Whether to spend a vacation with friends and family or after the supper to consume some quiet time in introspection, Cognac is one such drink that can be one’s, perfect confidant. Its subtle and rich notes and spicy flavor profile successfully placed it among the most famous drinks. Technically speaking, it is a kind of a brandy prepared in the most elegant manner.
It is manufactured in the place near Cognac in France. The French government enforced stringent quality control measures so that only the best reaches the glass of the consumer. Cognac is obtained from just a couple of specified varieties of grapes, and the most famous ones are Ugni Blanc. It is double-distilled in copper pot stills and made to age for a minimum of two years in French oak barrels. However, the majority of the Cognacs are matured for more than two years and some even as long as for twenty years.
With more than one hundred and fifty bottling to select from, including a wide array of vintage spirits as old as the early twentieth century, the Brand Library is the best place on Earth to experience Cognac. Flavien Desoblin, an energetic Cognac evangelist with an experience of more than a decade in serving drinks, started this legendary institution in 2004.
This exquisitely prepared drink is supposed to be enjoyed in an equally exquisite fashion. The following rules of thumb should be kept in mind when drinking the Cognac.
If it is young, mix it
In case of preparing cocktails, it is generally suggested that any younger spirit like Frapin VS, Courvoisier VS, or Leopold Gourmel Premieres Saveurs should be poured. Nutty, citrus, and floral flavors play pretty well with Cognac. Hence, classics like French Connection and the Sidecar should be fixed. Also, a young Cognac accompanied by ginger ale and ice works like magic on hot days. Jarnac Ginger, a brandy-based variation on the Dark and Stormy, is worth trying.
If it is old, drink it straight
A Cognac having any complexity or depth should never be used in cocktails. Matured brandies contain very subtle and delicate notes, and they should be enjoyed without mixers, cigars, or food.
No water, no ice
Water happens to make Cognac too much bland, provided it is not a cask-strength bottling, which is pretty rare; and ice simply kills the taste. The rule of thumb is to serve the spirit neat, a little cooler or at room temperature. The typical snifter, with its balloon-like wide bottom and narrow top, is the perfect vessel; as it helps to swirl which liberates the aromatic compounds.
Find a great deal
There is a wide variety of excellent spirits available for less than fifty US dollars. Hardy VSOP, Pierre Ferrand Ambre, H by Hine, Cognac Park Borderies Single Vineyard, Louis Grimaud VSOP, Normandin-Mercier VSOP, AND Vignoble Grateaud Bouquet Borderies are excellent options, to begin.
Know your Cognac
VS (very special)
Youngest Cognac, which is aged for a minimum of two years
VSOP (very superior old pale)
It is made to age for a minimum of four years
XO (extra old)
It is matured for a minimum of six years, but the majority of the extra olds are matured for around twenty years
Cognac drinking cheatsheet
A tulip-shaped glass is considered ideal for Cognac, but a spherical one is fine, too.
Pour a tiny amount of Cognac, less than one fluidic ounce, into the glass.
Hold the glass’ body with your palm for around ten minutes to warm the drink gradually and naturally without causing the aroma to evaporate.
Watch the surface layer of the Cognac in the glass and pay special attention to its hue. The color indicates the drink’s age; oldest to youngest Cognac range from darker tinges all the way through red, gold, amber, and yellow.
Place your nose at the glass’ edge and slowly inhale. This aroma is called the montant. The Cognac’s smell is typically fruity or floral and can contain notes of apricot, violet, quince, or nut.
Position the glass away from your nostrils, swirl it with care, and smell the drink once again.
Finally, sip a little. Allow the Cognac to pass over the palate and enjoy the drink’s complex texture. Younger Cognacs are sharp and virtually impulsive, but older ones are gentler. Drink gradually to appreciate the Cognac.
Cognac trivia: five fun facts you did not know about it
Cognac is considered as the champagne of brandy
Cognac is a kind of brandy, or distilled wine, prepared in a delineated place of around two hundred thousand acres that surrounds the Cognac town, on the western coast of France. All Cognac is brandy, though not all brandy is Cognac. It does not keep aging, in sharp contrast with the wine Cognac is made from, it will not improve with time.
- There are six unique Cognac producing places
Inside the delimited area, as it is referred by the French Cognac officials, there are six production zones defined by their terroir. From lowest-quality (primarily sand or clay-type soil) to highest (limestone-rich chalky soil retaining most of the moisture and reflects most of the sunlight to the grapes), they are; Bois Orginaires, Bons Bois, Fins Bois, Borderies, Petit Champagne, and Grande Champagne. Almost all Cognacs are mixed from various Eaux-de-vie (distilled spirits of different ages) obtained from these six places to achieve the best and optimum well-rounded flavor.
- People used to consume Cognac from the big honking glasses in order to keep it warm
Those big bulb-shaped glasses are intentionally designed to channel heat from the human body to the drink, which is best enjoyed at around twenty-one degree Celcius.
- There are some stringent regulations about Cognac
Cognac must be prepared from one or a combination of three specific types of grapes (Colombard, Ugni Blanc, and Folle Blanche). It must be made to age for a minimum of two years. It must be distilled twice in copper pot stills bearing a specific shape and configuration (Charentais configuration is named after the French district which was the birthplace of the process). Its grapes should be harvested in October only, and it should be distilled only from first November to thirty first of March. The distillers are required to whisper the song La Marseillaise for every barrel thrice daily. Cognac should be made to age in French oak barrels obtained from one of two specified forests. Lesser forests are meant for peasants.
- The best Cognac happens to be a tad funky
The degree of Cognac deliciousness is known as rancio among the connoisseurs. Rancio is a Spanish-derived word that speaks of an Earthy, funky, umami quality that the best of the best Cognacs achieve.