Sommelier Julie Dupouy and Exsto Founder and CEO Sabrina Duong wanted to create an authentic Cognac that would appeal to curious, sophisticated millennials while embodying quality through simplicity.
Here, they share their vision for Exsto Cognac.
Why Cognac – what does it represent for you?
Julie: For me, enjoying Cognac is a meditative experience. It’sa beverage intended to be savoured and when I order a Cognac, I spend many minutes enjoying its aromas before I even start to taste. I love the multi-layered character that a good Cognacreveals as I drink and it’s amazing to consider that the eaux devie in the blend are much older than I am – maybe more than 100years old.
I wonder who might have made it, all those years ago, and imagine the rows of oak barrels and "Dame-Jeanne" (a glass bottle that holds very old Cognac) resting in dark, cool cellarsperfumed by the Angel's share left on its walls.
For me, Cognac is a beautiful beverage which, through the art and talent of master blenders, translates the past into the present to offer a full suite of emotional tasting experiences.
Cognac is time, craft and pleasure, bottled.
Sabrina, why did you collaborate with Julie, one the World’sBest Sommeliers, to create Exsto Cognac?
Sabrina: A good sommelier lives and breathes wines and spirits and has cultivated a unique understanding of aromas and flavours by exploring the world’s best foods and drinks.
I believe that Julie has a thorough understanding of modern preferences, having worked with acclaimed chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants.
Julie’s skills and experience make her the perfect choice tocreate a new style of Cognac – a luxury drink that’s elegant andmodern, yet respectful of its heritage. Like many of the women I used to work with in the perfume business, Julie is an inspiring woman and we share a vision of adopting a more feminine approach to what is often perceived to be a man’s drink.
Julie, why did you decide to collaborate on Exsto Cognac?
Julie: I felt there was an exciting opportunity to “break themould”. Aside from its use in cocktails, Cognac is a beverage which suffers a little from its old-fashioned, masculine image, when it is so much more. As a Cognac lover and a woman, I was very excited to take on this challenge. I wanted to bring the passion and excitement I have for Cognac to a wider audience byintroducing a new, modern style to drinkers around the world. I truly believe that those who currently enjoy Cognac, as well as those who have never tried Cognac before, will appreciate Exsto’s quality and personality.
As a sommelier, I analyse wines and spirits in great detail but I rarely get to create anything. When Sabrina contacted me to ask me to collaborate with Exsto, I saw the opportunity to participatein the genesis of something special and express myself through aproduct I am extremely passionate about. I also felt that this venture was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the process of creating a high quality product and bringing it to market.
What was your vision for Exsto Cognac?
Sabrina: I have always been passionate about fine dining andthe unique gastronomy and drinks experiences offered at the world’s best restaurants. When I had the opportunity to create a Cognac brand, I felt it was the right time both personally and professionally to embark on a new journey and create something new.
In my previous roles in the cosmetics world, artistic collaboration between perfumer and other artists was the norm. I knew the same methodology could be applied to creating a spirit.
Simply, the idea was to change perceptions of Cognac, and introduce it to a wider audience. I set out to create a Cognac that felt new and exciting, with a personality and flavour that would be memorable for everyone who tasted it.
What makes this Cognac so different from others you’ve tasted?
Julie: For me, Exsto Cognac Or Imperial represents purity, sophistication and vibrancy. The nose is refined, complex and enchanting. It takes you from a summer’s day in the orchard –with notes of greengage, vine peach and apricot – to a walk by the sea with its beautiful nuances of iodine and seaweed, punctuated by delicate notes of violet and rose petals.
Finally, underneath this apparent lightness and brightness, some slightly darker tones of damp forest floor, warm baking spices and mushroom set a more mature profile. On the palate, it has an incredible liveliness, expressed through an explosion of flavours with a long resonant finish. Because the oak presence is subtle, the eaux de vie exhibits an incredible transparency and purity.
Exsto is not about volume and power, but delicate aromas, elegance, harmony and precision.
As for Elixir, it brings me back to childhood memories…somewhere in the south of France, at the end of a summer day in August. The sunlight is not as strong and the reflection of the golden sunrays softens the sceneries. The soil is warmand delicately scented by spices of hummus and earthy notes,a scent sometimes amplified by the summer storms.
The long grass on the country side are lying flat and it smellsof herbs and cut hay. Apple and pear orchards are plying under the weight of all their fruits and they perfume thesurroundings.
Just like these memories, Elixir represents for me indulgence and gentleness. Its style is fruity, round, generous and accessible, without any compromise on purity and complexity – the signature of an amazing cognac.
Would you define Exsto as a “feminine” Cognac?
Julie: I try to avoid referring to beverages as "masculine" and "feminine" as I appreciate all styles of Cognac, depending on my mood. What I would like to do is put Exsto forward as an incredibly interesting, complex reference point on that scale – apremium counterpoint to some of the styles often described as masculine. If there is a word that comes to mind when beverages are described as feminine then that word is “elegance”. For me,elegance is the heart of Exsto.