Courvoisier is the fourth largest supplier of cognac to the US, and their US VS Cognac sales represents 60% that business. With so much of their product going to the entry level and new consumers, Courvoisier is in a unique position to help reshape cognac’s image in America. Acutely aware of some of the stereotypes surrounding the category, namely that it’s only an upscale product that needs to be consumed neat at the end of the meal, Courvoisier is actively working to redefine the way people perceive and consume cognac.
Courvoisier is coming about this from a number of different angles. To try to make cognac more approachable to aged rum and whiskey drinkers, Courvoisier has introduced the Courvoisier Connoisseur Collection with 12 year and 21 Year blends. Many non-cognac drinkers aren’t aware of how cognac is made and blended, and to address this Courvoisier has drawn on single malt scotch paradigms for this line of cognac. The 12 year is 80% Borderies and has a nice crisp, light, and spicy aroma and flavor that reminds us of fresh sweet sliced ginger. It’s less floral than some of Courvoisier’s other offerings. By releasing a cognac that is mostly Borderies, Courvoisier illustrates the different flavor profiles you can get from grapes grown in the different areas of the region. In addition to their 12 year blend, Courvoisier has a 21 year blend with grapes primarily from Grande Champagne. This blend has more floral qualities but is backed with some nice bold flavors while still maintaining some very nice smoothness.
In addition, Courvoisier has brought a product that it had targeted initially to Asian marketa to the US. The Courvoisier Exclusif , a VSOP cognac blend contains cognacs from four of the main regions (Fin Bois, Grand Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Borderies). This cognac is lighter and spicier, with notes of ginger cookie, prune, and coffee bean. Courvoisier Exclusif is designed to stand up well to dilution so that means that it does well in cocktails or over ice.
Courvoisier is also trying to reach out to prospective cognac drinkers with their new program called Le Nez de Cognac (which translates into The Nose of Cognac). By focusing on the aromas that are present in their cognac line, they’re hoping to woo more wine drinkers and start to get people thinking of cognac using some of the similar tools that they use to approach wine.
While wooing new cognac drinkers, Courvoisier hasn’t forgotten about its high-end base, and with Initiale Extra they have captured the essence of what a great sipping cognac can be. With a mix of Grande Champagne and Borderies varietals, the Initiale features cognac that’s 50 years old . This is an immensely complex cognac that’s floral and sweet while still having a dark, deep woodsy element to it. The fruit here is more old port than raisin or prune, along with mint, coffee, vanilla, and licorice. It has an intensely long finish that will leave you contemplating over the cognac you just sipped.
Cognac remains as the best category of spirits that most people aren’t yet drinking, and it’s great to see Courvoisier continue to work to educate people, expand their offerings, and help reinvigorate a fantastic spirit.
Here are some photos from our trip to Courvoisier:
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