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Cognac represents French luxury and it is drink that gets poured into glasses on special occasions. Last week was great minds meeting to decipher this fine drink under the expert stewardship of Brandon, Remy Martin Brand Ambassador, North and East Africa. Through this intimate tasting, everyone got to earn more about Remy Martin VSOP and cognac in general. So, if you want to enjoy cognac, there are a few things that you must know or do.
1. Know Your Stuff
In order to appreciate something, you must be willing to furnish yourself with information about how it came to be. Don’t be intimidated. A little interest & research can go a long way and you will find that you will know so much after some time. To be honest, I had never tasted the VSOP and I had to do my homework. Thank God I’m always reading Liqour.com so many times than I’d care to admit but knowing what cognac is was a start. I then narrowed down to the specific brand to know what it was about, production methods, history etc. During the tasting, Brandon also gave us a lot of information to enhance the experience and enable us to interact with what was in our glass better.
Cognac is a type of brandy named after the town of Cognac in France. For this drink to be called cognac, it has to meet some requirements. It has to be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged for at least two years in French oak barrels. The barrels are from Tronçais or Limousin regions. The grapes have to be 90% from the the Ugni Blanc varietal from the Cognac region. The best thing is that the process of making cognac resembles wine or whisky making. However, cognac stays in the oak barrels for longer. There’s so much technical information out there and it’s up to you on how much you want to know.
2. Know the Cognac Brands
Some common cognac brands are Remy Martin, Hennessy, Martell and Courvoisier among others.
#PROTIP (Remy Martin)
Remy Martin was founded in 1724 and they attribute the flavour to the grapes and production method. The grapes are grown in the fertile chalky soils of Cognac, France. At Remy Martin, they believe that life is an intricate web of many experiences. People have different qualities that make them unique and this is the same thing with the cognac which is full of intricate flavours. The brand ambassador admitted discovering different tastes in every sip he takes at different times and places. He said that the cognac may reveal different nuances and flavors the more you have different encounters with it.
3. Know what VS, VSOP and XO mean
You may have seen these terms on Cognac Bottles. Eg. Remy Martin VSOP. What does this mean?
VS means Very Special and it represents a blend where the youngest brandy has been stored in barrels for 2 years. V.S.O.P. means Very Superior Old Pale and it represents a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least four years in a cask. XO is Extra Old and represents a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least six years in a cask. Knowing this will help you know exactly what you are drinking. Remy Martin only comes in XO and VSOP. The XO is more coveted and it is very expensive.
4. Know How to Serve the Cognac
What glasses do you use? Is there any special technique in serving? Should we chill it or serve it at room temp?
When serving cognac neat, a wide cognac glass (brandy sifter or balloon glass) ensures the flavours are released well. Some people propose serving the cognac in a wide glass then holding it with your palms to warm it and release the flavours. Each brand has specific recommendations on how to enjoy it and knowing this will ensure that the drink is reaching its full potential in terms of flavor and experience. If you are at a restaurant/ lounge, you can ask the waitstaff to help you out.
5. Find out how you enjoy your Cognac
Do you like it neat, on the rocks or on cocktails? And no, adding coke is not an option. It’s a sin!
If you are new to cognac, you can try it neat, then with a dash of water to intensify the flavours. You can then try it on the rocks. I repeat; Don’t add coke to your cognac. This is not Vodka we are sipping. 🙂 You can then try different cocktails to see what you like.
6. Savour the Cognac
If you are drinking cognac for the sake of getting drunk, this is not for you.
Lightly swirl the cognac. Don’t swirl as you would with wine because all you will be smelling is the alcohol. Lightly swirling will open it up without over dispersing the flavours. Look at its hue against a white background/ tile. Smell it. Take a sip and really savour the cognac. Take a second sip as this is when you get all the flavours.
Cheers to more fine cognacs in the future!
From the first and second sip, two words come to mind. LUXURY and OPULENCE. Theres this happy marriage between its bold flavour and velvety texture. It is also multifaceted in terms of aromas and was giving me “oaky”, fruity and floral aromas. I loved that it was very smooth and had a great finish.
*Where to Enjoy the Remy Martin VSOP in Kenya
You can enjoy this at the Balcony Bar, Villa Rosa Kempinski during their Social Night. The Remy Martin Social Night happens every Thursday & Friday, from 5.30pm with the first Thursday of every month having a DJ play. Cocktails are 1500 and for every cocktail, you get another free.