A favourite of 19th-century highbrows like the royals of Sweden, England and France, this refined amber brandy is still making the A-list, appearing at star-studded soirees and as the favourite of hip hop heavy hitters who love to make a splash. Its superior quality and luxurious fruit, spice and vanilla flavours have lasting appeal and have made cognac a time-honoured must-have for toasting "the good life."
The smoothest of the grape-based spirits, cognac is a double-distilled brandy that originated in the 17th century and hails from its namesake region, located just north of Bordeaux, France. The Cognac area is divided into smaller appellations, each offering its own nuanced flavour profile.
If you’re a purist, simply pour your cognac into a balloon glass or snifter, cup the glass in your hand to warm it up a bit and enjoy. Older cognacs offer a hint of spice, while younger bottles deliver fruity or flowery notes. VSOP and XO cognacs are best enjoyed when served neat or with a drop of water, Scotch style. When mixing cognac cocktails, try choosing a younger spirit, usually designated VS.
Selecting a cognac is remarkably simple. Every cognac comes with an official grade stating its degree of excellence.
VS (very special) = aged at least two years
VSOP (very special old pale) = aged at least four years
XO (extra old) = aged at least 10 years, but most average 20 years or more