If you’ve sipped a few cognacs over the years, you’ll immediately notice a difference when tasting Kelt. This liquor is crafted for flavor, not batch processed for maximum output. Not only does Kelt use grapes exclusively from the chalky soils France’s Grande Champagne region, but every oak cask completes the aging process by going on a 3 month round-the-world Tour du Monde ocean voyage . This is Kelt’s signature ocean maturation, a process dating back to the 18th century when the only mode of transit for spirits of any kind to different continents was by ship on the high seas. As tipplers soon discovered, cognac developed a flavoring much different than those directly from a glass bottle during these long sea voyages.
There’s a reason for this flavor advantage. At sea, the cognac oak casks filled only to 70% capacity rock and roll constantly with the ship. This way, every molecule is repeatedly in contact with the oak wood each day. There are huge variations in temperature on board and extreme periods of heat naturally release the wood’s finest lignin into the liquor. The constant changes in temperature and air pressure also enable oxygenation via the expanding and contracting wood. This is when the cognac mellows developing a more subtle character.
Mr. Kelt, a Scandanavian who owns and operates Kelt Distillery, is no stranger to ocean maturation. The Norweigan spirit Linie Aquavit is also transported in aged oak casks from Norway to the Equator and back again. To the same level of success, Kelt adopted the same process in 1990 for his line of cognac.
Kelt’s Tour du Monde always charts east to west. Believe it or not, the direction traveled has an impact on flavor. For some unexplained reason, a westbound Tour du Monde does not produce as good an effect as going eastbound. After leaving LeHavre, France, the ships takes the cognac to a few Northern European ports, then heads south into the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal into the Arabian Sea and from there on to Sri Lanka, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and across the Pacific to the United States and Los Angeles. From Los Angeles, the booty passes through the Panama canal and then North again following the east coast of the US to New York before returning across the Atlantic Ocean back to LeHavre. The casks are then allowed a 3-5 month resting period in stone chais before bottling.
I’m hoping Kelt will offer fans the opportunity to join them on board a promotional voyage….vintage ship and all! Perhaps prize promotions are in the works?
photo courtesy of Steve Mirsky