TWO bottles of cognac dating back to 1914 discovered at the Evesham Hotel have been returned to the historic cellars of the company which made the drink.

The bottles are of HINE cognac and are dated 1914, one of the greatest vintages of the drink.

The year, currently at the forefront of many people's minds as we mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, was known as the Ladies Year.

This was because the men-folk had been mobilised to join the armed forces, and so the grape harvesting, vinification and distillation were carried out by women.

These two lasting bottles were only rediscovered recently in the Evesham Hotel's hidden collection of wines and spirits.

David Field, general manager of the hotel, recognised their quality and significance and the bottles were the stars of the hotel's recent wine auction, attracting immediate interest from across the world.

But rather than see them split up and lost to posterity, the House of HINE bought them both for the sum of £3,000.

They have now been taken from the Evesham Hotel by the River Avon to HINE's historic cellars on the banks of the River Charente in south west France.

Mr Field said: "The cellars of The Evesham Hotel were full of rare bottles of wines and spirits but when I saw the name HINE and the date 1914 I knew I had found something extra-special.

"It was a bit of a wrench to include them in the auction but the money they raised has paid for some repairs and improvements to the hotel. And knowing they have been bought back by HINE seems a particularly pleasing end to the story."

The HINE 1914 is described as having suble perfumes of flower and undergrowth which give the cognac a rich and aromatic bouquet.

Bernard Hine, sixth generation of the Hine family, said: "HINE are pleased to have acquired these two, century old bottles, of their 1914 vintage with known provenance for the HINE Library.

"These bottles have been repatriated to HINE'S historic cellars on the banks of the River Charente in Jarnac, south-west France, where they lie waiting for a very special occasion."