Meeting Morten

Cognac Expert’s Facebook group, Cognac Lovers is a space for our community to share and discuss their passion for eaux-de-vie and it currently stands at an impressive 2,700 members. Within this group, you will find characters from all corners of the Cognac world, including producers, bottlers, connoisseurs, and those of you who just enjoy being introduced to and learning about new bottles of the finest French brandy.

Cognac Loftet tasting

Morten Viksoy has been a member of Cognac Lovers for around one year and within that time he has become a good friend of Cognac Expert and a widely respected authority on Cognac thanks to his extensive ratings and reviews. As one of Cognac Expert’s top 10 reviewers and a valued member of our community, we wanted to properly introduce Morten and find out a little more about his love for eaux-de-vie.

Introducing Morten

A Norwegian native, Morten found his calling to Cognac a little later in life. Having previously found the spirit overpowering and uninteresting, his impression began to change around the year 2005 when a group of friends from his hometown organized a monthly Cognac club as a way of regularly reuniting everyone. The group were not Cognac aficionados by any means, eaux-de-vie just began as a great excuse to catch up with old friends but for Morten, it blossomed into a life passion.

Morten Viksoy

After tasting higher quality Cognacs than he had ever experienced before, Morten discovered he had quite a fondness for it; and never being one to do things in half measures, he resolved himself to learning more about the spirit. Morten’s self-education began with reading a wide variety of reviews, purchasing affordable Cognacs that he had read about, and attending a Cognac masterclass with Bache Gabrielsen before he eventually traveled to Cognac for the first time in 2013. As Morten himself puts it, since then “there has been no way back” and today he is a committed and enthusiastic Cognac connoisseur who enjoys eaux-de-vie whenever the situation allows.

Morten’s Method

As well as being an active and valuable member of the Cognac Lovers Group, Morten also runs a Facebook page, by the name of ‘Cognacloftet på Kjelsås’. Here you can find Cognac experiences, as well as ratings and reviews of Cognac. It is on this page that Morten publishes the majority of his Cognac reviews according to their straight-forward rating system which abides by the following benchmarks:

  • 100 points – Extremely good Cognac
  • 85 points – Decent Hors d’Age quality
  • 75 points – Decent XO quality
  • 65 points – Decent VSOP quality
  • 55 points – Decent VS quality

Morten explains of this system:

“My scale is an absolute scale, the best cognac is on top, it doesn’t matter if it is a VSOP or an XO. And I don’t consider price or if it is a good buy. So there are no caps on anything. But it would be strange if a VSOP scored above 80 points.”

“The cognac we enjoy the most and that we are searching for is cognac above 85 or preferably 90 points. Very few cognacs deserve 95 points and above. The main characteristics of these are that they are rich on the nose, mature, quite tasty, and with a long aftertaste. It can not be too sweet or over the top. These cognacs are rare and hard to find. I don’t split points up on aroma, taste, aftertaste etc, it is more a holistic approach to it. With some training and using the virtual benchmarks, you can quite quickly establish the correct score bracket for a cognac. Then you will need some time to calibrate it to get the exact score.”

When The Situation Allows

There are certain special situations in which Morten particularly enjoys a quality Cognac. A number of times a year, Morten invites 10 enthusiasts to his home in Norway and asks them each to bring one of their favorite Cognacs to share with the group. Once a year he also hosts the most dedicated connoisseurs for an extreme tasting, “Kjelsaas Extreme”, only the very best and rarest of Cognacs qualify for this exclusive tasting session. In 2021, the group tasted more than 100 extreme Cognacs over three days, an event that was an incredible experience for all participants.

Morten and the cognac tasting crew in Norway

Morten also enjoys attending various Cognac fairs in Norway, the Netherlands, and the UK. These shows provide an opportunity to meet the people behind the Cognacs in person without having to visit Cognac in France, and you also have a chance to taste a wide array of different Cognacs in quick succession. Masterclasses at Cognac fairs can be a fascinating and educational experience in which you can often taste new releases or even non-commercial products.

Finally, who doesn’t love the peaceful feeling associated with sipping on exceptional eaux-de-vie in the comfort of your own home? The majority of Morten’s tastings are performed just like this, allowing him the time to appreciate the full impression of each Cognac and to dutifully take notes comparing his collection of treasures.

Morten’s Taste

It is interesting to consider how Morten’s preference has developed over the course of his Cognac education. At the beginning of his journey, Morten’s focus was predominantly on the most famous houses as well as traditional Norwegian brands. Initially, his taste was for round and smooth Cognacs and Morten paid little consideration to the crus from which they originated.

