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.

Rapper smelling Yak

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.

Thumbnail pic: AutumnRedux, license

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Guest article about alarming side effect to the recent Cognac boom

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Max is a spirits expert and speaker, into marketing, technology, startups, and business development. He’s also a farmer. He likes tools and machines, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul. Included in his Top 10 Cognacs are the Audry XO and Bache Gabrielsen 1973.Max founded Cognac Expert in 2010 at his family’s estate in Poullignac, in the Cognac region, France. Started as a blog, today Cognac Expert is the world’s largest website about all things Cognac, a blog, and a specialized online shop featuring 800+ different Cognac bottles.


  1. Avatar

    I suppose this is some sort of progress, but only possibly…! My major concern, as with anything which becomes “fashionable” is that it will be just that, a fad, a passing acquaintance, something and nothing to be tossed aside when the next “new thing” comes along – whatevr that may be.

    The people who drink cognac in shot glasses, or with ice, with Coca-Cola, green tea etc are not drinking cognac because they like it; they are drinking it because they think it is “The thing to do”. This is the danger – the market men will be allowed to ruin everything by hyping up the product still further, hiking up the prices of the extremely ordinary and run of the mill big name blends and the small producers will remain left behind; still further behind in fact because super-profits will rule and the producers will be paid even less for their products.

    For me the Hap Hop Hype is counter-productive, it will alienate the connoisseur who may snobbishly consider that he would prefer not to be thought of as trying to be fashionable and would want to be as far as possible away from the Hop Hippers, and in a few years time the bubble that these Huppers have caused will have burst leaving the market is terminal decline…

    Very few are seriously trying to attract genuine interest into the fabulously diverse world of taste that is available within cognac. The reason is quite simple, because the big money is not where the taste is – the big money is where the lack of taste is and there is no incentive for the big money boys to make products which are interesting and diverse – because they can’t – they don’t have the raw materials.

    I urge those who are interested in cognac to seek our the small producers’ products – the Single Estate Cognacs – and experience the real taste and diversity that cognac has to offer. And when you have found it don’t let anyone who wants to put ice in the glass anywhere near it!

  2. Avatar
    Matthias Weiss

    I went to a nice restaurant in Singapore and ordered an XO cognac for dessert. The waitress asked me, “How would you like it served?” — I looked at her, and, with straight face, responded, “In a glass!”

    I really had no idea what she was asking! Of course she cracked up laughing, but proceeded to explain what she meant: “On the rocks? With lime?”

    And there I was thinking that only Singaporeans like their cognac slightly chilled — not entirely inconceivable when it’s 85 degrees and 80% humidity around midnight.

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