For more than three centuries cognac has been recognised as the finest of all spirits distilled from grapes. It is incomparable in its sheer depth and intensity of flavour, its fruitiness, warmth and complexity and both its richness and subtlety of bouquet. Indeed cognac is the king of all brandies and originates from around the sixteenth century when farmers grew grapes for wines which were shipped along the Charente River in France to the port of La Rochelle, where they were bartered for goods brought in by English, Irish and Dutch traders. Often the weak and acidic wines would become rancid and traders learnt to reduce them by boiling them in pot stills. The strong wines were stored in oak casks which enhanced their flavour and gave them colour, they called them Cognac from around the town of that name in the centre of the Charente region.
Today there are around five thousand producers of the noble spirit, most making it for the big houses such as Hennessey Martell, Courvoisier and Remy Martin who blend them for their generic brands. Many of these old cognac families have been distilling their wines for generations developing the knowledge passed down from their forefathers and perfecting the skills of distillation and ageing. Some of the very oldest cognacs may have lived in their barrels or glass demijohns in cellars for hundreds of years and have today become priceless nectars of increasing rarity and value. Hermitage Cognacs are from individual single estate distillers, all of whom have aged their cognacs naturally and without the addition of additives. They are the very quintessence of purity and luxury. They are the king of all cognacs.
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