Some will be a bit
confused about what Rémy Martin V is, but two things are clear about the
newest release from the venerable Cognac house Rémy Martin: It's
utterly transparent and it's going to set the mixology world to work
creating new cocktails.
You may be tempted to call Rémy V a Cognac or even a vodka. It's neither. While the new spirit, which has been test marketed and will roll out in wider distribution in July, is made in Cognac, it can't fall under that brandy appellation as it is not aged. And as for vodka, V has too much flower and fruit to fall into that "odorless, tasteless" category.
What Rémy is calling V on the bottle is "distilled grape spirit." The company might also call it an eau de vie (a clear, unaged brandy) and the name (pronounced as the letter "v", not the Roman numeral "five") is a hint to that.
The director of Rémy Martin Cognacs and Estates, Vincent Geré, says that the purpose of the clear spirit "is to have an innovative spirit with the potential to mix." He adds that it is a reaction to nightlife and cocktail culture that has swept America in recent years. "It became clear that we had a role to play."
While not utilizing the two-and-a-half years of aging required to make a Cognac, the company did follow many of the exacting methods it uses in making its other products, including distillation on the lees (deposits of residual yeast) and pot-stilling. (Vodkas are typically made in column stills.) The product also uses the Rémy Martin standard of using only ugni blanc grapes grown in the Cognac regions of Grand Champagne and Petite Champagne.
Gere credits the grape selection with having a large effect on the final product. "We used dedicated vineyards with only two things in mind: unique aromas and textures." He says that the fruit came from two top crus, distinguished by their level of expertise. "There are grapes, and then there are grapes."
The cold filtering method that the company used also helped retain the grape character in the drink, he says. V is filtered at 14 degrees Fahrenheit, with the aim of a reducing a hazy character that alcohol can take on in shipping and handling. This is similar to a practice used in most Scotch whisky.
The ministrations certainly worked. While clear, V is a spirit with much character. The mouth feel is rich and smooth and it has distinct aromas and flavors. In a sense it's more like a flavored vodka-except that its subtle flavors occur naturally in the drink and are not added.
Rémy has worked with renowned mixologists to formulate drinks to be made with V, some of which follow. We would also suggest using it in place of gin or vodka in established cocktails, as the Gimlet, Screwdriver, Martini, and Bloody Mary, or mixed with sodas such as quinine tonic or bitter lemon.
Rémy Martin V (40 percent alcohol, 80 proof, $40)
APPEARANCE: Obviously, it's clear, but also notable are the extremely slow, delicate legs that ease down the glass, reflecting inherent body and rich mouth feel.
NOSE: Pears, citrus (primarily oranges), hard candy, some flowery wine notes, bread dough and slight mint.
PALATE: Pears and oranges continue to the mouth, joined by honey, and lemon drops.
FINISH: The end notes, while informed by honey, pears and grape, are more structured and savory with a slight hint of Stilton cheese. Surprisingly long finish, with a burst of tangerine minutes later.
1 1/2 oz. Rémy Martin V
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. simple sugar
1 drop rose water
4 muddled, seedless grapes
Muddle seedless grapes along with a bit of simple syrup in a mixing glass. Combine remaining ingredients, except sparkling wine. In a mixing glass add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with sparkling wine and stir in grape skins as a garnish.
1 1/4 oz. Rémy Martin V
Dash of nutmeg
Combine all liquids over ice in a highball glass and lightly dust with grated nutmeg. Serve with a wedge of lime.
2 oz. Rémy Martin V
3/4 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. sweet Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Combine all liquids over ice in a mixing glass. Stir for 25-30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with orange twist.