It’s not often that a new spirit succeeds as completely as Grand Marnier’s Quintessence, but here it is in all its densely perfumed glory: The venerable house’s first new product to be released since the Cent-Cinquantenaire hit the market in 1977.
Quintessence is built on a blend of over 20 different Cognacs, all from the Grand Champagne zone, with a special reliance on Cognac from 1906 and 1955. Blending is followed by the maceration of bitter oranges and a double-distillation, a process unique to Quintessence known as “double parfum.” After all this comes the cask-aging, which lasts for a full year prior to release. Quintessence will be available in September at a price of $700 per bottle. My tasting notes are below.
An absolutely stunning amber color is your first hint that this is going to be a seriously elegant spirit. And, indeed, this is accurate advertising: The expected notes of orange are all here, but it’s more than just some vaguely citric note: This is dense orange, Platonic Ideal orange. The genius here is that Quintessence is not just a delivery vessel for the fruit, but, rather, a carefully assembled spirit that also allows the supremely high quality of the Cognac to shine through with beautiful, perfumed notes of whole vanilla pod, spice, and a vague hint of sandalwood. The palate delivers too, first sweet, then spicy, then a wave of deliriously good orange creme brulee that washes over the tongue and lingers for nearly a full minute. Pay attention and you’ll find flashes of everything from marzipan to white chocolate to kumquat here, as well as the vanilla and spice of the nose. When it all finally fades, you’re left with a lingering hint of tropical fruit and gorgeous orange, pure and simple and perfect. Texturally, this is as velvety as it gets, a tongue-coating treat that never devolves into heaviness or inelegance. If you can spend the money for this, it’ll reward your expenditure deliciously.