Cognac is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious and delightful spirits. In this review, you will discover Hine Rare VSOP as I cover the following topics:
- Review Formula
- Spirit Overview
- Robe & Appearance
- Nose & Aromas
- Palate & Mouthfeel
- How To Drink Hine Rare Cognac
- Cocktail Suggestions
- Recommended Pairings
- Overall Experience & Value For Money
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Hine Rare VSOP Overview
- Distillery: Hine
- Expression: Rare
- Variety: Cognac
- Region: Grande Champagne
- Age: VSOP
- Casking: Fine grain and wide grain French Oak
- Cask Strength: 40% ABV
- Parent: Thomas Hine & Co.
Hine Rare VSOP, which means it needs to be aged for at least four years after distillation, is a so-called Fine Champagne Cognac. Only Grande and Petite Champagne have been used for the assemblage of this particular quality, which pays tribute to the creamy, elegant and wine-focused house style of Thomas Hine & Co.
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Hine Rare’s Robe
- Hue: Golden brown
- Transparency: Unctuous
- Body: Mild
The color of the precious liquid is an intriguing gorgeously shimmering dark golden brown, with a hint of mahogany reflections. Boasting a rather thick and oily viscosity, the legs of this Fine Champagne Cognac run down the side of the glass in a rather slow fashion.
Hine Rare offers a thick, oily appearance which perfectly translates into the aromatic quality of the experience as well as the taste perception on the palate.
Hine Rare’s Nose
- Notes: Red apple, chrysanthemum, green walnut
- Nosefeel: Abundant
A fresh, fruity and rather elegant opening is dominated by red apple, apricots – almost like apricot jam – and a touch of brioche. The luscious aromas of yeast and sweet dough, slightly toasted, offer another nuance with a sprinkle of caster sugar and a caramelized finish. This Cognac offers a very elegant, floral complexity, elevated by a gentle whiff of olibanum.
After a few moments, a pronounced nuttiness starts to emerge. Fresh walnuts, even green and pickled walnuts, whilst towards the very end, I sense a hint of spice. The winey characteristics are the most prominent and important element of the olfactory perception though. A lively mixture of fresh muscat wine and raisins delivers vibrancy and youthfulness in a very pleasant and charming way. This VSOP brings a lot of energy to the table. It is bold and bright, not yet tamed down by 20, 30, or even 40 years of aging. This is a cognac that uses around 20 different eaux-de-vies, all within a range of five and ten years of aging.
Hine Rare’s Palate & Mouthfeel
- Primary Tastes: Caramelised fruit
- Mouthfeel: Creamy
- Opening: Raisin, apricot, brioche
- Heart: Almond brittle, rich vanilla, rancio
- Finish: Long [nutmeg, dried prune, toasted almond]
As already indicated in the olfactory experience, the first sip is dry, crisp with a very focused delivery. The beginning is luscious and charming with an abundance of winey characteristics and quality. In conjunction with the fruit essence, I sense a musky note, not in an unpleasant way, quite the opposite: it’s a subdued but complex sensation, elevating the overall experience.
After a couple of minutes, the astringency takes a more prominent role on the palate. It reveals layers upon layers of depth, just to balance off the caramelly, raisiny fruit-sweetness. The creamy mouthfeel and texture translate into rich marzipan and white nougat. All in all, this is a rather complex tasting experience, despite this being a VSOP and not a prestige XO bottling.
Great balance and length carry different sensations to an impressive, very pleasant finish. There are some orchards thrown into the overall picture, sweet leather, and a final glimpse of the exceptional base wine character that is so typical for the house of Hine.
How To Drink Hine Rare
As a matter of fact, Hine Rare VSOP is a perfectly versatile cognac. You could drink it with a splash of tonic water, ginger ale, or any filler of your choice, resulting in a very refreshing summer libation.
Alternatively, just pour yourself a glass on the rocks, maybe with an orange zest to perfume the glass ever so gently. And of course, Hine Rare is a perfect mixing Cognac for all your favorite Cognac cocktails, whether it’s a Sazerac, Harvard Cocktail, Vieux Carré, or a Corpse Reviver #1.
Best Pairings With Hine Rare
Being such a versatile style of Cognac, Hine Rare could play so many different roles as a pairing option. I would highly recommend a little experiment, putting your bottle of Hine Rare VSOP into the freezer overnight, and then enjoy it neat to accompany certain meals. Seafood, for example, goes particularly well with this ice-cold serve: salmon tartare or a super fresh ceviche would make for a sensational experience that will enlighten your taste buds.
Since Hine is a more mellow, wine-focused type of Cognac, I like to pair it with certain cigars, despite my usual cautiousness of spirit and cigar combinations, given the high ABV. It can be overwhelming to smoke a spicy cigar and then challenge your palate even more by pairing it with a high-alcohol, woody and tannic beverage. Not so with Hine Rare, which I would enjoy alongside a characterful Connecticut shade wrapped cigar with depth and body in the filler tobaccos. Alternatively, a Maduro that could take a layer of freshness and some extra liveliness, but is not overly spicy, leathery or beefy, would be a great match.
Overall Experience & Value For Money
The interesting philosophy of Hine is that a great Cognac first and foremost needs to be a great white wine. As such, the house puts a lot of emphasis and lots of effort into producing exceptional base wines, keeping their essence and translating that into exceptional eaux-de-vies.
Hine Rare comes in the classic-looking, iconically shaped bottle that is typical for Thomas Hine & Co. It’s a worthy presentation for a beautiful spirit, which offers tremendous value for money.
All in all, Hine Rare is a great VSOP, very versatile, with a creamy, elegant profile, proudly stating the wine expertise of the house and highlighting the tradition, craftsmanship and rich history of Thomas Hine & Co.
"Whether you drink it neat, as highball or classic cocktail, Hine Rare is a very elegant every day Cognac."
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