Monday, July 27, 2009

A guide to the famous cognac houses

We're spoilt for choice here when it comes to visiting the great cognac houses.

Hennessy, Martell, Courvoisier they all offer something different on their tours so here's a quick guide as to our personal favourites.

Let's start with Remy Martin as it's the first tour we did. They are based just outside cognac town centre and the highlight is a "little train" tour around the manicured grounds and through the cellars. Of course it finishes with a tasting (accompanied by some tasty little cakes) and the chance to splash out €1500 on a bottle of Louis XIII....which is the cognac that Bryan Brown & Tom Cruise immortalised in the film called Cocktail.

If you want to stay in cognac town centre try Hennessy who sell more than 40% of the worlds cognac. You can find them on the quayside and this means that during the tour you get a chance to go on their private launch and cross the river to view the cellars. They have just released a special edition of VS cognac to commemorate the inauguration of Barack Obama with a black label, gold lettering and "In honour of the 44th president" written on it.

Staying in the heart of the town centre you can visit the Otard chateau. Less well known than the others it has the prettiest setting and the family origins date back to 849. The chateau was built between the 13th and 16th centuries and was the birthplace of Fraancois 1er.

Finally how about visiting the stunning Courvoisier HQ set on the banks of the river charente in Jarnac (about 10 mins from Cognac). They use the familiar outline of Napoleon Bonaparte for their marketing claiming that it was his favourite drink (and who am I to argue). It's a truly beautiful setting for a cognac tour and Jarnac has plenty of other attractions to offer on a day out.

There are plenty of other big brand names to try out but these are the ones we like best. Try them all on a rainy day but just make sure that someone else is driving!

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