Grand Marnier is a legendary French orange liqueur. It was developed already in the 19th century and the family company that manufactures it, Marnier Lapostolle, continues to operate today. However, since 2016, the ownership of the company has been held by Gruppo Campari. Cordon Rouge is made with bitter, green oranges and cognac. The bitter orange is peeled, the peels are dried and extracted into strong, neutral alcohol. This alcohol is distilled and the result is mixed with cognac, sugar and water. There is at least 51% cognac in the product. The mixture of orange distillate and cognac is still aged in an oak barrel for a few months. Compared to other orange liqueurs and triple-secs, Cordon Rouge is at least twice as expensive. A 50 cl bottle cost €22 in Estonia.
The nose has orange marmalade, citrus peel, vanilla and caramel. There is no brandy in the aroma, the sweet orange smell covers it and also the ethanol vapors effectively. The taste has bitter orange peel, caramel, sugar and a surprisingly sharp bite of alcohol. Although the mouthfeel is quite thick, the liqueur is not too sweet. The bitter-sweet combination is at a nice level. The aftertaste is also sweet and bitter at the same time. Tingling ethanol bite leaves in the tongue for a long time. I assume that the cognac used in the liqueur is not of the highest quality and has matured so long. The aroma of the cognac itself remains hidden.
The taste of Grand Marnier is good in itself, although perhaps too citrus forward and has not as much brandy aroma as I hoped. However, due to the strong bite of the alcohol, it is not very pleasant to sip. In cocktails, it shows to be quite challenging, and it cannot be directly taken as a substitute for triple-sec or Cointreau. The Margarita made from it was somehow vague, it looks brandy and tequila didn’t go very well together. Cordon Rouge is better suited to brandy-based mixed drinks (which unfortunately are not my favorite ones). Cordon Rouge stayed on my booze shelf for several years before it was finally emptied. Occasionally sipped there’s nothing wrong with its taste, but I did not want to drink it neat, and it’s quite challenging to use in cocktails. Anyway, it’s still an interesting product, but I doubt I will ever buy another bottle.