To find Cognac go North on A10 from Bordeaux then east on N141. The town of Cognac with a population around 20,000 is on the river Charente in the Charente Department of Aquitaine. Take a deep breath of the sweet and heady scent - you have found the world’s centre for the heavenly elixir of Cognac! The Dutch first discovered cognac in France and called it "brandewijn" or burnt brandy.  Only brandy from Cognac made under strictly defined regulations can be called Cognac.

On the pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostella, the old town area of Cognac takes you back to medieval times as you meander the cobbled streets from the Tours Saint-Jacques along the Charente River. Walk up towards the Saint-Léger church and look for the sculptures of the salamander, the symbol of King François the First and gargoyles among the richly decorated facades of the buildings. Along the river the blackened stone walls of the great chai (storage warehouses) let you know that the black lichen or mould is thriving on the delicious fumes of hundreds of oak casks of maturing cognac.

Touring the vineyards of Cognac, particularly in the Grande Champagne area, you’ll enjoy traditional distilleries, barrel factories and Romanesque churches and of course fantastic tastings of lesser known labels. But this is also your opportunity to sample the great houses of Hennessy, Martell, Otard, Camus, Remy Martin and Courvoisier and at the same time check out some new innovations on the cognac scene such as Conjure.

Cognac and region have an excellent selection of hotels, guest houses, and Bed and Breakfast to suit every budget. Expect great restaurants in this area to match the best selection of cognac you’ve ever tasted!  

Cognac is doubly distilled white wine made only in the Cognac area for the AOC designation. After distillation it is aged in oak barrels for four to forty years and then bottled. The skill is in the blending. All Cognacs are made by blending "Eau de Vie" which can be made from grapes of different locations and different vintages. However, the best Cognacs typically use grapes from one area of Cognac, Champagne (Grande and Petite Champagne grapes).

VSOP – Cognacs are aged at least 5 years.

The biggest break for Cognac came via the Dutch. They dominated international trade and particularly the wine and spirit trade even over Britain in the mid 17th century and gave this brandywine to their sailors. The Dutch brought back early Cognac to distil it first in Holland and then installed their own stills in the Cognac region. Later in the 17th Century the connoisseurs of the Brits, always sharp to recognize a good thing, became a destination market for what they called "Coniac" or "Coniak".

In the 18th century Cognac flourished and the former smuggler from the Channel Islands turned entrepreneur, Jean Martell, and ex French army officer, the Irishman Richard Hennessy, set up shop emerging as dominant forces during the French revolution. The UK continued to be well connected with Cognac through such names as Otard, a Scot who took over the 15-16th century Chateau de Cognac as his brandy based business in 1795.