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BEST of the BEST 2014 | Leisure | Spirits: Courvoisier l’Essence Year of the Horse

  • Richard Carleton Hacker

In 2010, the House of Courvoisier’s fifth master blender, the now-retired Jean-Marc Olivier, created a lasting legacy known as l’Essence. This formidable blend contained more than 100 rare eaux-de-vie dating from the early 20th century, 1970s, and 1980s, all of them selected from Courvoisier’s historic Paradis cellar. Golden bronze in color, this spirit’s almost fathomless depths teem with essences of licorice, toffee, bread crust, and caramel, and its bouquet lingers in the snifter long after the last drop has been drained. A limited edition of this exquisite Cognac is being presented this year only, to honor the Year of the Horse. Bottled in a Bac­carat decanter framed in a soft leather harness and engraved with the image of Napoléon Bonaparte mounted on his steed, Courvoisier l’Essence Year of the Horse (www​.courvoisier.com, $3,500) is topped with an ornate crystal stopper inspired by Napoléon’s signet ring. Only 700 bottles have been produced; a mere 66 of these are destined for the United States.