Unique is a word that can be used lazily. But the latest release from The Last Drop, 382 bottles (75cl) of an ultra-aged Pineau des Charentes, really does deserve the application of the adjective.
The mission of The Last Drop is to ferret out remarkable aged spirits and bottle them from the original barrels. Since it was founded in 2008, The Last Drop Distillers has released 22 bottlings of rum, bourbon, scotch whisky and cognac; this amounts to fewer than 10,000 bottles to date.
The latest find was discovered in 2017, when the MD of The Last Drop, Rebecca Jago, visited a family owned distillery in the French Grande Champagne region that has been making cognac since the 17th century. Here, she was introduced to a 1925 Grande Champagne cognac that became a release from the firm in 2019. It had been in a barrel behind a false cellar wall built from rubble before the Second World War.
But along with this barrel there was another, and it proved to be equally extraordinary. The wood and metal of this second cask was so delicate that the liquid had to be decanted on site, and it turned out to be a small amount of Pineau des Charentes that had been made sometime in the early 20th century.
Pineau des Charentes is a French aperitif that comes from the Cognac region. Normally Pineau des Charentes is consumed in its youth. However, this one has, through its 100 years of ageing, become less of an aperitif and more of a digestif.