King Cognac: Courvoisier XO Royal a spicy tribute to recipe once favoured by royal courts of Europe

Courvoisier XO Royal in its teardrop bottle before some nice plants

Award-winning cognac House Maison Courvoisier has expanded its range of premium offerings with Courvoisier XO Royal, a spicy tribute to a recipe once favoured by the royal courts of Europe.

The new liquid was unveiled at a London launch at Hide, and naturally TLR was on hand for an early tasting, held under the tutelage of Courvoisier Chief Blender Thibaut Hontanx.

The new expression adds a level of depth to Courvoisier’s signature style, and recreates a heritage recipe once favoured by regal palates in the early 1900s, hence the Royal appellation. The good news is that this is not a limited edition, but a permanent addition to the Courvoisier portfolio.

To create Courvoisier XO Royal, Maison Courvoisier’s Sixth Chief Blender, Patrice Pinet has married Fins Bois cognac from Jarnac with a selection of carefully selected Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie. 

The new expression adds a level of depth to Courvoisier’s signature style, and recreates a heritage recipe once favoured by regal palates in the early 1900s…

Courvoisier Chief Blender Thibaut Hontanx hosts a tasting session with XO Royal

Courvoisier XO Royal is packaged in a teardrop decanter, an homage to the Maison’s Fourth Chief Blender, Daniel Dumon, who introduced the original Courvoisier XO in 1984. It features a gorgeous glass stopper, with facets that represent the maximum age of the eaux-de-vie in the blend.

“The shape reminds me of a particular time in the vineyard, after winter, when the vine has been cut, and you can see the buds coming. They’re shaped like a little tear,” says monsieur Hontanx (pictured above). “It’s a sign that it’s going to bloom, a new grape is coming –  a sign that fun is about to begin!”

The original concept behind XO was to evolve Courvoisier Napoleon, “to go deeper”, recalls Hontanx. The addition of cognac Fins Bois added a little extra spice to the blend, and enhanced floral notes. With XO Royal, Maison Courvoisier has taken that approach to another level. ABV is 40%.

On the nose, there’s the aroma of truffles, plus wood from the barrels. On the palate there’s cinnamon spiciness, enhanced by rich, plummy eaux-de-vie. Imagine honey, lemons and pineapples, baked in a tart.

XO Royal is not as gloriously dry as Courvoisier’s premiere expression, L’Essence de Courvoisier, but there’s comparable levels of complexity. Could this be the best value premium cognac on the market?

Courvoisier XO and XO Royal in glasses

For the launch, Courvoisier XO Royal was paired with guinea fowl roasted over charcoal with ceps, liver parfait and black truffle, or wild mushrooms and autumn vegetables with black truffle and lemon thyme. The partnering was suitably imperious, albeit not easily replicated at home.

Courvoisier XO Royal is available now, priced at £280 a bottle. UK stockists including Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Master of Malt. 

About Steve May

Creator of Home Cinema Choice magazine, and editor of The Luxe Review, Steve muses and reviews for Trusted Reviews, T3, Yahoo UK, Home Cinema Choice, Games Radar, Ideal Home, Louder Sounds, Channel News and Boat International. He’s also the editor of professional home cinema website Inside CI. He's on Twitter and Instagram as @SteveMay_UK

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