1) It’s Often On Allocation. Mostly Because Of China
As a Hennessey spokesman put it to me: If 11 percent of China drank one bottle of Cognac per year, the entire Cognac region couldn’t produce of the liquid to meet that demand.
2) This Is Paradis
Most Cognac houses have a special cellar where they keep their oldest and best vintages.
3) The French Don’t Particularly Like It
While Cognac houses can’t make enough of the drink to meet demand Chinese demand, the French market has proven rather indifferent to the spirit. Fun fact: Only about three percent of Cognac is actually consumed in France. The rest is exported.
4) It’s Basically Brandy
Cognac is, technically speaking, a type of brandy. That means it’s made by distilling wine, and then aging the resulting spirit (the French call it eau de vie) in wood barrels.
The main difference between Cognac and your basic brandy: Like Tequila, Bourbon and Champagne, the Cognac label can only be applied to the spirit if it was produced in a specific geographic region—the fittingly titled Cognac region of western France, a couple hundred miles southwest of Paris, and just a bit north of Bordeaux.
5) How To Read A Cognac Label
While some companies have their own unique ways of categorizing their Cognacs, here are the four most common categories, ranked by age, expense, and (usually) quality: VS, VSOP, XO, Extra. With VS, nobody will blink if you ask to mesh it with a mixer or water. But by the time you get to XO and Extra and their hundreds-to-thousands-of-dollars-per-bottle-price-tags… well, drinking it any other than neat (with possibly a drop of water, Scotch-style) will be viewed as a tragedy by Cognac connoisseurs.
6) It’s All About Rancio
Speak to a Cognac master blender, and they’ll often use the word “rancio” to describe a flavor present in many of the oldest and most expensive blends. But this word, which shares its etymological roots with the less-than-appetizing “rancid”, lacks an exact equivalent.
Full story on forbes.com