Originally intended to take place at Glaziers Hall near London Bridge, the Cognac Show has moved online, so you can still get a piece of the action, but from the comfort of your own home…
The first thing to know about cognac is… forget everything that you think you know about cognac.
This premium French spirit has got itself a rep as an old-school tipple – more likely found in the glasses of aged drinkers in gentlemen’s clubs than beautiful people in trendy bars, but this is a drink that’s full of surprises, and it’s a lot more versatile than you’d think.
It’s also a spirit with stories to tell, and if you know what you’re looking out for, you can taste them in every sip.
Visit the Cognac region and you’ll find handsome houses with faded shutters, wild flowers poking out of the cracks on sleepy cobbled streets, and lots and LOTS of vineyards. And it’s these vineyards that are at the heart of this storied spirit.
Farmers and cognac producers work closely together to ensure that what’s in the bottle is a reflection of the environment in which the grapes have grown – otherwise known as the terroirs.
This means that every drop of cognac is defined not just by the soil, but the air and the weather, as well as a strictly managed distillation and ageing processes (a double distillation and minimum two-year ageing in oak barrels) which has remained the same for hundreds of years.
‘Every drop of cognac is defined not just by the soil, but the air and the weather’
Thanks to these variables, the variety of cognacs produced is wide, and from the heritage bottles that cost tens of thousands of pounds to the entry-point cognacs that provide a good starting point for novices and the bottles created to form the base of killer cocktails, there’s a style that will suit most drinkers.
If you’re not sure where to start, this weekend’s virtual Cognac Show is a good place to begin.
Originally intended to take place at Glaziers Hall, the show has moved online, so you can still get a piece of the action, but from the comfort of your own home.
All you need to do is choose your preferred session, purchase a tasting kit from show organisers The Whisky Exchange, and prepare to swot up on this prestigious spirit.
Sets will include cognacs from a wide range of houses that would otherwise have been exhibiting, from the famous Rémy Martin and Courvoisier, to the small, family-run Vallein Tercinier, and will retail at £24.95.
The sessions are set to run as follows:
Friday 24 April, 5.30pm: Cognac 101 with Dawn Davies MW
Let Master of Wine Dawn Davies, head buyer at The Whisky Exchange, guide you through the styles and categories of France’s most famous spirit, learning about how it’s made and what you should be looking for in a bottle.
Friday 24 April, 6.30pm: Cocktail masterclass with Guillaume Le Dorner, Bar Luciole
Previously scheduled to showcase his Cognac cocktail-creating skills live at the show, Guillaume Le Dorner, co-founder of Cognac bar Luciole on the Charente River in Cognac, France, will be sharing the secrets of some of his favourite classic Cognac cocktails – the Sidecar, the Spitfire and the Cognac Old Fashioned. Join him to shake and stir a drink or two!
Saturday 25 April, 5,30pm: The Many Faces of Cognac with Dawn Davies MW
Cognac is a drink with many different styles, covering a huge range of character and flavour. Let Dawn Davies Master of Wine demystify its complexities, and lead you on a sensory journey through the diversity of France’s national spirit.
Saturday 25 April, 6.30pm: Calvados 101 with Dawn Davies MW
The guest spirit at this year’s Cognac Show is Calvados, Normandy’s hidden gem. Join Dawn Davies Master of Wine for a dive into this fruity spirit, understanding the styles, categories and flavours that combine to produce this underappreciated and misunderstood spirit, from orchard to glass.
There will also be ‘drop in sessions’ on social media from some of the brands who would have been at the show, talking about Cognac, the rise of their brands and plans for the future.
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