Cognac has been around longer than the United States has been a country, and that can be a little intimidating. Its staying power is as evident as its typical flavor notes and fascinating aromas such as fig, toffee, spice, pear, and most exotically, passionfruit. With tastes that vary depending on the season, cognac is a great spirit to get into this Fall while trying to kindle those feelings of coziness as the temperatures cool.
Cognac is produced in the Eastern French region, and it has been for over 500 years. It gets its name from a town in the area. This place also has a prosperous history in wine production.
The reason cognac is as it appears today is due to Dutch traders who were attempting to import wine from the region but weren’t having a lot of success. The wines they were importing would typically spoil before arriving back in the Netherlands. To get the wine to make it that far successfully was to distill it two times. From this, it got the name “brandewijn,” or burnt wine. If you say that out loud, you can hear where the term brandy comes from. Over time, the production of this spirit in that region became notable, thus distinct with the name Cognac.
Cognac is made from grapes. They are fermented anywhere from five to seven days, and the wine produced during this process is then distilled twice. What results is a colorless brandy that is then aged for two years in oak barrels.
Cognac is distinguished by different labeling systems such as VS (Very Special), meaning it has only been aged for two years; VSOP (Very Special Old Pale), suggesting it has been aged at least 4 years, and XO (Extra Old), meaning it has been aged for at least 10 years. After that, there is XXO (Extra Extra Old) which means it has been aged for at least 14 years; and then the granddaddy of them all, Hors d’Age, meaning it is beyond age, being aged for at least 30 years, but possibly up to 100.
This spirit should be treated as special as it is with proper glassware. While a snifter is an excellent option, any fluted glass will suffice. This allows the spirit to come to room temperature carefully, and the glass will allow the imbiber to swirl it and introduce oxygen into the cognac. This can awaken new flavors.
The Cles Des Ducs VSOP can be an exciting place to start. With a fruit-forward aroma, you’ll notice flavors of spice and almonds. The fruits you can expect to experience with this cognac are pear, plum, apple, and apricot.
Hardy Cognac VSOP is a midrange spirit, again with fruity flavors. Pear is apparent here, as well as spice and toasted wood. The taste lingers and leaves behind Fall fruits, perfect for this time of year.
Payless Liquors carries a range of cognacs to fit any budget. From the very affordable all the way up to more luxury brands. Stop by today to find your new favorite Autumn spirit.