Fortunately, my sense of taste and smell has now fully recovered since my corona infection. At least that’s what I believe. Of course, there is always some subjectivity to statements like that, which I had recently already reflected here. Nevertheless, this circumstance plays not an unimportant role today, because I have not really dared to try some spirits since then. One of them is the one in focus today: a cognac matured in Japanese Mizunara casks. (provided test product)*
Cognac and Japan – what a liaison. Anyone who knows a little about culinary realms and spirits will immediately know that we are dealing here with a category and a culture that, so to speak, form the spearhead in the area of subtle and finely complex aromas. In this respect, this is definitely not a topic that I wanted to tackle in any form of dubious condition. But now the time has come and I take a look at the Park Cognac Mizunara Cask.
This one comes from Maison Tessendier, where they traditionally make cognac in double distillation on six pot stills. The grapes for the Park Cognac Mizunara Cask were harvested from the terroir Borderies, which is the smallest cru in the Cognac region. Subsequently, this Cognac was also double distilled according to the Charentais method. This was followed by a maturation of four years in French oak barrels, ten months of which were spent in fresh oak barrels. Finally, the cognac is finished for another six months in Japanese Mizunara Casks before finally being bottled with an alcohol content of 43.5% vol.
So what does such a fine drop taste like?
Aroma: Oh yes, this is a multi-layered and extremely appealing aroma that you should definitely take your time with. There is quite a bit here in the glass and it slowly rises to the nose: Spicy notes from the oak immediately combine with dried fruit to form a very pleasing base. Violets, cinnamon, a sweetness of raisins, lemon peel and some lilac are all in the mix. In time, berry notes also emerge, making for an incredibly multi-faceted cognac.
Taste: Also on the palate, the Park Cognac Mizunara Cask can convince with a complex and very impressive flavor profile. Here – first again – the dried fruits combine with a fine vanilla. I can find spices (especially cinnamon), plums, violets, a little black pepper and hints of forest honey. But then there are more “fresh” notes, reminiscent of lemon zest, perhaps even fresh apples. You can easily move the cognac around in your mouth for a very long time and certainly always find new impressions.
Finish: very long, aromatic and with complex oak tones.
Wow, this is truly a great cognac, no question about it. Now what do you do with such a nice drop behind the bar? Not necessarily anything, because for neat enjoyment this spirit is of course quite sufficient. But since I’ve never been one of those who consider high-end spirits unsuitable for cocktails, I’d like to make a simple suggestion here, too. Namely, an Old Fashioned style drink that still leaves enough room for the cognac to develop. For this I made a little plum syrup and added a very exciting bitter to the drink: the Dr. Sours #2 Café de Olla. If in doubt, you can replace it with other coffee bitters (or Angostura bitters in a pinch). The drink goes by the name: Dream of a Butterfly, which is a reference to a fable by the Chinese Taoist and philosopher Chuang-tzu that is very famous in the Far East. And because I find the passage in his work Zhuangzi so beautiful, I would like to share it here as well:
“One night, Zhuangzi dreamed of being a butterfly — a happy butterfly, showing off and doing things as he pleased, unaware of being Zhuangzi. Suddenly he awoke, drowsily, Zhuangzi again. And he could not tell whether it was Zhuangzi who had dreamt the butterfly or the butterfly dreaming Zhuangzi. But there must be some difference between them! This is called ‘the transformation of things’.”
(Zhuangzi , Chapter II, “Discourse on the Identity of Things”)
Recipe “Dream of a Butterfly”:
6 cl Park Cognac Mizunara Cask
0,75 cl plum syrup (see below)
1 bar spoon Umeshu
2 dashes Dr. Sours #2 Café de Olla (in case of emergency: other coffee bitters or even Angostura Bitters)
Plum syrup: bring water, sugar and halved plums roughly in a ratio of 1:1:1 to a simmer in a pan and leave on very low heat for at least 20 minutes. Then remove the pan from the heat and let the syrup cool. Remove the plums (they are delicious), pour the syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate. It will keep for several weeks.
Preparation: Pour all ingredients into a glass over solid ice and stir briefly.
Garnish: one sliced plum or alternatively none
Buying sources: at specialized retailers or online
*The fact that this product has been sent to me free of charge for editorial purposes does not – in any way – imply any influence on the content of this article or my rating. On the contrary, it is always an indispensable condition for me to be able to review without any external influence.