Women are easily distracted by French accents, or so decides Leroy Buliro as he zones out over the course of a Cognac tasting courtesy of the Brand Ambassador of House Martell.
There is something about Brand Ambassadors with their mussed-up hairstyles, classy attire and mountains of charisma that gets all the ladies buzzed whenever we are having a tasting at the office. This was the case when Martell’s brand ambassador, Ugo Messi, dropped by for a Cognac tasting earlier this month.
It is 4pm on the day before we break for Easter when Messi walks in. His arrival does not go unnoticed, as all the women in the office turn their heads and just like that, us dudes are relegated to the sidelines. No sooner than have office hours officially ended, the ladies rush down the stairs to our backyard garden. By the time the rest of us follow suit, the females have already grabbed their seats with a prime view of the, ahem, show.
For those not in the know, the iconic House of Martell was born in a small town in the west of France called Cognac in 1715. Martell is one of the most recognised cognac brands in the world and we are all excited to get a taste, especially for those who have never even had a sip of the stuff.
“There are two main ingredients for making Cognac,” says Messi, expertly launching into his tried and tested presentation. “The first ingredient is grapes, the second, love,” he continues, while placing three tulip shaped glasses in front of each of us. “For Cognac, we do not have age statements, we only have quality statements. This is what elevates the spirit from the rest”.
Messi goes on to explain that the quality statements are VS standing for Very Special, VSOP for Very Superior Old Pale and XO. No hugs and kisses will be flying around, not now at least, it is far too early for that. “XO stands for Extra Old”, says Messi finishing off on the basics of his presentation.
As we continue to hear about the history of the brand, I ponder that no matter how fat your wallet is or how fancy you carry yourself, you stand no chance against a man with a French accent, especially when such man is of Cameroonian descent.
“What is the best and only way to drink Cognac?” the question interrupts my reveries. The answer is not entirely expected: “Your way, you have to enjoy it your way, depending on the mood. Whether you like your drink iced up and on the rocks, as a cocktail or with a mixer”.
Starting off the tasting is the Martell VS, which has a fruity aroma from the grapes and is soft in the mouth. This is not the case with the second bottle, the VSOP which has a woody aroma and I find mildly harsh to the throat. The XO instead tastes smooth, its aromas spicy on the nose and intense in the mouth.
By the time darkness engulfs us, one more bottle is unveiled. This is the VSSD, a Very Special Single Distillery line which has yet to hit the market. Just by looking at its archshaped bottle, and the jealousy with which Messi cradles it, it becomes obvious that this is the brand’s new golden child. After a short walkthrough on the new bottle’s history and how it is prepared, we all lift our glasses to our nose to capture its scent before taking a sip, or gulps, for those who are already too far gone.
The night is still young and the Martell is coursing through our veins whispering to our minds to loosen up. Who are we to say no? Before you know it we have decided the only way forward is a good old karaoke session. Luckily for the women though, Messi packs his bags up and prepares to leave, I’m not sure what impression their vocal cords would have made.
For cockails you can shake up using Martell cognac click here
Follow Ugo Messi on IG: @ugo_martell
Photos: Peter Ndungú