Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s art

Part 4 of the understanding cognac series: the deft hand of the master blender is critical to production

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s artAt first glance, cognac production seems straightforward. The local wine is distilled twice, aged in oak casks from a few years to decades and eventually bottled. In reality, it’s an exceedingly complex minuet where the subtle influences of terroir merge with the distiller’s art and ultimately flower under the deft hand of the master blender.…

With Cognac, it’s all about terroir

Cognac part 3: The environment, including the chalky soil, is everything when it comes to producing the right grapes

With Cognac, it’s all about terroirCognac begins as wine. Like any wine, it’s shaped in part by the environment in which it grows. Soil, aspect and climate, among other things, combine to create a unique environment, what the French call terroir. A wine, in turn, is a distinct expression of that terroir. In the Cognac region, terroir is, for the…

Cognac: A spirit’s spirit to survive and thrive

The traditional cognac houses have had to overcome grape plagues, the rising popularity of Scotch whisky, counterfeiting and war

Cognac: A spirit’s spirit to survive and thriveAugier, the first modern cognac house, was organized in 1643. Today the brand is owned by French spirits giant Pernod Ricard. It recently relaunched the brand with a line of cognacs said to reflect the early style of the product. Over the two centuries following 1643, many of the leading cognac houses, including the big…

Cognac, a short history of an enduring spirit

Part 1 of a seven-part series on the history, production and business of cognac

Cognac, a short history of an enduring spiritCognac is a type of brandy produced in the Charente region of France, centred around the towns of Cognac and Jarnac, and stretching from the Île de Ré to the Gironde Estuary on the Atlantic coast, to Angoulême and the foothills of the Mastiff Central. The Cognac Delimited Region, the exclusive area where cognac can…

Casting about for new Canadian trade partners

The CANZUK proposal wouldn't replace the United States as the key player in our economy, but at least it would give us more options

Casting about for new Canadian trade partnersCANZUK International was formed to promote a European Union-like agreement for the free movement of citizens, free trade and foreign policy co-ordination between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and United Kingdom. The organization was created in November 2014, first as The Commonwealth Freedom of Movement Organization, by James Skinner, its executive director. According to Skinner: “The…

Debunking the myth of immigrant assimilation

Language, religious laws and practices, cultural and culinary traditions all function to discourage, prevent or, at the very least, slow down assimilation

Debunking the myth of immigrant assimilationThere are approximately 260 million immigrants in the world. An immigrant is defined as someone residing in a country other than their place of birth. Of that number, roughly 50 million are “illegal immigrants” who lack official authorization to reside in their host country. In 2017, roughly 3.4 per cent of the world’s population of…

The Mueller indictments: laughing all the way to the Kremlin

The entire episode feels increasingly like a Russian intelligence operation designed to create political turmoil in the U.S. and exacerbate social tensions

The Mueller indictments: laughing all the way to the KremlinThe Kremlin’s favourite soap opera these days is the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Each new episode is followed intently. It’s unclear whether popcorn or caviar is served, and whether fans at the Kremlin consider the program a drama or a comedy. Its popularity, however, is indisputable. The investigation…

The western media’s appalling embrace of North Korea

The international media is so blind in its disdain for Trump that they are whitewashing the crimes of one of the world’s most repressive regimes

The western media’s appalling embrace of North KoreaThe government of Kim Jong-un is one of the world’s most repressive, holding North Korea’s 25 million people in a virtual slave state. A third or more of North Koreans suffer from malnutrition. The regime’s penal camps are among the harshest on Earth, with a reported 20 per cent of inmates dying within 12 months…

$45,000 bottle of Scotch whisky has decades-long gestation

Cask 121 was filled the same day that Churchill, Roosevelt, de Gaulle and Eisenhower met at the Casablanca Conference in Morocco

$45,000 bottle of Scotch whisky has decades-long gestationGordon and MacPhail’s latest whisky bottling is likely to be priced somewhere between $45,000 and $50,000 per bottle. That makes it the most expensive Scotch whisky ever offered in Canada. At that price, don’t expect it to fly off the shelves. Then again, it’s unlikely that more than one bottle will be allocated to Canadian…

Is Europe at a crossroads?

The next few years will determine whether Europe’s current problems represent bumps in the road or a fundamental turning point in its grand vision

Is Europe at a crossroads?Imagine perusing your local newspaper one morning to discover that the province of Alberta had voted to secede from Canada and was in increasingly tense talks with the federal government over the terms of its departure. In the meantime, the lower mainland of B.C. had voted to leave the province in a bitterly contested election…