Cognac for Beginners

So you want to learn about Cognac? That’s great, because it really is a versatile spirit that can be enjoyed in many ways – which also becomes more and more popular in China and other countries

But before you rush out to the local store and make a purchase, let’s take a brief look at the basics. Knowing just a small amount can genuinely help you decide what to buy, and also assist in building your knowledge base for future purchases.

Descriptions of Cognac

There are three main methods of describing Cognac. These are as follows:

VS CognacYoung, aged for a minimum of two and a half years. A powerful, fiery taste. Can be enjoyed neat or as a mixed drink.

VSOP Cognac – A little older, aged for at least four years. Many are much older, but a Cognac is described as per the single youngest component in the blend. A versatile age Cognac, as can be drunk both neat or with a mixer.

XO Cognac – The oldest ‘official’ age, having been allowed to mature in oak barrels for a minimum of six years. An XO would really be a Cognac to enjoy neat (or perhaps with ice), as that way you won’t drown out the wonderful complexities of aromas and flavors that have built up over time.

Enjoying Cognac at home

Many people like to build their own ‘Cognac bar’ in their house. Depending on space, this could be a large affair, or simply taking up a little area in the corner of your living or dining room.

One thing that will help your enjoyment is to have the correct glasses. The perfectionist would use a tulip glass. But a traditional brandy style balloon glass will suffice.

Of course, if you plan to also enjoy Cognac as a long drink, or in a cocktail (and we highly recommend to do this), then you might want glasses such as highballs, lowballs, martini, and champagne flutes.

Don’t forget your sundries, such as a cocktail shaker, ice bucket and tongs, sharp knife to cut fruits etc.

Cognac: Neat or mixed?

Gone are the days when the ‘only’ way to drink Cognac was from a massive balloon glass, by the fire, puffing on a fat stogie…  Oh, and naturally this was strictly a male only environment.

In the 21st century Cognac is one of the trendiest drinks there is. From the hip hop artist to the high powered exec: The funky cocktail bar to a traditional after dinner digestif-Cognac hits the spot in all aspects.

The big name brands, such as Hennessy, Remy Martin, Courvoisier, and Martell have all taken this on board.  There are some great offerings, from the VS level, such as Hennessy Pure White Cognac, through VSOP, check out Remy Martin Prime Cellar Selection Number 16 Cognac, to XOs such as Martell XO Extra Old Cognac, and Courvoisier XO Imperial Cognac.

One of the best things about Cognac in the 21st century is that there really isn’t a right or wrong way to drink it. If you like it neat, then that’s great. But if you fancy it over ice, or in a cocktail, then go for it. Heck, you can even enjoy it with Coke!

It’s your drink. It’s your Cognac. So drink however you choose. The only ‘rule’ in the world of Cognac today is to enjoy… And we can’t say fairer than that!


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