Cognac: A warm end to the year

The 2012 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias has The 2012 batch of Samuel Adams Utopias has been aged 19 years in wood barrels. Photo Credit: Handout

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Nearing year's end, you could use something warming.

Cognac is a good place to start. The House of Camus makes it in great variety. And there are three very good ones in the Camus middle-level Ile de Ré group.

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The Ile de Ré Fine Island is a fresh choice, fruity and accessible. It works as a sipper or in a cocktail. Try it with ginger ale and cranberry juice. This one goes for about $49. The Ile de Ré Double Matured offers hints of citrus and a pleasing, briny note, reflecting its origins in the most westerly part of the Cognac region. Double Matured is about $69. Add $30 and you'll taste the Ile de Ré Cliffside Cellar, a mellow, amber-hued Cognac that imparts a marine quality. Its cellar is very close to the Atlantic Ocean.

Camus VSOP Borderies is a vivid eau-de-vie from Cognac's smallest appellation. Limited to 15,000 numbered and signed bottles from Camus master blender Patrick Leger, it's floral, aromatic and distinctive. About $52.

If you're a big brew fan, or want to make a friend who is smile, there's the booming, 10th anniversary batch of Samuel Adams Utopias, a complex and distinctive creation that rises to 29 percent alcohol by volume -- truly high-octane stuff. It's the brewer's answer to Cognac, the color of midnight, with suggestions of vanilla, honey and plum. Expect the truly extreme beer to mature with style. You could enjoy it as an after-dinner beverage. The 2012 Utopias comes in an artful, black decanter in the shape of a brew kettle. They're $160 each.

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