Common name: Cognac essential oil
Genus name: Vitis Vinifera L. (part of the vitaceae family)
Supplier: Alambica (Switzerland)
Note: Top note
Production: steam distillation of wine lees
Chemical compounds: acetaldehyde, cuminaldehyde, ethyl petargonate, ethyl decanoate, ethyl dodecanoate, decanoic acid
Interesting bits: Cognac essential oil is formed during the fermentation of yeasts and solids in wine lees. Lees are the deposits of dead yeasts and other particles that fall or are transported to the bottom of the vat during “fining” (filtering), after fermentation and ageing. Lees are also the source of most commercial Tartaric Acid. It is also an important part of making the Ripasso wine where the left over lees of the Amarone are used to add more flavour and colour to partially aged Valpolicella (source: Wikipedia). Lees can impart complexity and enhance the structure of the wine (source: wineweekly.com).
Their nose: I can’t find much on other’s odour impression of this oil and Basenotes is having issues, so I’ll just move on.
My nose: I was so disappointed to be knocked sideways by the initial impression of vomit, sharp, acidic, with notes resembling green, dry, blanched, tart, it even felt cold. 30 minutes into it and it’s still green, dry, but more personality now, fuller, smells alcoholic. After an hour it remains sharp and aggressive, very present, but now more sparkling and bubbly like champagne. 2 hours into the dry down and very alcoholic, but now I smell a thick, lactonic note, it’s going from sharp to creamy. 5 hours later and it’s very sharp, almost rancid, like coconut nut oil that has gone rancid, still creamy, lactonic, persistent. Could it be my sample of this essential oil? Are they all like this? After 12 hours I gotta say I’m left with this coconut, lactonic smell that is quite unpleasant.
Musings on composition: I would use it mainly to give a lift to the overall blend or use it to highlight a note. Can’t see myself building an accord around this one. I would be more inclined to use it much the same way lees is used in wine making: to add complexity, character and structure.