National Cognac Day might be the best day of all to present cold, hard evidence that Cognac is one of the hottest rising trends in the world of imbibes.
Back in the early 2000s, Cognac emerged as a popular liquor for a wider audience after the release of "Pass the Courvoisier" by rapper Busta Rhymes (Come on, you know it was one of your favorites!). Well, that rap hit really shifted things for Cognac (sales for the Courvoisier brand alone jumped 30 percent within weeks of the song's release). Before then, Cognac had long been thought of as something that wasn’t accessible or didn’t appeal to younger generations. Today the numbers show that millennials are the ones driving the brown spirit's surge (USA Today). And in this classic cocktail renaissance that we’ve been riding, there’s been a rekindled appreciation for the classic spirits too.
ABC Fine Wine and Spirits Director of Sales Alex Poreda, recently told Market Watch, “Next year will be interesting for Cognac. With global demand increasing, it appears some of the larger houses will go on allocation.”
Fortunately, no matter how much demand comes for Cognac, there will still be a fixed amount of the spirit available because of the nature of its production. Here are a few things to know about Cognac:
- Brandy is the varietal of Cognac. Not all brandy is Cognac, but Cognac is always brandy.
- Cognac must be made from Ugni Blanc (or Saint Emilion), Colombard or Folle Blanche grapes, frown in the AOC (Appellation d'origine controlee).
- Cognac must be double distilled in copper pot stills and must be aged at least two years in Troncais or Limousin oak barrels. It also must be at least 40 percent alcohol.
- The seal of the age of the liquid inside can be found on every label. From VS (Very Special, aged at least 2 years) to VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale, aged at least 4 years) and XO (Extra Old, aged at least 6 years), it’s a promise that even though the Cognac might have been aged much longer, the blend of eau-de-vie is at least designated.
These “rules” reveal why Cognac tends to live on the pricier side – the resources it requires are a little more cultivated that rice or grain. And those resources, wow, do they make for some fine sipping. One of the most wonderful characteristics about Cognac is the layers of fruit, floral, oak and pastry strata. One of our favorites, Hardy Legend 1863, opens on the nose with a surge of rose petals, dates and pear. At first sip, stone fruits echo from the aromatic wafts but then it morphs into a peach flambé with hints of bananas foster. A mid-palate of vanilla cappuccino flood the mouth, followed by a long finish of candied fruit, honey and caramel. Thirsty yet?
Check out other Cognacs here.