The Whisky Exchange
Aged: No age statement
Product of: France
Blue Swift is “the first-ever spirit drink made of cognac VSOP and finished in bourbon casks.” Let’s be blunt about this, Blue Swift is a ‘cognac’ finished in bourbon barrels so the Cognac bureaucrats won’t allow it to be called cognac, hence Martell have been forced to call it a spirit drink
At the April 2018 launch of Blue Swift, Christophe Valtaud (Martell’s Cellar Master) told us that its development was driven by US marketeers who sought something distinctly different that took advantage of Martell’s very large stocks of VSOP cognac. We tried to pin him down on exactly how long Martell’s VSOP cognac (aged 4+ years) is finished in the bourbon barrels. His reply, “A few months – the exact time is a secret, but less than six months.”
More telling is that Christophe also said that the level to which the bourbon barrels have been toasted (degree of charring) is key to the success of the finished “spirit drink” (AKA cognac) and that they experimented with barrels from numerous distilleries before finding those which gave the most harmonious result – a marriage of Martell’s fruity character with toasty bourbon vanillins. The question is, what exactly is that level of char?
Why the name Swift? Well, a swift has been an icon for Martell for decades and it is particularly appropriate for this “spirit drink” as the swift is a bird that’s able to fly for days without stopping. It can traverse oceans such as the Atlantic. Incidentally Martell, whose brand colour is of course blue, was the first Cognac house to ship casks of its cognac to the United States in 1783. So, it’s kind of fitting that it is also the first Cognac house to ship bourbon barrels back in which to age its cognac.
Review and Tasting
Sampled on 02/05/2018
Clear, deep coppery amber.
Prune, baked apple, crème brûlée, violet blossom, flambéed peach and toasted nuts.
Toasty oak, baked apple, ginger spice, vanilla fudge, burnt caramel, sweet ripe plum and peach.
Lightly spicy caramel and prune finish. Fades with baked apple pie and sweet peach.
A ‘cognac’ finished in bourbon casks - bring on the mint juleps and Sazeracs - and if you do you’ll find the results are excellent. Indeed, Mattias Lataille, makes his excellent Classic Symphony, a Mint Julep inspired Sazerac, with 50ml Blue Swift, 5ml sugar syrup (2:1), 1 dash orange bitters, 2 dash Peychaud’s Bitters, 4 mint leaves and 1 lemon zest, stirred together with ice in a mixing glass and then served in a chilled absinthe rinsed glass (without ice). This is a cocktail ‘cognac’ rather than a sipping cognac, although it is balanced and quaffable with toasty oak, baked apple, ginger spice, vanilla fudge, burnt caramel and sweet ripe peach. But more than that, Blue Swift is a “spirit drink” that dares to challenge the fusty bureaucratic rules of Cognac.
The Whisky Exchange
Bottle Size: 700 ml
Closure: Agglomerated cork stopper
Type of vessel used for main maturation: Barrique (Cognac Type) 300 Ltrs
Type of wood used for additional maturation 'finishing': American Ex. Bourbon