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THE ART OF COGNAC

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. . .Cognac is brandy, it is akin to blasphemy to say that all brandy is Cognac

Cognac, known as the “drink of kings”, is the jewel in the crown of luxury products and has become the increasing popular drinks of choice amongst Nigerians over the years. However, how many of us know what Cognac is?

Authenticity is everything and only few connoisseurs of the elegant recognise genuine class. In order to be called Cognac, this brandy must be produced in the cognac region of France and the grapes used to make Cognac must also be grown in that region under strict production regulations to create the finest quality brandies that stand the test of time and taste.

Universally acclaimed for its many incomparable qualities, this French brandy is steeped in history and heritage. So although it can be said that “all Cognac is brandy,” it is akin to blasphemy to say that all brandy is Cognac.

TYPES OF COGNAC

The youngest Cognacs are labelled a V.S. (Very Special) and can legally be retrieved from the barrel after just 30 months of aging. But it’s far more likely that most Cognac in any given V.S. bottling has rested in barrels for around five years. The V.S.O.P. (Very Special Old Pale) bottlings must be aged for a minimum of 4 1/2 years, while Cognacs bearing the designations X.O. (Extra Old) or Napoleon are guaranteed to be at least 6 years old. Of course there are some very precious Cognacs which do naturally command a price such as the Remy Martin Louis XIII Black Pearl Magnum and the Richard Hennessy.

HOW TO TASTE COGNAC

When it comes to drinking Cognac, one of the most important questions to understand is how to taste Cognac:

  • First Comes the Eye: Swirl the glass and look at the beads of alcohol. The softness of the “legs” indicates the complexity of the Cognac. Look at the colour of the Cognac to see if it is a light golden colour or a deeper hue.
  • Second is the Nose: Holding the glass at the chin level, inhale the vapours and try to identify what it is that you smell. Concentrate on noticing flowers and spicy notes. Flowers and fruits indicate a younger Cognac, whereas jammier notes imply an aged Cognac.
  • Third, Palate: Have a sip, but keep the liquid in our mouth. Remember, Cognac is sipped and savoured, not drunk. This is because you want to taste all the different nuances. Your tongue has different sensors in different areas, and you want to ensure that the Cognac touches all of these. Taste at the tip for sweetness, the back for bitterness and all the sides for saltiness and sourness.

How Does One Drink Cognac Properly?

From our point of view, the best Cognac is the one you experience in this entirety. That includes the taste, colour, brand, packaging, estate, distillery, history of the company and the family. However, when it comes to drinking Cognac, there are so many differing points of view and personal preferences to be taken into account. There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to enjoy your eaux-de-vie.

In fact, depending on the circumstances you find yourself in, you might enjoy drinking it in a multitude of different ways. For example, some younger Cognacs are specifically created for drinking chilled, such as ABK6 Ice or De Luze’s A blend while V.S.is commonly mixed with sodas. In general, you will probably find that most Cognac drinkers prefer their eaux-de-vie at hand temperature. When you hold the glass in your hand, your body heat gently warms the glass in your allowing the spirit to release the highly delicate notes that you wouldn’t notice at room temperature.

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