Delamain Pale & Dry XO Centenaire
Brand : Delamain
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On the eye it is light to mid gold, with an orange/ light brown hue; the nose is elegant, with fruity notes of raisins, vanilla pod, apricot, grapefruit, citrus, fresh fig, a little rancio and leather; the front palate is light, naturally sweet, intense flavours of apricot, dried fruits, tingly on the tongue and then finishes with a lovely dry, smooth, long length. Just so light and smooth in the mouth. Regarding food pairing, Dominique Touteau (chef de cave Dominique Touteau) says that, in his experience, Pale & Dry works best with trout carpaccio, really mature cheddar and crème brulee and not just as a traditional digestif.
Made with a blend of eaux-de-vie from grapes grown in the Grande Champagne town of Bellevigne, this blend is an evolution of Delamain's XO, created to celebrate Pale & Dry's 100th anniversary. This is a more intense Cognac than the standard bottling, with heightened flavours and a slightly higher ABV.
Since its launch 100 years ago Delamain Pale & Dry XO has become a classic cognac for the on trade as well as aficionados worldwide. Its conception and success owed as much to the horrors of the First World War that preceded its launch as it did to the creative explosion of the Roaring Twenties that followed. To celebrate its first century and to reinterpret Pale & Dry for another 100 years meant changing very little. But what Delamain has changed says a lot about how the house sees the development of the cognac market.
“We thought long and hard about how to celebrate Pale & Dry’s centenary, we did not want to have a new taste or any gimmicks, and ironically having spent time re-visiting its roots and the ethos of its creators we have become very comfortable with the notion of change within the construct of Pale & Dry as it currently exists.” (Charles Brastaad managing director and ninth generation of the Delamain family)
Delamain’s house style is terroir-based, trying to be the purest expression of Grande-Champagne, and allowing that fruit to shine through without being masked by wood or sugar. In fact, the insistence on zero added sugar or colouring was directly linked back to the cognac’s origins, as an ‘ode to nature’ resulting from the First World War. As with all their blends it does not use colourings or sweetener, and it uses older cognacs to reduce alcohol levels and not water as is customary in some other houses.
So what has actually changed? The key decision was to change the intensity of the spirit – increasing it from 40% abv to 42% without changing the flavour profile. The new strength it is argued shows better intensity and allows the natural sweetness to come through on the palate. The aromas and flavours of this iconic cognac are intensified – it is still very recognisably Pale & Dry with the same citrus notes and vanilla and its signature mouthful of dryness.
“I think we will move away from the solitary experience of the fireside armchair to the more everyday social home experience… cognac will hopefully be less reserved for exclusive social and professional occasions and more interwoven into everyday eating and drinking,” Brastaad says.