En route to Bordeaux, my tour included a stop into Cognac for an afternoon’s tour of the Hennessy factory – with tasting included.
Having never tried the drink before I thought if there’s anywhere to give it a go it might as well be at the source!
This area of France is famous for the product it exports of the same name- particularly with the Chinese market.
It was interesting to learn that more than 80% of the cognac produced is actually sold to China since its apparently not that popular with the French themselves.
Situated alongside a lovely river, the Hennessy factory tour is seriously impressive.
We literally got into a ferry outside the front door which took us 5 meters across the water to the other side where the cognac is stored – I think we were on board for maybe a minute!
No expense is spared and we had a fantastically detailed guide who took us through the high tech and visually interesting presentations they have set up for the groups who visit here.
We learned the difference between types of cognac (starting with VS or Very Special, VSOP or Very Superior Old Pale and XO or extra old) and that for a cognac to earn its name it must’ve been produced in this area of France, similar to how true champagne must be made in the Champagne region also.
The cellar part of the tour was probably most interesting since there were some barrels in there dating back to the late 1800s!
At the conclusion we of course were able to try a couple cognacs but I have to say the majority of us were not fans – it was far too strong for me!
Even with some water to dilute it (which is apparently OK for cheaper cognacs, never for the XO variety).
Since cognac is an alcohol which at its top quality can fetch thousands upon thousands of dollars it was definitely a cool experience to see the production of it firsthand and learn more about how it’s made.