However, just as with anyone who pursues a passion for long enough, Morten’s attention gradually turned to the more extreme Cognacs, those which are rougher, stronger, and crafted by little-known producers. By delving into the components of blends and their terroirs, Morten has now learned his own palate better. He now knows his preference is for pure Cognacs that lack sweetness, but most of all he loves a Cognac that comes with a history.

Today, Morten enjoys tasting Cognac from all of the different crus, although he acknowledges that his personal stock is dominated by Grande Champagne Cognacs, which gives an indication of his preferences.

An assortment of Tesseron bottles

Petite Champagne Cognacs also appeal to him, but the available selection is much more limited than in Grande Champagne. Outside of the prominent Chateau de Montifaud, Morten enjoys Petite Champagne Cognacs from Bertrand, Esteve, Maxime Trijol, and the smaller houses of Birius and Bel Ange.

The Bons Bois region is one that sparks both his and his fellow connoisseurs’ interest, and after having learned about the delicacy of older Cognacs of this cru from Guilhelm Grosperrin, the group has been treasure hunting for other delicacies of the region.

Outside of the crus, Morten admits that he clearly has a preference for Cognacs of a significant age; of his stock of close to 600 bottles, none are of VS or VSOP quality. Morten’s youngest Cognac is around six years old, with his oldest being from 1835, and very few of his bottles are from any of the big four houses. There is no favorite producer amongst Morten’s stock, however he tends to lean towards purchasing his Cognacs from Grosperrin, Jean Fillioux, Pasquet, Vallein-Tercinier, and Navarre.

“These people we have visited and met many times; they are like family”

Meeting the Producers

The opportunity to meet with and talk to the very people who craft the eaux-de-vie we know and love is something that makes the Cognac industry and community so special. Morten has been fortunate enough to visit Cognac on numerous occasions and liaise with most of the producers whose bottles he enjoys. The ability to learn about the houses, their history, philosophy, and future plans from the producers themselves, provides a newfound appreciation for their Cognacs.

Although Morten’s preferences lie with the smaller artisanal houses, and these are the ones who he has visited, he would also be curious to meet with the cellar masters of any of the major houses such as Hennessy and Martell and to explore the many treasures they have hiding in their cellars.

When asked which three producers Morten would invite to dinner, he found it too difficult to choose and so instead he turned it into a party and invited seven. Guilhem Grosperrin and Christophe Fillioux were top of the list,

“I know them well, so I am sure they would make good company.”

Next on the guest list was Jean Pierre Vaudon, invited in honor of the exquisite bottles he has created at both Voyer and Vaudon. Amy and Jean Pasquet would also join the party, the Pasquet’s have invested time and resources into the Norwegian market, and so naturally Morten would have plenty to discuss with them. Next through the door is Therese Bertrand.

An assortment of Voyer bottles

Bertrand Heritage was discovered on one of our visits there, so her company would be very welcomed.”

Finally, to add some tenure to the group, Stephan Burnez from Prunier would receive an invite. After pondering on his selection, Morten concludes:

“I think it would be a very long and interesting evening with all these gifted people present”.

We must admit, we have to agree and we hope we get an invite!

Mortens Favorite Cognacs

Now that you have had more of a taste for the man himself, we want to get down to the important details, as we are eager to discover the favorite Cognacs of such an experienced palate, and we’re sure you are too. We asked Morten to curate a list of his 15 absolute favorite Cognacs, and unsurprisingly he came back with a selection of unique bottles that will appeal to the more advanced and acquired Cognac tastes. His list is as follows:

98 Points – Grosperrin No.14

Grosperrin N°14 bottle

“This is by far the best Cognac from this area that I have ever tasted. Unfortunately, it is sold out.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


97 Points – Ragnaud Sabourin Heritage

Ragnaud Sabourin assortment

“My preference is for the version following the phylloxera crisis. The older version of Le Paradis is almost just as good, but just almost.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


97 Points – Pasquet Oncle Albert

Pasquet Oncle Albert Tres Vieux Cognac

“Another Cognac that is hard to find. It is sold out, but some bottles can be found on auctions.”


97 Points – Grosperrin No. 34

Grosperrin N°34 Grande Champagne

“This is one of many good Grande Champagne’s from Guilhem. I could also choose No.24, No.33/39, No.25, or No.22, but this is the one I enjoy most.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


97 Points – Jean Fillioux 1948

Jean Fillioux 1948 Grande Champagne

“Another hard to get Cognac, but very good.”


