FrontRunners: Time in a Bottle

The venerable Cognac house of Louis Royer has recently unveiled a remarkably old Grande Champagne Cognac. While VS, VSOP, and XO Cognacs are aged a minimum of two, four, and six years, respectively, this limited-edition offering matured in the cellars on the bank of the idyllic Charente River for 38 years. Its considerable age, however, is only one of the attributes that set it apart from similar bottlings. Most Cognacs are a blend of many eaux-de-vie originating in several different districts of the Cognac AOC, but Louis Royer 38 Years Grande Champagne Cognac ($450, www.louis-royer.com) is bottled from a single batch of eau-de-vie that was distilled from wine sourced exclusively from the preeminent Grande Champagne cru and selected for its superior quality. The result is an exceptionally smooth, delicately perfumed, and radiant copper-colored spirit that features spice, walnut, hazelnut, and cocoa notes.    

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