Best of the Best 2012: Spirits: Grand Marnier Quintessence

Not since the 1977 launch of the Cent-Cinquantenaire that celebrated Grand Marnier’s 150th anniversary has there been a liqueur from the Marnier Lapostolle family of such depth and thoroughly haunting flavor as the aptly named Grand Marnier Quintessence (www.grand-marnier.com, $800). Created by master blender Patrick Raguenaud, Quintessence is a limited edition of just 2,000 bottles, half of which will be sent to the United States. This resiny, citrus-laden copper-amber liqueur is a blending of 20 Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie, sourced partly from the Marnier Lapostolle Bourg Charente Castle paradise; their ages range from 25 to 100 years, and they include a number of 1906 and 1955 Grande Champagne Cognacs selected for this onetime offering. After blending, these Cognacs are distilled with macerated bitter-orange peels, whose intensity is enhanced by the family’s proprietary "double parfum" rel="nofollow" distillation. After being aged for one year in small French-oak casks, the 80-proof Quintessence takes on the taste of creamy spiced oranges, exotic fruits, and light oak. The bottle itself, rather than being handpainted like the Cent-Cinquantenaire, is a clean, crisp glass outline similar in shape to the Cordon Rouge bottle, which symbolizes the copper pot stills used in the creation of this magnificent digestif.

Photograph courtesy of hotel Matlali
Savored rather than shot, these tequila-based beverages give the spirit the respect it deserves…
Photo by Holly Houk
Contrary to popular opinion, not all Havanas are stellar stogies. Here is how to make the most of...
Sommeliers have their own version of the desert-island question: If you could drink from only one...
These aged tequilas prove that the once derided spirit has come into its own…
The limited-edition distillation pays tribute to the Norse god Odin…
The spirit distinguishes itself by employing Japanese ingredients and techniques…
Photo by Jeff Elkins
The cigar combines an Ecuadoran wrapper with Honduran and Dominican filler tobaccos…
Worldwide talents are leaving their marks at a Provençal winery.
Only 250 cases of the Montecristo Grupo de Maestros Private Batch will be released…
A special barrel of Scarecrow Cabernet Sauvignon stunned the wine world when it sold for $260,000...