A guest article of Jannik Laursen from statusselect.com
Until recently Cognac has been a drink appreciated mostly by niche markets of connoisseurs primarily in places like France, Scandinavia and Asia. However, recently thanks to the Hip Hop industry, Cognac has made it’s way into the main stream culture in North America.
The introduction of Cognac to new markets is a great trend and I am grateful to see Cognac receive the publicity it deserves. With this recent Cognac boom, we are primarily seeing a boom in the younger and more inexpensive range of Cognacs, ranging from VS to VSOP. Which is great, because for a long time, VS Cognacs did not receive enough recognition. However, one has to understand that a VS cognac has very different characteristics than an XO cognac, and therefore must be treated differently.
Among the old school Cognac drinkers, it is considered wrong to mix cognac with anything, including ice! Old school Cognac drinkers generally drink cognac neat at room temperature or warmed up with a brandy warmer, to further enhance the neuances of this fine drink. Putting Cognac on the rocks or mixing it, cheapens the experience for this group of Cognac drinkers. This is because this group of Cognac drinkers prefers to drink the more aged and refined Cognacs, ranging from VSOP to XO grades. For this group it is all about quality over quantity, and taking the time to appreciate every neuance that this fine drink has to offer.
The Hip Hop culture and the mainstream media on the other hand, are promoting the younger VS grade cognacs. The VS grade cognacs are actually great for mixing, and taste great served on the rocks. This is a brilliant marketing strategy, because they are taking a drink that for a long time has not been much appreciated and are selling it to a group that genuinely can appreciate it. Drinkers of this grade of Cognac are generally younger and focus much more bang for your buck, than quality per serving.
While this new Cognac boom is fantastic for the Cognac industry, with so much attention focused on this younger grade of Cognac, new bartenders are starting to treat VSOP and XO Cognacs like VS Cognacs. In the last year I have seen an huge increase of Bartenders serve me Cognac on the rocks or even as a shot! A shot!… How am I expected to be able to appreciate the nuances of a Cognac, when it is served in a shot glass? It is impossible.
Hopefully, this is just a short term side effect of this recent boom. But until then, it is us, the old schoolers, that have to change the way we order Cognac. For now, we have to specify such things as: no ice and in a brandy snifter… things that we didn’t have to specify before.