Le Cognac

Le Cognac

France's biggest Treasure.


7.9/10
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The uncrowned King of Spirits is back!
(All Hail the King)


Cognac has been and continues to remain the libation of choice of royalty, statesmen, leaders, people with acquired taste in general and... well, hip-hop superstars too. So, how has this “burnt wine” acquired the eminent status of being the most noble Spirit around?

The story of Cognac begins with the special Ugni Blanc white grape, cultivated on chalky land in Midwest France, the region of Cognac. The wine itself is very acidic and dry, almost undrinkable, but the winemakers discovered that it’s just perfect for distilling centuries ago. When you put the cask ageing and the influence of the neighbouring Atlantic Ocean into the equation, you’ll understand why they call it Eau-De-Vie (Water of Life). The same production steps are repeated by distillers worldwide, but the Spirit that trickles out of their stills can’t be called Cognac, merely Brandy.

Brandy isn't the only Spirit that's inextricably linked to Le Cognac, though. It's a bit ironic that Armagnac never managed to quite achieve Cognac's recognition or fame, even though it's made in the same way, is similar in taste, and has about a 200 year long head start on it.

Cognac was Napoleon’s drink of choice; it also fuelled the royal courts of England and Russia... and it remains the drink of the blue bloods until this very day. All evidence points to the conclusion that Cognac really is the uncrowned King of Spirits, and there is no sign of any cheeky contestants or trueborn heirs on the horizon.

The selection of Cognacs was quite easy to come up with… we just went for the ones that managed to bring out our inner Bonaparte!

Santé & thank you France!


Trivia & SmartAss Corner:

1) There are three different qualities of Cognac recognized by law: V.S., V.S.O.P., and X.O. (the names are in English, because the Cognac trade was originally developed by English speakers):
- V.S. - "Very Special" or “Three Stars”, designates a blend in which the youngest Brandy has matured in a cask for at least two years.
- V.S.O.P. – “Very Superior Old Pale" designates a blend in which the youngest Brandy has matured in the cask for at least four years, but the average age of the wood is much older.
- X.O. - "Extra Old” designates a blend in which the youngest Brandy is matured at least six years, although on average it’s upwards of 20 years. On 1 April 2016, the minimum maturation age of the youngest Brandy used in an X.O. blend will be bumped up to 10 years.

2) The wine used for Cognac (Ugni Blanc) is very dry, acidic, and thin, but excellent for distillation and ageing.

3) There are six different wine-growing areas (called: cru) authorised to produce Cognac; in descending order of prestige, they are: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires.

4) A blend of Grande and Petite Champagne Cognacs, with at least half coming from Grande Champagne, is known as Fine Champagne.

5) It was Dutch, not French traders that began the swirling history of Cognac (named after the town of Cognac in France). They distilled French wine at the start of the 17th century for the purposes of maritime transportation, and well, like they say, the rest is history.

6) Cognac has another sibling, Armagnac; its older, less acclaimed brother. It’s a bit of an irony that Armagnac never managed to achieve Cognac’s recognition or fame, even though it’s very similar in taste, and had a 200 year head start. This is mostly due to the fact that its region of origin didn’t have the good trade connections with the Dutch and English that the Cognac region enjoyed. The moral of this story kids? It’s all about location, location, location.

7) Rancio is a highly desirable nutty flavour normally found only in extra-aged fortified wines (Port, Sherry, Madeira, Marsala …) and fruit-based spirits: Cognacs, Calvados, and Armagnac. It appears in Cognac after roughly 10 years of ageing in oak casks, becoming even more intense as it ages.

8) 10 litres of white wine is needed to produce 1 litre of Cognac.

9) The late Kim Jong Il was one of the biggest individual consumers of Cognac in the world.

10) The French believe it or not, aren’t actually all that fond of Cognac. They export almost 90% of their production.

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There are six different wine-growing areas (cru) authorised to produce Cognac - in descending order of prestige: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires.

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Ratings & Reviews
Member Reviews and Ratings of Le Cognac
Sam
Sam,
I gave this an 9 because it surprised the hell out of me. Every one was different. Completely. And very tasty. Surprisingly. Can’t wait to put a bottle of Louis Royer in my home bar
 
Randy
Randy,
I am fan of all 3. The taste cards were dead on. The Royer was so smooth....
 
Matthew
Matthew,
Good kit. I wanted to sample a Cognac kit to see what all the hype is about. The samples were pretty tasty and all quite different... Cognac just isn’t my favorite.
 
Ken
Ken,
Really good variety
 
Nathan
Nathan,
Another well put together kit.
 
Josh
Josh,
This was the best tasting box, highly suggest this one to everyone.
 
Gareth
Gareth,
We had a great time enjoying the samples but I think there could have been more variety.
 
Kyle
Kyle,
Okay, I'm already a little drunk. I've had 3 glasses of Fernet Branca. Let's get this party started. Merlet VS - Nice fruity nose. I dunno, some oak I guess. Wow...that first sip is really nice, not exactly what I expect from a cognac. VERY fruity...stone fruits, Really fun spirit, I'd like to try it in a cocktail like a Devil's Milk or a Bora Bora. Okay, I'm gonna go have cig and try the next one. Louis Royer XO - Nice, complex bouquet. Again, fruity, but earthy cigar and chocolate notes. Very pleasant first sip, the earthy notes stand out here. Reaaly calm and mellow drink, could totally see myself drinking a couple of these after a day of doing a bunch of BS and thinking "yeah, it's all worth it." Nothing too life altering, but a good booze. By the by, I'm using a REAL snifter. I bought it from Williams & Sonoma so you know it's legit. Cupping it my hand, a la Bill Murray in Mad Dog and Glory. Aiight, time for #3. Baron Otard VSOP - BUTTER SCOTCH! Like a vanilla butter scotch is what I smell. It smells amazing, but how does it taste. Let's see...kinda disappointing. It just tastes like any old brandy. What a bummer, the smell is amazing but as soon as it hits your tongue it's gone. Oh well. Anyways...good set, really enjoyed the Merlet and Louis Royer, a big let down with the Baron Otard, which is nice but nothing special. This box is a solid B+ for drunken experimentation.
 
Peyton
Peyton,
Nice but not Fantastic set
 
Carmen
Carmen,
I am learning so many new tastes in these spirits! The fact that my palate is noticing the different flavors as I try them I’m learning to enjoy them more! The Louis Royer in this package has to be my Favorite by far!
 
Wenjun
Wenjun,
Fairly new to cognac, was a good eyeopener for me, definitely gave a good variety for reference to make future purchases
 
Charles
Charles,
Baron Otard is the best of the bunch but none where exceptional.
 
Tony
Tony,
I liked the Baron & Louis Royer
 
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