Okay, so maybe I’m a snob and a purist for saying this but some things should simply be left alone as they are perfect the way they are. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I would also like to add that Cognac is my all time number one favorite spirit in the whole world. That’s not to say that Vodkas and Tequilas and Rums and Scotches and Gins and numerous other distilled delights are not close to my heart but Cognac rules my heart. All that being said, you would not be wrong in guessing that the original Grand Marnier is one of my favorite drinks. It is a perfect mixture of Cognac and bitter orange and sugar and is a pure delight on the rocks. I would never even think of mixing it with something else. I like it that much.

The venerable house of Marnier-Lapostolle, whose distillery was founded way back in 1827 in Neauphle-le-Chateau near Versaille, produces Grand Marnier. And now these guys are messing with success by introducing Grand Marnier Cherry.

My first noseful lit up my brain like a Christmas tree and above it in blinking neon lights were the two words: cough syrup. Upon a secondary sniff, I certainly sensed the deep essence of ripe cherries and the background of Cognac but the first impression was still overpowering. This nose is intense, powerful and heady. There is nothing subtle about the aroma. It simply slams into your nose with the power of a left hook. This may be one of the most intense noses I have ever sniffed.

The first straight up sip substantiates the first sniff and my mouth involuntarily screams cough syrup. After taking a few Valiums and doing deep breathing exercises and some Yoga, I returned to the Grand Marnier Cherry and attempted to taste it objectively. There is absolutely nothing subtle about this liqueur. The cherries are fruit forward, huge, jammy, over the top and in your face (literally). It’s like jamming a handful of large, over ripe, deep red cherries in your mouth and biting into all of them simultaneously, at the same time and all at once and experiencing all that full throttle flavor in one insane heartbeat. There’s also a bit of citrus and wood all followed by a contrasting yet very pleasant sharpness from the Cognac. The finish is long and thick and fruity with a bit of a tingle. If this really were cough syrup, it would definitely be my favorite cough syrup.

Since it’s really a liqueur, I have to say that it is one mighty potent liqueur with a huge flavor profile. I don’t know that I could drink this hooch straight up as it’s a bit much for me. Even on the rocks it’s still over the top. However, as an ingredient in a mixed drink this baby will hold up quite nicely and add a great deal of flavor to an otherwise run of the mill mixed drink. It will be available in September 2012 for $41.99 per 750 ml bottle and just might brighten up your Holiday. And speaking of the Holidays, may I be the first to wish you a very Merry Christmas, HOHOHO!

By George Brozowski

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