Centuries-old Cognac collection heads to auction

20th January, 2021 by Nicola Carruthers

Five rare Cognac bottles with vintages ranging from 1777 to 1914 will go under the hammer at the end of January.

The five rare Cognacs were part of Jacques Hardy's private collection

The five rare Cognacs were part of Jacques Hardy’s private collection

The bottles from 1777, 1802, 1812, 1906 and 1914 come from a private collection from the late Jacques Hardy, part of the Cognac-producing Hardy family.

Each Cognac comes with a certificate of authenticity penned by Hardy. The current owner of the Cognacs purchased them directly from Hardy in 2003.

Described as the ‘jewel of the collection’, the 1777 vintage was given to Jacques’ uncle, James Hardy, on his wedding day by his in-laws, the Yvon family. The liquid was distilled at Domaine de la Vie in the Grande Champagne area, and aged in an oak barrel for around 100 years. It was then moved into a demijohn and bottled in 1936.

On the certificate of authenticity, Jacques wrote: “Despite its importance, in your glass, this Cognac will show its aroma of a smooth bouquet and of the blossoms of vine flowers in June in Charente.”

Sukhinder Singh, co-founder of The Whisky Exchange and Cognac collector, said the 1777 vintage was one of the finest Cognacs ever bottled.

He said: “I am pleased to have tried this around 10 years ago when it was available at The Lanesborough Hotel in London. What a privilege it was to taste such old liquid that was still fresh and full of life with the lingering rancio flavour that you find in pre-phylloxera Cognac.”

Jacques and his brothers received 12 bottles each of this vintage, which were consumed by his brothers, while Jacques kept his allocation. Two of the bottles were obtained and opened at The Lanesborough Hotel, while another five bottles remain in private collections.

Meanwhile, the 1802 vintage was made with Folle Blanche and Colombard grapes, grown in the Petite Champagne region. Jacques noted that the Cognac could be distinguished by its “great finesse and subtle aroma”.

The 1812 vintage was made from Colombard and Folle Blanche grown in the Borderies area of Cognac, and carries a violet perfume scent due to the grapes and soil of the region. The bottling also marked the year in which Napoleon invaded Russia.

Described as Jacques’ favourite vintage, the 1906 was said to be “elegant on the nose and excellent on the palate”. It was also noted for its rarity as it was an eau-de-vie from a single cru, from a single vine grower and a single distiller.

Finally, the 1914 vintage marked a memorable year for the original owner as his father fought in World War One and recounted stories of the battle.

Jacques said of the bottling: “Like me, you will appreciate its elegance and its finesse. Old local winegrowers confirmed this judgment, stating ‘those 1914, there is nothing better’. I hope that you will confirm my opinion after you tasted it.”

The auction will run from Sunday 31 January until Tuesday 9 February on the Whisky.Auction website.

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