in AOC Cognac, the Larsen house claims a form of “Artisanal Intelligence”, concludes Jérôme Durand.
Based on the materials of vitisphere.com