Hine Rare VSOP brandy (40% ABV) summary
Hine Rare VSOP is made using only the best of the best, employing grapes from the finest Cognac crus. This gentle, floral cognac is fresh with orange and spiced by cinnamon notes – the Hine house is the sole supplier of cognac to the British Royal Family, so it must be good.
- Read our full round-up of the best brandy
What’s the story of the Hine cognac house?
Centuries ago, Europe wasn’t a calm place to live. We all bickered with each other, fighting and warring for years on end, squabbling over thrones and territories. Britain seemed to be at war with France nearly constantly. It is during one of these war torn periods that the story of Hine cognac begins.
For some reason, in 1791 there was an Englishman foolhardy enough to think that then was the perfect time to journey to France to learn about cognac, his father’s favourite drink. The Englishman in question was 16-year-old Thomas Hine, the time in question was the French Revolution.
When France erupted into war, ties were cut with England. Any and all English in France were detained as prisoners of war. The wide-eyed Thomas Hine was detained at the Château de Jarnac for several months, coincidentally alongside another man with a keen interest in cognac, Mr. Hennessy.
Hine was freed thanks to the patriarch of the Delamain family – also of cognac fame – and he went on to marry Françoise-Elisabeth Delamain. Whilst working as a personal assistant, Thomas gained a reputation for his strong work ethic and business acumen. Such was his reputation in the business, when his father-in-law died, Thomas was chosen as his successor, as opposed to one of the Delamain sons.
In 1817, the Dorset native gave his name to the business, registering Thomas Hine & Co. Since Thomas there have been six generations of the Hine family at the helm of the cognac house, with Bernard Hine currently overseeing a team of around thirty people as the firm continues to build on its 257-year history.
And what a history it is, over the years Hine gained popularity with the good and the great, culminating in a Royal Warrant in 1962, which made the house the sole supplier of cognac to the British Royal Family; some have suggested that the appointment is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the famous firm’s English roots, with the iconic Hine stag traditionally resting on French soil, its head facing back to England.
How is Hine Rare VSOP brandy to drink?
Hine Rare VSOP is gentle, balanced and delicately fruity. It’s a blend of around 20 different eau-de-vie, all distilled from Petite and Grande Champagne grapes. The nose is gentle with a plume of candied nectarine rolled out over oak and vanilla.
The vanilla becomes creamy on the palate and the French oak barrels come to the fore with a party of baking spices and dried citrus fruits. The smooth mouthfeel leans into a long finish that is stretched out by caramel, toffee and distant smoke.
Best brandy recipes
This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.