Cognac is known worldwide and is often associated with a high quality life style, due to its relatively high price. Cognac-producing regions should not be confused with the northeastern region of Champagne, a wine region that produces sparkling wine by that name The production of cognac much more costly than whiskey, gin or vodka for example. This is because cognac is distilled from wine and then aged in oak barrels, blended and bottled. The first step of the wine production is already one step more than, say, in the production of whiskey. Therefore, there are just 4 main cognac brands and hundreds of smaller ones.
Cognac get produced in the Cognac region in France, which is located in the South West of the country, in the Departements of Poitou-Charentes. The town Cognac is the center of the cognac production and houses the oldest cognac houses around, such as Hennessy or Courvoisier Cognac for instance.
These cognac houses date back hundreds of years, and follow strict traditions of production and quality control. Courvoisier Cognac and Cognac by Rémy Martin are another two cognac brands that should be named amongst the oldest and most recognized cognac estates in the world.
There are of course hundreds of other cognac producers, some smaller, others bigger. Of course they can’t all achieve the same visibility and consumer base, but many are just as high in quality as the big brands. Camus Cognac or Cognac Tiffon, for instance, are cognac houses that are very respected by connoisseurs and industry professionals for the high quality products they sell, but perhaps less so amongst the larger, international audience.
Many of these big brands buy grapes and eaux-de-vie (which cognac is made from) from small wine growers in the cognac region. This assures a high quantity of output and that the individual cognacs can be blended in order to taste the same. Considering that a VSOP cognac or an XO cognac needs to age for 15 to 30 years in average, the big cognac houses need a big stock to draw from when it comes to blending the spirit.
And then there are other cognac brands, or projects rather, such as Conjure Cognac, which are marketed by cognac producers to target foreign markets and a younger consumer group. This particular cognac was branded by the US rapper Ludacris, who – as many other hip hop stars – wanted to launch his own line of cognac. It’s a relatively young cognac that if often used for mix drinks, popular in the club and music scene nowadays.
One can also appreciate much smaller producers like André Petit Cognac or ABK6, who have comparably tiny productions. But the quality is no less and their cognacs are interesting and definitely worth trying.