The Ancestrale is an entirely different creature from what has come before. Keep in mind that from the Selection des Anges to the Ancestrale we have jumped from 30 years of age to 70 years! And the proof is before us, without doubt.
Contrary to what most ‘casual’ drinkers have been led to believe, most whiskies and brandies—and that type of brandy called Cognac included—do not benefit particularly from vastly extending the time in barrel. The flavor impacts of the wood reach their limits within a few years, and the evaporation and oxidation increase significantly; in the case of the Ancestrale, the evaporation factor is up to a staggering 89%!
Most Cognacs, quite frankly, can’t handle this. That is why this Ancestrale and others of its ilk are exceedingly rare. And why only 300 bottles of Ancestral are released in a given year.
This Ancestrale is based primarily on the 1928 Vintage, with judicious mingling of other very carefully selected years to ’round out’ the final version.
And the Ancestrale, because of both age and ancestry, is a very different style of Cognac. We’ve entered into another realm here, for the Ancestrale seems almost to be hearkening back to its origins, revealing a deeper, more wine-like character. There is a distinct (to me) reverberation of a dry Pineau des Charentes, that intriguing and fruity/grapey regional blend of (usually) inexpensive wine laced with inexpensive basic Cognac.
On the other hand, there’s an amazing density of tertiary aromas and flavors here—with the emphasis on tertiary. While the dried flowers and crystallized fruits remain, the dominant elements are the tobacco, walnuts, caramel, and chocolate; and the spice elements—cinnamon, clove and mingled curry spices—are quieter, more peripheral or subdued. And then there is the delightful and evocative impression of Madeira at the finish. This is a truly remarkable, and truly memorable, old cognac.
Other rare and limited bottlings that exist in the Cognac Pierre Ferrand portfolio are the Abel, a 45 year old blend; the 1972 release to mark a singularly impressive year, and the truly venerable and historic 1914 bottling. What a memorable experience that must be, to sip the amber-gold remembrance of a cognac, knowing the grapes for it were being harvested in the Charente as France and the world was tumbling headlong into one of the worst global conflicts of history and the cannons were raging with the guns of August at the onset of World War I.
The House of Cognac Pierre Ferrand is unequalled in its devotion to quality and the preservation of style from the Grande Champagne, the heart of Cognac. From the Ambre to the Reserve to the Selection des Anges and Ancestrale, and the other rare and limited release cognacs, Cognac Pierre Ferrand is one of the finest available in the market.