My Favorite Things: Cognac

The end of February always drives me to drink. I hate the colorless world which greets me at the end of winter. One of my favorite winter drinks is a snifter of fine cognac to sip. This is also the time of year when the perfume I own which has cognac in it find their time to shine. Here are five of my favorites.

Banana Republic Black Walnut was a perfume which challenged my perfume snobbery. By the time I walked in to the store at my local mall I expected to be underwhelmed. What I found was a simple mixture of cognac, tobacco, and cedar. Perfumer Harry Fremont could have named this “Cigar Bar” and it would have been as accurate.

A more creative version of cognac and tobacco comes from House of Cherry Bomb Tobacco Cognac. Independent perfumers Alexis Karl and Maria McElroy. This is the indie flip side to the commercial quality of Black Walnut. Tobacco Cognac does everything just a bit better and adds in the rare ingredients of ambergris, oud, along with a fabulously viscous honey accord. This is that secret hideaway where pleasures are more complex.

Pierre Guillaume Liqueur Charnelle is a pure cognac accord. I enjoy these perfumes where the pieces of the accord come forth individually until they all snap together. When Liqueur Charnelle does form the cognac accord it is a monument of the skill of perfumer Pierre Guillaume. I know how good it is because Mrs. C accused me of spilling cognac on myself while I was wearing it.

Krigler Established Cognac 66 is one of the most unique perfumes I own. Ben Krigler forms a rich cognac accord which he makes the nucleus of an outstanding gourmand style of fragrance. To do that he surrounds that boozy heart with apple, caramel and a fabulously odd banana. I am always reminded of having a decadent dessert prepared tableside with a whoosh of flaming cognac.

You might not think a cognac brand would also be a perfume brand. Frapin manages to straddle both worlds. It is no mistake that their first perfume, Frapin 1270, was an abstract version of what it smells like in the cellars where cognac is made. Perfume Sidonie Lancesseur creates the milieu from the sharp scent of the grapes, the woods of the barrel, a hint of the mustiness of the cellar. It carries a more transparent aspect of cognac as this is more what goes into it rather than the final product. I think this is one of Mme Lancesseur’s best perfumes of her career.

Instead of drink the winter away join me in sniffing it away.

Disclosure: This is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

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