‘The King of Alcohol’… ”… A tipple whose production requires time and involvement. Drinking it opens the door to the eminent world of elegance and prestige!

Cognac originates from the region (and city) of Cognac which spreads over the east of France, from the Charente River all the way up to Bordeaux. It is a distillate produced in regions surrounding the city. This tipple is produced from white grape varieties: ugni blac (saint-emillion), folle blanche and colombard which must constitute at least 90% of the product. In order to obtain the highest quality, cognac undergoes the process of double distillation in copper stills with catalytic properties that do not influence the flavour of the beverage. The first distillation round gives a distillate called brouillis with the richest aromas of flowers - it should contain as little sugar and as much acid as possible. Further distillation of brouillis gives the so-called coeur, also known as eaux-de-vie. The next stage of the production process is maturing of the 70% distillate in oak casks. This gives the tipple the right flavour and aroma. As a result of the maturing process, the coeur loses its strength and decreases in volume. The process is carried out in casks made of oak wood from the Limousin and Tronçais forest and lasts from three years to several decades.

Depending on the time of maturing in casks, Cognac can be divided into the following categories:

V.S. Or Three stars – signifies Cognac whose distillate matured for at least 2.5 years,

V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale),V.O. (Very Old) – at least 4.5 years of maturing,

X.O., Napoleon, Extra, Hors d’âge  – minimum of 6 years, special Cognac from this category mature even longer – 15 years and more.

The following may influence Cognac quality: size of casks, humidity and temperature of air in the maturing cellar, size of cellar. Cognacs mature for hundreds of years in the same rooms covered with grey and black deposits of fungal mycelium that feed on alcohol vapour. The evaporated distillate is called the ‘angel part’ (part des anges). A good quality cognac is first and foremost the result of gradual coupage of several couers of different origin, year and strength made by a taster.

During this process the distillate is usually diluted with water to allow it to reach the desired strength of 40%. It also happens that during the long maturing process the distillate reaches the right strength by itself. Many years of maturing of cognac in casks undoubtedly enriches its flavour and aroma, however it is the good and pure distillate that decides on the quality of the tipple. During the last stage of production, producers frequently add caramel to the cognac in order to give the characteristic hue of dark honey. Bearing this in mind, it is important to refute a claim that the darker the cognac, the older it must be…


According to the legends, the secret of double distillation is owed to a 16th Century knight named Jacques de la Croix-Maron. Apparently, the knight had a nightmare that Satan wanted to boil his soul. When this did not work he threatened to boil the soul once again. At this point Jacqus woke up certain that double distillation would give brand new and different edge. This is how cognac was discovered…

The beginning of cognac production is dated by the 16th Century. At this time vineyards produced such high amounts of wine that they had a problem with marketing it. One of the ideas to solve the problem of wine surplus was to distill it. This gave an astonishingly good effect and people very quickly started to appreciate the quality of strengthened alcohol. In 1830 cognac was bottled for the first time. Initially it was transported in casks; therefore in most cases the consumer did not know the producer nor the name of beverage. In order to change this people started to stick labels on bottles which featured the name of the producer. This was the time when the majority of famous cognac producers started operation, such as: Bisquit founded in 1819 in Jarnac by Alexander Bisquit, Hennessy established in 1765 by an Irish captain, Richarda Henness, Martell – initially owned by an Englishman from Jersey Island, Otard founded by a Scottish aristocrat Remy, or Camus, who along with some wine producers established an extensive enterprise in 1863.

How to drink Cognac?

Cognac is usually drank as a digestif, following dinner or supper. The best serving temperature is 18-20 degrees C. In olden days when temperatures in households oscillated around 15-16 degrees, the glass had to be held by the head and stirred around in order for the beverage to reveal its full flavour and aroma. Currently, when even during wintertime temperature does not fall below 18 degrees, there is no need to warm the cognac in hands.The glass can be held by the foot. It is not recommended to energetically stir a cognac glass, as this may cause excessive airing of the tipple and vaporization of the entire bouquet. To really feel the magic of cognac we should devote some time, patience and attention. To feel changes  that occur in the beverage it is necessary to wait approximately five minutes from pouring. The most intense aroma is inside the glass, more delicate aromas rise outside. Cognac has the aromas of vanilla, nuts, plums, biscuits, mushrooms, raisins, flowers and wood.

The glass used to serve cognac is just as import as the tasting. It is commonly believed that cognac should be drank from a balloon shaped glass on a short foot, known as a cognac glass. However connoisseurs of the subject claim that in order to bring out all values, cognac should be drank from a tulip shaped glass whose sides narrow towards the top. The construction of this glass allows the concentration of aromas before they are fully developed.

Take your time while drinking cognac, enjoy every sip!

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