This Christmas the big cognac houses will tell you in very general terms why you should buy their Christmas Cognac either for yourself, or as a gift. The differences in taste and price between one and another will not be significant. The attractive presentation of each cognac will, however, undoubtably attract millions of customers, but the question I would ask is:
“Do I want to buy an attractive looking presentation or, do I want to buy a cognac that is memorable for its taste and quality and provides great satisfaction when it is drunk?”
To answer this let’s look at the facts behind the production and ageing of blended and single estate cognacs. In order to meet production and sales objectives the large cognac houses blend hundreds of different, young cognacs, made by hundreds or even thousands of different producers. This produces generic blends referred to as VS, VSOP or XO where the highest quality is only required to have been in the barrel, ageing, for ten years. The youthfulness of these blended cognacs means that sugar syrup and caramel will have to be added to hide their fiery qualities.
Single estate cognacs, on the other hand, come from a single producer who ages his cognacs in his own cellar. They will often carry an indication of barrel age, which is likely to be significantly older than ten years and as a result, most will not contain any sugar syrup or caramel.
At Hermitage we take the selection of our cognacs further. We seek pure cognacs from the top cru, Grande Champagne, that have been aged for a minimum of ten years. Hermitage Cognacs are also carefully selected for their individual qualities, lack of fieriness (as this improves balance), and great taste. They don’t cost any more than the heavily blended VSOPs or XOs, but they are a little more difficult to find. Each one must meet our very high standards and may only come as a single batch of a few hundred bottles.
“So, will you buy your cognac this Christmas for the shape of the bottle or the bottle’s contents?”