Grand Marnier has been around for a few hundred years now and I’m sure you’ve tasted some of their line, but most likely not with their Master Distiller Patrick Raguenaud.
This past Thursday I was fortunate enough to taste the entire line including the new Quintessence.
Making the Grand Marnier is pretty simple, or so it sounds. There are only 3 ingredients: orange peel essence, Cognac and refined beet sugar.
The oranges that are used are Citrus Bigardia (wild bitter orange) from the Caribbean. Peels are then removed and dried out in the sun. Next, the dried peels are put into a tank with water to soften the peels and separate the pith. After this, the peels are placed in a 96% ABV container to macerate for 3 weeks and then the alcohol is put into pot stills. The spirit is then concentrated to keep the “essence of orange” to be used later in the final product.
The traditional red ribbon mark that is on most back bars has a rich orange nose. There’s some brown sugar and burnt orange on the palate. Orange blossom, honey, violets and young Cognac show up as well. The finish is acidic with a long lasting finish.
The Cognac used in the Cordon Rouge is from Bon Bois and Petite Champagne, with the youngest being 2-3 years old in the final product.
Cuvee du Centenaire
This release is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the House of Grand Marnier. It has a very floral orange peel nose, more so than the Cordon Rouge. It’s richer, full bodied and weighty. Great honeyed range and Cognac flavors. Tropical fruit, nutmeg and toffee finish off the journey. This is my favorite release that Grand Marnier has right now.
Cognac’s in this bottling come from Grand and Petite Champagne regions. The minimum aging is 25 years in this bottling, with high oak flavors with some long pepper.
Cuvee du Cent Centenaire
This is the 150th anniversary celebration bottling of Grand Marnier. Once again orange and honey dominate the nose. There’s more oak, honey, rich Cognac and some almonds.
The Cognac’s used in this bottling come from Grand Champagne and is between 30-35 years old. Dark, nutty brown in color, rich oak, wood tannins and some bitterness attack your palate. It then becomes fat, rich with some dark chocolate.
This is Grand Marnier’s newest release. This liqueur has double distilled essence of orange (2 distillations of orange peel) to concentrate flavors and add more emphasis on citrus flavors.
It’s a rich dark brown color with a clove studded orange nose. Heavy on the spices; clove, all spice, cinnamon with orange blossom, lime zest and lemon peel. It finishes beautifully with orange oil and fresh cut flowers.
I was very fortunate to be able to taste some of the Cognac that goes into this liqueur. A blend of Cognac’s from 1906 and 1913 go into this. They’re all from the Grand Champagne region in France. It’s absolutely amazing. Hints of orange, salted toffee and butter cream are on the nose. Light salt and sweetness, apricot, peach and orange peel on the palate.