A report by Hannan Tan-Gillies for The Moodie Davitt Report.
In 10 January 2019, ten sealed casks of Camus Cognac reached Bridgetown on the Caribbean island of Barbados after 45 days of sailing aboard the tall ship De Gallant. But the conclusion of that sea trip was not the end of the story; in fact it marked the beginning of another journey.
After a year and a half of further tropical-climate maturation — under the care of Foursquare Owner and Master Distiller Richard Seale — the one-of-a-kind Camus Caribbean Expedition Cognac has now concluded its double maturation process.
The one-off experimental series will be limited to 4,500 bottles and released through key selected retailers. 1,000 bottles will be available for sale en primeur from 1 September to 27 September.
As reported, the expedition was launched to explore the possibilities of maturing Cognac in oceanic conditions. The aim was to create an “unprecedented taste profile” by allowing the Cognac to undergo the process of ‘sea maturation’; an 18th century and early 19th-century practice of exporting Cognac around the world by sea.
The De Gallant sailed from the port of La Rochelle, France on 23 November 2018 and reached Bridgetown port on 10 January 2019, making stops in Gijon and Tenerife.
The expedition was launched in partnership with TOWT, an eco-conscious transportation company that specialises in the transport of goods by sailboat. Since its launch, TOWT has saved a total of 185 tonnes of CO2 by travelling 48,000 miles and delivering 400 tonnes of products using wind energy.
When the ship set sail, the barrels contained liquids with a 48% ABV. already in their fourth year of ageing. The casks were exposed to multiple environmental factors during the voyage, including the ship’s constant motion, the oceanic climate influence, and atmospheric pressure within the oak barrels.
The Camus Caribbean Expedition Cognac was kept in traditional Bajan cellars, with the casks stacked on top of each other during the tropical maturation period. After analysing the finished product, Camus discovered that the wood tannins gave greater structure and complexity in tropical climates. This showed a significant aromatic evolution in the liquid due to the higher temperature and humidity in Barbados.
The Camus Caribbean Expedition Cognac offers intense fruity aromas of banana and pear, complemented by spicy accents of cocoa bean and nutmeg. Camus described the result as ‘a first in the world of Cognac.’ The Cognac is presented in a special cylindrical bottle with visuals that represent the two places that book-ended the journey, the ports of La Rochelle in France and Bridgetown in Barbados.