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Sipping on the much heard of Cognac liqueur, I started to ponder about the creation of this complex liqueur. The champagne is quintessentially and exclusively French, the taste of which one can only develop eventually. So, what really goes into a bottle of luxury cognac and why the immense hype around it?
The brown spirit undergoes a complicated aging process that involves blending and fermenting in new and used French Oak Barrels. The wood being the major taste influencer, gives it lots of tannins and flavour. Therefore, it is initially brewed in new barrels, and then transferred to the old ones so that the wood doesn’t take over—and that’s not all, the alcohol is gradually reduced from its original 70% ABV to 40%, and then finally bottled.
Apart from the barrel transfer, the liquor is distilled at many stages, by transferring it to dry cellars and humid cellars periodically. For longer aged XO Cognac, the preferred barrels are the toasted ones—for the toasted effects to keep contributing to the taste. After this comes the filtration process.
The enigmatic vintage is chill filtrated for 7 days at -7 degrees before running it through the basic filter. Yes, it’s that intricate. Experts say that even though the components of Cognac are not the same in different distillers, the same taste profile must be duplicated for the adequate success of it, because consumers have begun to understand, distinguish and recognize the taste of it.
The heart and soul of the Cognac lies in the grape. The secret to the perfect grape with the best aroma and acidity lies in the soil in which the vines grow. For the best results, grapes are picked from the highest-quality regions (or crus) which should be categorized by exceptionally chalky soil, that reflects light, and ripens the grapes to absolute flawlessness.
Little do the Cognac-lovers know that besides the century long process taken to develop their favourite alcohol, it also takes the expertise of a meticulous team of tasters and over 10 years of training in absolute silence. This means that it is the daily job of the tasting committee members to sit, sip and ruminate on some 50 different Cognacs.
All this combined makes the spirit a heritage of refined taste. Not only does the art of fermentation and selection matter, but the rituals and the rigor of precision makes the luxurious amber-colored blend the true “eaux de vie”— the water of life.
Image Credits: Wine Enthusiast
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