Sarajishvili was founded in 1884 by David Sarajishvili, who had studied Philosophy in Germany. At that time, even though Georgia was part of Russia, he wanted to develop the Georgian economy. While his specialty had been wine and cheese, he was influenced by all the spirits he had seen in Germany, and he decided to study Cognac production, and to go to France to do it.
Since he didn’t have traditional Cognac grapes, he substituted the Georgian grapes closest to the desired French grapes: Chinuri, Goruli Mtsvane, Kakhuri Mtsvane and Tsitska, looking for high acidity and resistance to humidity.
He purchased casks of Georgian oak (‘Iberica’), Limousin oak, and some Bulgarian Oak.
Then he built distilleries in 3 different regions of Georgia, all with copper pot stills.
With a majority of 400L. casks, he also ordered casks of over 2,000 L, and a few at 6,000 L, which today are the oldest casks in Georgia.
The aging cellars in Tbilisi hold filled casks of varying ages, with the minimum age being 3 years. The Chief Technologist and Director of Science, David Abzianidze, keeps the cellars at 85 to 90% humidity. When asked why there was no visible black mold on the walls and ceilings of the cellars, he said “we take care of that.”
When he is ready to create the final blends, he mixes water, glucose, fructose and caramel (for color conformity), which is stirred for 4-6 hours. This is added to the blends before a final aging for an additional year.
We tasted a 7-Year Old V.S. and a 10-Year Old V.S.O.P. which tasted a lot like Cognac. Sarajishvili also produces an X.O. and other special bottlings. At the tasting, David Abzianidze cradled his snifter to warm it slightly, and stated his recommendations for things to go with fine brandies. He described the ‘French Ideas for Serving Cognac’ or ‘The 4 C’s’: Cognac, Chocolate, Cigars and Coffee.
Harriet Lembeck, CSS (Certified Specialist of Spirits)
Photos: Tom Plant