Fancy a cognac? How about Grand Marnier? Do you even know the differences between the two? I would say my knowledge was quite limited, and so recently we signed up for a Grand Marnier master class with no other than the infamous Patrick Raguenaud. Mr. Raguenaud joined Grand Marnier is 2004 as a master blender. Being involved in the cognac industry has been a family affair for hundreds of years prior. Since taking over his family distillery, Mr. Raguenaud has been actively involved in educating clients about the unique product and the passion behind it.
This event was hosted by Raw Bar, at Hotel Arts here in Calgary. An hour and a half class was followed by a thirty minute tasting of four cognacs, and their corresponding Grand Marnier that they’re involved in making. It’s interesting to note a few things:
1) Grand Marnier itself is comprised of cognac and an orange essence. The more orange the flavour, the less cognac included, and the less aged the cognac is. For example, your typical grand Marnier is made up of 51% cognac, 18% orange essence, and 31% natural spirit, whereas the highest end bottle of Grand Marnier, the 1880, is 91% cognac and only 9% orange essence. This cognac is also aged for thirty-forty years. The taste and quality is apparent.
2) The oranges used for Grand Marnier are of the green variety. They’re picked prior to ripeness and are rehydrated during the maceration process. This helps to intensify and maintain a specific orange flavour.
3) Canada is the second largest market for Grand Marnier after the United States, which is why they feel it’s so important to come and educate everyone!
This class was run by the Campari Group. If you ever have a chance to attend a class again that they run, I definitely recommend it.