The world of drinks is constantly expanding and evolving, with the next big thing just as likely to come from a young upstart producer as from an established name. We introduced the Rising Star award in 2022 to highlight something we think has to be on your radar for the coming year, and for 2023 our panel of experts has chosen Jean-Luc Pasquet as The Whisky Exchange Rising Star.
Inheriting his uncle Albert’s estate in 1970, Jean-Luc Pasquet learnt the art of winegrowing and distilling with his wife, Marie Françoise, and in 1977 the brand Jean-Luc Pasquet Cognac was born. Located on the border of Grande and Petite Champagne, the family-run estate, now managed by Jean-Luc’s son Jean and his wife Amy, puts its effort into creating terroir-focused eaux-de-vie and as Jean likes to say; ‘we don’t claim to have the best terroir, but we do our best to express the best of this terroir'.
Jean-Luc Pasquet Cognac has perfected its organic practices since it awarded its ‘Agriculture Biologique’ status in 1998, and employs a variety of preventative methods such as copper and sulphur to prevent mould and mildew from growing on the grapes. The vines' natural immune systems are reinforced with regular use of infusions made from stinging nettle, weeping willow and horsetail, and fava beans are planted between rows to create natural fertiliser. The fava beans convert nitrogen from the air into nutrients in the soil, which are taken up by the vines, reducing the need for chemical fertilisers.
A lively young Cognac, L’Organic 04 expertly captures the terroir of its Grande Champagne vineyards and Jean-Luc Pasquet’s commitment to organic production is present in this VS expression. Made with an entirely organic process, using Ugni Blanc grapes, this is a refreshingly versatile Cognac that can be enjoyed neat, on the rocks or in cocktails.
The nose brings aromas of white peaches, grapes, pear, apricot, oak spice and vibrant orange zest, followed by notes of grapefruit, honeysuckle, peaches, dried figs, honey, cloves, nectarines and grapes that fill the palate and linger in the finish.
A charming VSOP with an intense personality, L’Organic 07 is a terroir-driven Cognac from the masters of all things organic. Aged for seven years in French oak casks, this Cognac is made using an entirely organic process and makes a delicious aperitif.
Aromas of honeysuckle, apple blossom, nectarines, dried apricot, dark chocolate and oak spice mingle on the nose, building to notes of grapefruit, ripe pears, red grapes, black pepper and toasted oak throughout the palate.
An alluring, powerful XO Cognac from the leaders in organic Cognac production, that is a masterful marriage of structure and balance. Made exclusively with organic eaux-de-vie from Ugni Blanc grapes grown in Grande Champagne, this all-natural, frill-free Cognac makes a great digestif.
Straight away the nose brings aromas of figs, cinnamon and vanilla, followed by raisins, dried flowers and gingerbread that mingle together. The palate brings notes of orange, cocoa, tobacco leaves and dried figs, building to lingering flavours of ginger, sweet spices, nougat and candied orange peel in the finish.
Jean-Luc Pasquet’s production has been completely organic since the 1990s, crafting small-batch Cognacs with versatile characters and natural charms. From its Confluences series to the L’Esprit de Famille range, the Pasquet family pours their energy into ensuring every step of the process is environmentally-friendly and creates a collection of charming, characterful Cognacs.
A traditional aperitif from Cognac, legend has it Pineau des Charentes was created when a winemaker poured grape juice into a barrel to make wine, not realising that the barrel already held some brandy. Jean-Luc Pasquet uses freshly-pressed juice from extremely ripe grapes to make its Pineau des Charentes, making the most of the fruit’s natural sugars to create sweet, fruity aperitifs that are great in cocktails or simply on the rocks.
Inspired by this classic aperitif, Jean-Luc created Marie-Framboise - a flamboyant, playful aperitif, inspired by Pineau des Charentes, that uses fresh raspberries to add layers of tart berries and a vibrant red colour.
Last year’s Rising Star was an up-an-coming Scottish rum from Sugar House. While Scotland isn’t the first place you think of when it comes to making rum, Sugar House, based in the outskirts of Glasgow, is at the forefront of a band of adventurous distillers creating sugar cane spirits, always experimenting and pushing the boundaries, all while making excellent rum.
This fruity, full-flavoured Scottish rum from Sugar House is made with naturally soft water and premium cane molasses and undergoes a week-long fermentation. The palate offers notes of pineapple, mango, banana and peach, as well as spicy ginger and white pepper. Try using this rum to make tropical cocktails.