Celebrate National Cognac Day on June 4th by getting to know three unique cognac makers.
Cognac has been making a comeback with United Stated drinkers and for good reason. The French spirit has a unique flavor palette that is not only delightful alone, but a unique ingredient when creating craft cocktails.
In order to be considered a cognac and not another type of brandy, it must be distilled within the designated region surrounding the town of Cognac and it must follow a set of production methods. All cognac must be made from Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche or Colombard grapes, although most are made from Ugni Blanc. The spirit must also be distilled twice in copper pots and aged for a minimum of two years in barrels made from Limousin or Tronçais oak.
From there the spirit is distilled anywhere from two to over 20 years depending on the age expression and brand. Despite the regulations, geographical constraints, and limited ingredients, master distillers across the region create highly unique bottles worth trying. When you’re looking to try your next cognac, try bottles from these three distilleries.
This award winning distillers was founded in the 1920’s when founder Jens Reidar developed a passion for the region and its spirits. Currently, only the lines Aqua Ignis expression is available in the US. What makes the line unique is that they use Tronçais oak casks that have been steam toasted. The process is cumbersome — each cask must be submerged in hot water before being toasted over a fire. This process reduces the acidity, smoke, and tannins that usually come from the wood, meaning the resulting spirit is much smoother and sweeter with intense vanilla notes.
Founded in 1838 by an association of local vineyards the line got its name after being purchased by Jean-Gabriel Monnet in 1897. The company is famous for their “sunny” style cognacs that feature warm, fruity, and strong floral hints. The collection includes a VS, VSOP, XO, and a unique Sunshine varietal. Sunshine features a unique roundness and fruitiness that is simultaneously elegant and accessible. The bright gold liquid has notes of quince jam and spring flowers on the nose with tasting notes of sun-filled summer fruits, gingerbread, and vanilla.
As one of the oldest cognac houses, Augier was founded in 1643 and run by the Augier brothers, quickly becoming one of the biggest cognac producers of the time. In 2015 the line was reborn with three expressions: VS, VSOP, and XO. What makes this line unique is that they blend their line with eaux-de-vies coming from Oléron Island, which brings notes of salty mineralogy and brine to their finished product. Some say the cognac has an almost tequila like flavor thanks to the salt.