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For years, I, too, to be a vast whiskey drinker – first bourbon, climate rye, followed by Scotch. But my stubborn beverage of selection would be replaced after the fatality of mine teetotaling grandfather.

As the family members boozer, i was tasked v assessing Grandpa’s liquor cabinet, mainly untouched for the critical 30 years. Soon, i was unceremoniously dumping dozens the corroded, half-drunk party of ancient gin, cheap blackberry brandy, and also oddly fancy wine down the sink. All that remained after the an excellent Liquor Massacre the ‘16 was part Michter’s rye native the ‘80s, a bit of fancy-looking Bordeaux (that turned out to be about as valuable as a jug of Drano), and a modest bottle of Cognac.

Judging by its faded, unassuming label, mine cousins and also I had assumed that the Cognac – like many bottles sampled prior to it — would certainly taste like warm ass. Because that laughs, ns cracked it open anyway come facetiously savor a long, comical sip. But…it to be good. Really good. Incredible, in fact.



When poured, aromas of dried figs, vanilla, and leather virtually burst the end of the glass. It was even much more intense on the palate: rich and sweet, with a smooth, elegant finish that seemed to last forever. In ~ moments, we had tracked down a duplicate party of this 1970s Martell VSOP Cognac…selling on one auction site for end $400.

I choked a little, inhaling a couple of drops of my future child’s college fund. What was this very delicious spirit, and why was it for this reason expensive? Wasn’t this the stuff the Fetty Wap had named his formation after? how the hell go it acquire into my Grandpa’s hands?

Distilled from wine, Cognac is a French product developed by foreigners; to this day, far more Cognac is exported than enjoyed in France. To acquire French wine back to the Netherlands without spoiling, visiting Dutch vendors would double-distill it right into “brandewijn” (or “burnt wine”), and transport it house in oak barrels. That is this maturation process that would certainly transform “brandy” right into something truly extraordinary, infusing it through vanilla, caramel, and “rancio” seasonings from the oak the can ideal be defined as nutty, earthy, or even funky.

Cognac, that course, is brandy particularly from the Cognac an ar of France. Like Scotch whisky or tequila (a type of mezcal), it comes from the actual place for i beg your pardon its named. However unlike Scotch, make from malted barley, Cognac is made from a much more delicate, seasonal life material: grapes. And also unlike tequila, Cognac is barrel-aged because that a much, much much longer time. Thus, Cognac isn’t simply expensive to lure status prize seekers – its high price is justification by that extremely restricted production (Cognac provides up much less than 1% the the world's spirits by volume!).


I dropped in love through Cognac not only for the similarities come barrel-aged whiskey, but additionally for the importance its provenance contributes come its identity. It’s a craft product that deserve to be imitated, but not replicated everywhere else in the world.

If you’re currently as intrigued together I was, examine out the adhering to tips – and also product suggestions – for enjoying your Cognac like a well-informed pro.

“Life is about pleasure,” says Patrice Piveteau, Cellar grasp for Cognac Frapin. Vice versa, Americans often tend to follow money, the French follow pleasure itself. (Case in point: words “gourmand” doesn’t bring such an unfavorable connotations in French.) ns think we have the right to learn a thing or 2 from the French through prioritizing enjoyment over bragging rights. Though some Cognacs might be worth countless dollars, lock won’t necessarily lug you any much more pleasure 보다 those going for a tenth the the price (trust me – I’ve had plenty of in both categories). Don’t drink Cognac for any kind of other factor than come revel in the fluid itself.

While today’s smartphone society values immediate gratification over all else, Cognac is and constantly has been all about patience: the takes time come produce, and also time come appreciate. Slow-moving down! Pour yourself a glass of “XO” (Extra Old) Cognac and take your time through it. Think around what that smells and tastes like, and also what entered making it. Once sipped meditatively, Cognac can carry us some much-needed peace and also sanity in a far-too-fast-paced world.

However, cocktails – usually made with younger “VS” and “VSOP” Cognacs – undoubtedly administer the smoothest allude of entry. Germain Canto, founder of cocktail consultancy Konoisseur, produced the food selection for Bar Louise in Cognac, France. Among his finest Cognac-based creations are the “Copper” (cacao, orange, and umeshu liqueur), “Mint Oaked” (like a French mojito — made with lime juice, sugar, egg whites, and also ginger ale), and also “Jasmine Collins” (with jasmine tea, lime juice, soda water, and also ginger ale). No fancy ingredients top top hand? simply fill a glass the iced Cognac through ginger ale to taste, as most locals reap the spirit.

The best Cognac brands – endorsed by musicians, actors, and also athletes – have actually inundated us through commercials over the critical decade. Hennessy, Remy Martin, Courvoisier, and also Martell account for over 80 percent the sales in the United states (Hennessy alone is more than 50 percent!). But past these big Four space smaller houses that room only well-known in the U.S. Among connoisseurs and bartenders – and to many of this educated few, their stuff is also better 보다 the huge guys’! below are 5 to obtain to know:

Cognac Frapin has 240 that the 13,000 hectares of vines in Grande Champagne. Your Chateau Fontpinot XO is among the ideal of what they need to offer, a Cognac aged only in dry cellars, where an ext water evaporates, and the soul becomes focused, fine, and elegant end the course of decades. Comparison this through Frapin’s equally awesome Cigar mix XO, make from eaux-de-vie aged only in wet cellars, wherein the soul becomes round, supple, and luscious.

Bisquit’s specialty is a long distillation ("time is what you do it," together the slogan goes), which gives it that signature flavor. Including an extra hour or for this reason of distillation time enables Bisquit to extract heavier molecules native the distillate, because that a heavier soul with more body. Your VSOP is one of the richest and also most flavorful, through white flowers on the nose, and well-integrated hardwood on the palate.

Ferrand’s passionate owner and master blender Alexandre Gabriel is equally invested in respecting Cognac’s legacy and history as he is in innovating. This is obvious in assets like his Renegade series, consisting of eaux-de-vie aged in Sauternes or chestnut wood barrels no longer typical or (gasp!) also legally allowed by AOC regulations. You also can’t go wrong through Ferrand’s 1840 original Formula, perfect because that cocktails favor juleps, punches, or crustas (ask her 19th century friends).

The saturday generation the a winemaker family dating ago to 1805, François Bouju is the present proprietor that Cognac Bouju. With only 30 hectares the 100 percent Ugni Blanc in Grande Champagne, Bouju dead on the layout upheld by his ancestors through rustic eau-de-vies that pick up more complexity through expanded aging. In fact, Bouju keeps his Cognac in brand-new oak because that much much longer than numerous distilleries, v plenty that complex, deeply colored (nearly black!) spirits favor the strongly woody, spicy, (and as necessary named) Très Vieux Cognac.

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The Cognac-native Philbert brother come from a lineage that has created solely because that the huge houses for centuries. Now, Pierre Olivier distills in Touzac (Grande Champagne), while Xavier distills in Etriac (Petit Champagne) under the family name. Like Ferrand, the Philberts are innovators, playing with small vintage batches and experimenting v finishing Cognac in different types of barrels: notably, Xavier’s rare Cask Petite Champagne aged in Sauternes casks, and Pierre Olivier’s rarely Cask Grande Champagne age in Sherry Oloroso barrels.