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.…

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…

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…

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…

Aging and blending create cognac’s extraordinary fusion

Part 5 of the understanding cognac series: The blend is at the heart of cognac and its formulation is the industry’s highest art form

Aging and blending create cognac’s extraordinary fusionAfter distillation, the new spirit is casked and moved to a warehouse where, depending on its intended use, it may age for a period of a few years to several decades. Generally speaking, cognac is aged in barrels made from oak from either the Tronçais or Limousine forests. The eau de vie is aged in…

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenon

Export sales drove the development of the industry, a feature as true today as it was three centuries ago

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenonPart 6 of our series The Business of Cognac From the very beginning, the cognac industry was dominated by cognac houses that acted as intermediaries between the producers of eau de vie and their overseas markets. Many of the first cognac houses were founded by English and Irish entrepreneurs: Jean Martell was from Jersey, while…

Cognac’s global reach keeps spreading

While making inroads in urban American culture and gaining a foothold in China, the industry is also innovating its products

Cognac’s global reach keeps spreadingPart 7 of our series The Business of Cognac According to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the industry’s trade association, cognac’s three largest markets are the United States (78.7 million bottles), Singapore (23.6 million bottles) and China (22.6 million bottles). Singapore has the distinction of having the largest per capita consumption of Cognac in the…