Martell’s VSOP gets it first update in five decades with a Cognac aged exclusively in middle-aged "red" casks.
Jean Martell opened a trading business on the banks of the Charente River in the Cognac region of France in 1715. Soon after he was purchasing local grapes, distilling Cognac, and aging them in fine-grained Tronçais oak. The business stayed in the family for generations and created their famous VSOP in 1831 which became an instant success in demand all over the world — enjoyed by royalty from England to Japan. Seagrams purchased the company in 1987, and as such has been in the Pernod Ricard portfolio since 2001. They are the most famous Cognac maker in the world with a wide-ranging product lineup.
Like all makers of aged Spirits, Martell Cognac takes wood seriously. New oak can have a slight bitter bite to the Cognac. Old casks allow continued oxidation, but the wood adds little complexity. According to them, the sweet spot is Tronçais oak barrels that have aged Spirits between four and eight years — they call these "red" barrels because the oak itself takes on a reddish hue. Before 2019, Martell VSOP Medallion was the heart of the brand aged in a combination of new, red, and old barrels. That standard had not changed in nearly fifty years. Martell VSOP Red Barrel is the same eaux-de-vie aged for five years exclusively in those middle-aged "red' casks to develop the signature fruit-forward profile without a trace of bitterness.