To me, there is something special about pouring a small glass of cognac on a winter’s evening, sometimes even accompanying a choice cigar. The aromas prepare the palate for the big warm hug of caramelised fruit followed by fresh floral notes. Luckily for me Cognac shed its stuffy image about the same time that Busta Rhymes was extolling the virtues of it in 2001, so I actually feel quite ‘down with the kids’ whenever I indulge with Montecristo and balloon-glass in hand.
Cognac has a long and colourful history, bolstered in recent years with help from Busta et al. Sales have ballooned in Asia too, meaning that a massive 98% of all Cognac is now exported to foreign markets. A distilled spirit made from grapes, Cognacs derive their character from three main sources – the soil, the distillation process, and the oak barrels. The various iterations of these three aspects define the final product.
There are three categories of Cognac. V.S (‘Very Special’) is a young style with the youngest component in the blend being at least 2 years old. V.S.O.P (‘Very Special Old Pale’) uses older wood and the youngest component of the blend is at least 4 years old. This, in my opinion is where the best value lies. X.O (‘Extra Old’) does what it says on the tin – the youngest component must be at least 6 years old but often they are 20 years old or more. Next year, the minimum age will be increased to 10 years. A good X.O can work wonders with a cigar – the flavours complement each other and the zip and verve of the cognac refreshes the palate
So let me introduce our new Cognacs by Cognac Frapin. Cognac Frapin is located in the heart of Cognac, in the Premier Cru region known as Grand Champagne. The house style displays the character of the region – rich, powerful and floral. The VSOP is incredibly drinkable and very well priced. The ‘VIP’ XO is enriched with reserves of very old brandies and is beautifully rounded. I can recommend them both safe in the knowledge that if it’s good enough for Busta, it’s good enough for me.