Over in this part of the world, Cognacs have had a bit of a reputation for being an old geezer’s (aka young at heart) drink, although that’s more like a nod to its heydey as the booze of choice.
Interestingly, this is despite the fact that for quite a while now, it’s been rather typical for cognacs, vodka and whisky to pop up on a table at clubs and pubs, paired with the requisite jugs of green teas, colas… and Millennials at rave parties… That’s probably how it was back in the day as well.
Recognising the need to offer the club and pub crowd something that’s more in line with their lifestyle, Martell has introduced the Martell NCF – where NCF is short for non-chill filtered.
If you aren’t already aware, non-chill filtration is the process of filtering spirit at room temperature to remove sediment. The standard practice for cognacs and whiskies is to filter the spirit below 0°C to remove fatty acids and elements that can turn the spirit cloudy when serving the drinks chilled.
It’s a big reason behind the practice of chill filtration because as a business, it would be better if they didn’t have to – it adds to the cost. Furthermore, sediment and fatty acids aren’t the only things it removes – purists maintain that chill filtration strips the spirit of some flavours (it also removes some esters), which is nothing short of a travesty.
Martell is apparently taking a cue from the whisky industry with this move, which has successfully spread the gospel of non-chill-filtration to a wider audience.
That being said, it doesn’t mean chill-filtered spirits are necessarily inferior and bland, which is a bit like saying that a roadster is inherently inferior to a coupé – it all depends on the experience that you’re looking for.
In any case, Martell’s NCF is a little different. In the world of whisky, NCF whiskies are more the domain of enthusiasts, while the Martell NCF is clearly designed for more casual drinkers. Undoubtedly, it’s a product of shrewd marketing, in this instance, that’s not entirely a bad thing for its intended audience.
According to their product literature, Martell NCF offers ‘a refreshing new option for partygoers who want a dynamic, sophisticated and deliciously easy signature drink,’ and in truth, it’s not far off. For one, it’s certainly easy to drink and unlikely to offend with its slight fruitiness, coupled with vanilla as well as that familiar cognac signature. While it’s not terribly sophisticated, I’m pretty sure nobody pairs Deadmau5 with their cognac for a tasting experience (not that it won’t work unless you try). It’s better served as a fair drink on its own, a refreshing one with ice, and one that is easy to mix in a simple cocktail; which it does. In short, it’s pretty much on point for what it was designed for.
To seal the deal, the NCF features an uncharacteristically modern bottle design (by cognac standards, that is) that stands out under the club lights: glossy white lines that glow in the dark under UV light, revealing a transparent bottom showcasing the NCF’s amber hues and a reflective metallic copper coating in true #YOLO fashion… which is still a thing. I think…