Image: Martell

1) Cognac should be heated

In South Africa especially, a very big misconception is that cognac should be heated to enjoy it. However, cognac releases many more aromas at room temperature, and when I take my first sip of cognac, it is very apparent that I do not need to heat it up. When cognac is heated, the first nose becomes very harsh and, in my opinion, it is the result of the heat accentuating the alcohol. 

2) Cognac should be sipped neat 

Whisky and white spirits have been and still are well represented in the night life and cocktail scene. However, cognac has been one of the most popular of the spirits for quite a long time. Up until I visited the region of Cognac in France, I might have agreed with this misconception. This was dispelled though, when I stayed at the Chateau de Chanteloup — the House of Martell — and tasted one of the delicious bespoke cognacs. I realised that cognac is an expressive spirit, and can and should be enjoyed in cocktails, as this allows for the spirit to further accentuate its aromas, especially in the VSOP blend. 

3) Cognac is a man’s drink

When I’m conducting tastings, bar staff trainings, or when I’m spreading the Martell love, I often get asked by women if it is okay for them to drink cognac. There is a big misconception that women cannot drink cognac or whisky, or smoke cigars. Actually, when they drink a Martell Cognac, women are often amazed by the smoothness and the elegance of our cognacs. During our production process, we have the strong parti pris to exclusively distil clear wines, wines without the sediment. It gives you a richer, and smoother experience. Martell is the only great cognac house to exclusively distil the purest part of the wine. I always invite women to break this misguided social code. When Victor Hugo said “Cognac is the liquor of the gods”, I’m pretty sure it included the goddesses too. 

The House of Martell was founded in 1715 by 21-year-old French merchant, Jean Martell, at the height of the French art de vivre movement — a term coined by King Louis XIV, to celebrate a time in which gastronomy, tasting, and craftsmanship were all celebrated and enjoyed with style. As such, these became the three pillars of the Martell House — the oldest of the cognac houses. Martell still owns the family estate, the Chateau de Chanteloup, which is situated in Cherves Richemont in the heart of the Borderies.

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