When I speak of cognac, I bet it conjures the same image for 84.2% of you; old wealthy industrialist by the fireside with an oversized snifter, lounging in his overstuffed chair, smoking jacket on, stock ticker rolling in. Probably a bear skin rug. That, my friends, is what Jung referred to as the collective unconscious. Well, here I am folks, young and buried in debt, sitting by the woodstove with my normal sized snifter with the logo of my overpriced education. I’m wearing a shirt with revolutionary implications and trying to decipher the Greek shipping information of the lot of the vintage sunglasses I desperately hope to turn a profit on. It’s basically the same thing. The sentiment is the same at least; cognac is good, damned fine on a chill night by the ambience of a fire. The financial imagery is similar as well—the industrialist probably has a lot more to gain though—also probably didn’t buy his cognac because it was on sale though. What can I say, the buried in debt thing is true–which is why I need this whole “buying a bunch of NOS 1950s French sunglasses to make money,” thing really needs to pan out, otherwise it’s back to E&J for me. So, right, score of the night: Hennessy VS. I’m not going to go over the whole rating system of brandy again, we’re all on the internet, we can all read Wikipedia. But let us examine a secondary rating system, that’s right, I’m stuck on money. See, I think cognac actually has a pretty ingrained rating, at least on its lower end. Compare the V.S. Cognacs you see at your local: Courvoisier, Hennessy, Remy Martin being the most common. The prices ascend correspondingly about $4 per name and, interestingly enough, I think that the quality ascends similarly. Maybe that’s just how my tastes align, and to be honest I’m not doing a side by side because, well, given all you’ve already read do you think I could afford all three? Screw you, I could. It would just be detrimental to my personal liquidity. Right, back to the point. I got this Irish sounding French cognac on sale for some $26 I think (live free or die!) and you want to know how it tastes. Before I go into it, if you do hope to compare use the search function thingy and read my Courvoisier article, then come back. Better yet, finish this, then read that. Now, to indulge.
First off, let me state that with cognac, like with wine, I feel like there is a good deal of benefit to letting your pour sit a bit. A magic 15 minutes really, to oxygenate, really open up a bit. When you can smell it from 5 or so feet away, you’re probably good to go. Also like wine, and probably like the image in our collective unconscious, it’s a good idea to use a snifter or similar aroma focusing glass. Even doing the prick-like cognac swirl it good for that aroma. You smell it, dontcha? You’re drooling on the keyboard you bleeding prole! Right, so pretend you’ve done all that— now you’re ready to drink.
Oh, that luscious aroma. Well rounded with light caramel and effervescent vanilla—just a hint of the dry oak, which gives it a buttery chardonnay note and I get of hint of something that maybe of bit of citrus, grape must even?
The mouth does not belie the nose, with a supple entry of warm sweet entry with almost a touch of baking spice and a somewhat woody foundation. It’s soft and beautifully smooth, with not a touch of bitterness and a full finish that feels like a slick coat of honey from the tip of the tongue alllll the way down. Ahhhh, that feeling after a long day of exploiting the masses and insider trading… now I can finally loosen my ascot.
Perhaps I made a snap judgement before in stating that Hennessy is better than Courvoisier, not because it isn’t subjectively true to me, but because it can’t really be objectively proven—and mostly because it doesn’t matter. Lovely, affordable cognac is a thing of beauty, and at anywhere from $22-$32 you can probably afford to buy any number of lovely cognacs to take you through your fall evening—regardless of whether or not you’re a short sale millionaire, a waitress, or a disability claims case manager…and possible vintage sunglass mogul.