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6 Things You didn't Know About Cognac

Oh, Le Cognac, the most eminent of brandies! We put together six facts about it that will raise your eyebrows and give you trivial ammunition for the next pub crawl.

1. Napoleon loved Cognac

Napoleon / painting by Jacques Louis David

Actually it was said that he wanted Cognac rations for his artillery and later brought barrels of it with him into exile on St. Helena. That’s all legend.

We know for sure that Napoleon III liked Courvoisier enough to designate it the “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court,” an association that Courvoisier still makes much out of with a Cognac that carries the Napoleon name. Courvoisier even trademarks the association as “the Napoleon device and Le Cognac de Napoleon are registered trademarks of Courvoisier".

2. James Bond loved Cognac

It’s his first drink in the first written account of the Bond saga in Casino Royale in the form of an Americano cocktail. Once the cinematic adaptations took off Cognac followed with a notable drinking scene in Goldfinger when the Sean Connery incarnation of Bond famously rattles off “I’d say it was a 30 year old finé indifferently blended Sir,……..with an overdose of Bon Bois.”

Later in Diamonds are Forever Bond, still played by Sean Connery at this stage, uses a bottle of Courvoisier to ignite an opponent. Much later in the series where buff Daniel Craig takes over, M as played by Judi Dench shares a glass of Courvoisier with Gareth Mallory played by Ralph Fiennes.

3. It’s burnt wine

Photo: Flickr - lattefarsan

Cognac is a Brandy and Brandy comes from the Dutch word brandewijn which is a pretty succinct description of the traditional way of making brandy. You distill wine aka heating or burning it up in a still till the concentrated alcohol emerges…

4. It takes a lot of wine to make a Cognac

When distilled, 10 liters of white wine = 1 liter of Cognac!

Photo: Flickr - tarlant

5. People go crazy for it!

A bottle of Croizet Cognac Cuvee Leonie 1858 sold for $156,760 in a 2011 auction.
Croizet, the most expensivecognac ever sold / Photo: Croizet

6. You can’t find it in France

Photo: Flickr / gnusamActually, you can, it’s just really hard to find because most Cognac is exported to Asia and the United States.

Some people even credit prominent mentions of Cognac, especially Hennessy which is currently endorsed by NAS, by hip hop stars for launching its global prosperity.