96 Points – Prunier 1893

Prunier 1893

“This is an old Cognac I bought at auction some years back. Very nice by all means.”


96 Points – Bisquit Privilege

Bisquit Privilege Grande Champagne Hors D'Age

“This was a big surprise the first time I tasted it. And it continues to be as good every time I taste it.”


96 Points – Delamain Pleiade Apogee 1965

Delamain Pleiade Grande Champagne

“This was released last year. Quite a few bottles ended up in Norway. After getting some air, this is a fantastic, concentrated Cognac.”


96 Points – Tesseron Master Blend 100

Tesseron Master Blend's 100

“Tesseron must be on such a list. And this is their best product. It has an elegance that you don’t find in the rest of these Cognacs, this is beautiful blending work.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


96 Points – Francois Voyer Ancestral No.8

Francois Voyer Tres Vieux Cognac Grande Champagne

“This was also released not so long ago. But it is good, very good. Not as concentrated as Delamain, but still very elegant.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.

96 Points – Bache Gabrielsen Sublime Folle Blanche

Bache Gabrielsen Sublime Folle Blanche

“Only 120 bottles have been produced of this anniversary cognac. Recommended if you can find it.”


95 Points – Paulet Très Vieille Réserve

Paulet Borderies tres Vieille Reserve

“This I got to taste some years back and it soon became my favorite Borderies. We don’t know the full history here, but these bottles can be found at various auctions around the world. This is a secret we perhaps shouldn’t share 😉”


95 Points – Grosperrin No. 38

Grosperrin Bons Bois N°38

“Guilhem taught us how to enjoy Cognac from Bons Bois with his 1944. This is even better. After tasting this, you will never consider Bons Bois a less worthy area.”


95 Points – Jenssen Epiphanie

Jenssen Epiphanie Hors D'Age

“This cognac is hard to find. Tesseron has bought the stock. But this is a true gem. Love it!”

 

95 Points – Vallein Tercinier Conjugaison 49

Vallein tercinier Conjugaison 49

“Vallein Tercinier must be represented on such a list. It could just as well have been their Rue 34. They are both beautiful, and I currently have the Conjugaison above the Rue 34.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.

For those of you who relish a particularly bold and old bottle of eaux-de-vie, we’re sure that list will leave you occupied for quite some time. However, Cognac Expert endeavors to cater to all palates and so we challenged Morten to also present us with a selection of slightly more approachable Cognacs. Morten delivered a list of eight younger Cognacs that he particularly enjoys (although don’t expect anything less than an XO):


89 Points – Jenssen XO

Jenssen XO

“Probably the best XO I have ever tasted”.

Find more information about this Cognac here.


88 Points – Vaudon Cask 78 & 80

Vaudon Through the grapevine

“Sold through LMDW. Perhaps not an XO by definition, but I consider it to be an XO.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


87 Points – Maxime Trijol Dry Collection Lot No.1 Very Old

Maxime Trijol Dry Collection Very Old Cognac N°1

“It is older than their regular XO, but I drink it as a XO”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


87 Points – Dudognon Réserve des Ancetres

Dudognon Reserve des Ancetres Grande Champagne

“A beautiful Cognac from a beautiful house.”

Find more information about this Cognac here


86 Points – Navarre Vielle Réserve

Navarre Vieille Reserve Cognac

“One of the absolute best buys in Cognac.”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


85 Points – Normandin Mercier Bar & Cigar

Bar et Cigar Cognac bottle taken by Morten

“A special edition for a bar here in Norway. I believe it is a single cask, early 1980s”


83 Points – Michelet XO

Michelet XO Cognac

“I don’t know much about it, but I like it very much.”


83 Points – Pasquet Nostalgie

Pasquet Nostalgie

“A lovable Cognac from the 90s”

Find more information about this Cognac here.


If you have the pleasure of tasting any of these bottles, we would love to hear your feedback and whether your palate is aligned with Morten’s or you have a different take on the eaux-de-vie. If you’re interested in reading more of Morten’s reviews then be sure to keep your eye on our Cognac Lovers Facebook group and watch out for his ratings on our online shop as well.

different cognac bottles on a stair case

We also encourage everyone to leave their thoughts on bottles they have tried using our new rating system, and who knows if you taste enough Cognacs, you may even be able to challenge Morten for his spot as one of our top 10 reviewers!

 

 

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Ellie joined the Cognac Expert team at the end of 2020 and works on a range of content including the product pages, blog, and newsletter. She is a passionate copywriter originally from the UK, but currently living in Valencia, Spain.

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