For the last couple of weeks, I’ve teased about this series of episodes about Cognac. Last week, we spoke about a new American Brandy and how the entire category is actually having a resurgence in popularity and a real moment in cocktail culture. We touched on the history a bit. It’s a spirit created by distilling wine, and it dates back to the beginning of distillation. But it was mostly in the context of brandy in America. We all know the most famous brandy, the benchmark to which we have looked to for generations is Cognac – The grandaddy of brandies, that oh so elegant spirit named after a small town in Western France and produced for centuries.
I was lucky enough to visit the region recently with the BNIC – the professional organization behind Cognac. The goal was to expose us to as many varied Cognac houses as possible, to soak in the region, learn about the history, techniques and traditions. And we did. It was incredible and overwhelming and has made for a very difficult editing process for this podcast. Since this is such a huge subject, I thought it best to have a series devoted to all things Cognac.
Over the course of my visit, I was able to sit down with a cellar master in the center of Grand Champagne who oversees a cognac house for a family in its 21st generation, I spoke with a young first generation producer of experimental Cognacs whose father and grandfather farmed grapes for other houses for years, and I met with the house of Cognac that services the Queen of England.
In this first episode, we meet two gentleman. First up is David Boileau, a Cognac educator and ambassador for the BNIC since 2006. We star with some basic Cognac 101, the phylloxera infestation that nearly destroyed the wine and Cognac industry, and the signature cocktail of the town of Cognac…
My second guest is Jacques Blanc who is the house historian and tour guide of Maison Ferrand of Pierre Ferrand Cognac. This was our first Cognac house that we visited and toured and it made for a great welcome to the region. We talked about Pierre Ferrand’s history of experimentation, Dry and Wet Cellar aging, and how he was able to recover the lost history of the Ferrand family.
This week’s featured cocktail is the signature drink of Cognac:
1.5 ounces Cognac VSOP
2 ounces lemon-lime soda
4 thin slices fresh ginger
1 lime peel
1 long piece cucumber
Put lime peel and ginger into glass, pour in 3/4 oz Cognac, lightly muddle. Fill half the glass with ice, and stir. Pour in the remaining Cognac. Top off with lemon-lime soda and garnish with cucumber, stir well and enjoy