MARKETING/DESIGN/CONSUMER TRENDS/INSPIRATIONS Cognac & Brandy News for Consumers & Industry Experts
An interesting recent article from ‘The Star online magazine’ reports on Hennessy Cognac in Malaysia. I find this article pertinent as it reveals a set of perspectives on cognac which I believe explains what sets it apart from other types of spirits.
These characteristics are:
1) First it begins with the barrels. Made of French oak, specifically sourced from the forests of Limousin.
2) Light barrel toasting. When barrels are made they are burnt or rather fired inside to stimulate the chemical reaction with the contact of the spirits aging inside. The more you toast the bolder the smoky taste and the lesser other flavors will come out. There is a debate about toasting versus burning oak barrels. The difference is like when you prepare your breakfast and you have to set your brand new toaster (1) you do not know if 1 or 2 minutes will do and (2) everyone has a different preference in how much they like their bread to be toasted. An error of setting will get you to burn your toasts. Sometimes oak barrels are consciously burnt. cognac or armagnac’s barrels are toasted, bourbon’s oak barrels are for instance burnt. Try bourbon and you will see an overwhelming smoky taste because of that. Now, there is no good or bad, it is a question of tradition and choice.
3) Longer aging of eaux-de-vie. In general and by comparison cognac are aged longer. For instance, Tequilas are aged 5 years maximum. Why because a good tequila is about tasting the quality of the agaves being used to make it and with extended aging this goes away and it defeats the nature of this spirit.
4) Assemblage. I say assemblage rather than ‘blending’ as this term is being looked down as a way of getting ride of bad blends by mixing with good blends. Assemblage is more of a conscious type of selective blending – so I will say assemblage instead. And I insist cognac is about assemblage who ever is trying to tell you the opposite is wrong – period. “Single this” and “single that” is just inferior cognac but I agree the non-blended cognacs are more unique and why not trying them – but again this is not the nature of what cognac is about.
5) Factors like the weather, soil conditions and the timing of t he harvest. Terroir and tradition makes cognac a unique and original product.
6) Hence importance of the cellar. The cellar dryness and humidity dictate the smoothness and aromas. Higher humidity are favored.
7) Officially and/or unofficially endorsed by famous hip hop entertainers. Celebrities just do not drink eaux-de-vie or grapas, etc… That does not mean they are right.