The final release in the Cask Finish Collection nods to Normandy.
ST-RÉMY’S MASTER BLENDER, CÉCILE ROUDAUT, has roamed the world for inspiration for her limited-edition Cask Finish Collection, which launched in 2018 and wraps up with the recently released and final expression in the series.
Previous bottles have included brandies matured in barrels used for dark rum, oloroso sherry, tawny port, and Islay Scotch. For this, the ninth edition, Roudaut wanted to work with a traditional French product.
“I wanted something very beautiful, closer to home, for the end,”
she said, strolling through the verdant grounds of her chosen blending partner, Château du Breuil, a Calvados distillery in the heart of Normandy’s Pays d’Auge.
By French standards, it doesn’t get much more beautiful than this historic estate, with its classic half-timbered manor house, acres of apple orchards, and a production facility built into a 19th-century flax mill. As we looked out from dust-smudged cellar windows at a pond edged with weeping willows, it almost felt as if we had stepped into a painting from Claude Monet’s garden in nearby Giverny.
It was the perfect setting for an exquisite spirit. Limited to 12,580 bottles, the smooth dark-amber sipper, which uses St-Rémy’s XO brandy as its base and was aged in the Calvados casks for 12 months, has notes of apple pie, candied fruit, vanilla, almond, and pear.
Roudaut, who succeeded Martine Pain as St-Rémy’s master blender in 2016, calls herself the “guardian of tradition” for France’s largest and best-selling brandy, which was established in 1886. But the Cask Finish Collection, along with her St-Rémy Signature (a new, sweeter, cocktail-friendly brandy) has allowed her to flex her creativity — and helped her win Blender of the Year at the Spirits Business Awards 2022. Although this might be the final edition for this series, it’s not the end of her innovation. “Oh, I have lots of other ideas,” she said with a wink. “Next year you will see.”
— Alexandra Gill
Photography by Rémy Cointreau