The Art of tasting Cognac


Awaken your senses…

La dégustation du CognacTasting a Cognac begins with choosing a glass that will let the Cognac eau-de-vie express its full personality.

The preferred choice is a “tulip” glass, whose shape has been studied and recommended by experts. The benefit of this type of glass is that it retains the aromas and reveals them with great delicacy throughout the tasting.

For the best tasting experience, make sure the Cognac is at room temperature.

Visual examination

This is the first contact with the Cognac and it is paramount: Fill the glass with about 1 fluid ounce of Cognac. Hold the glass by the foot so you can swirl the Cognac easily, slowly and gently.

Raise the glass to eye level, if possible against a white background, to examine its color and appearance.

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Still holding the foot, gently tilt the glass to examine its intensity, while admiring the brilliance of the surface of the spirit. Tilting the glass makes the Cognac “cry”, its tears running slowly down the side of the glass.

You can now describe the Cognac’s colour, clarity and viscosity…

  • Its clarity (quality of being clear, pure, transparent) can be characterised as crystalline, clear, dull, or cloudy.
  • Its viscosity (thickness of a liquid) can be described as watery, syrupy, or oily.

Cognac can display a multitude of different hues

Cognac can display a multitude of different hues depending on its age, the kind of oak used, etc

Les nuances du Cognac

On the nose

There are two ways of perceiving aromas: directly through the nose, or indirectly through the mouth (retro-olfaction).

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Smelling the Cognac is the most important stage of the tasting. It is a twostep process :

First nose : Without moving the glass, you can discern the highly volatile elements that are often extremely delicate and always fleeting. This is called the montant”.

Second nose : Swirl the glass very gently to aerate the Cognac. The contact with oxygen reveals its aromatic components.

Here you will encounter floral or fruity aromas such as linden flower, grapevine flower, dry vines, freshly crushed grapes, violets, vanilla… The specific shape of the tulip glass maximises the olfactory experience.

On the palate

It is on the tongue and the palate that Cognac reveals its full identity.

Take a sip and suck in a little air over the Cognac in your mouth.

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This brings the Cognac into contact with most of the taste receptors in the mouth. The ambient heat will also cause it to release aromatic vapors that will reach the olfactive bulb via the retronasal passage.

This is the moment when all the aspects of the spirit’s personality become apparent: is it round, mellow, smooth? Does it have finesse, delicacy, breed, rancio, balance…?


The tongue is a sensory organ that can detect sweet (on the tip of the tongue), salty (along the sides towards the back), sour (on the sides) and bitter (at the back).

Tasting is a tool used at all stages in the production of Cognac

While the enthusiast tastes Cognac for pleasure, professionals also use tasting as a tool in their craft.

L'Art de la dégustation - The Art of tasting - Die Kunst der Verkostung

In combination with analyses, it is the most reliable method for evaluating and offering consumers products of impeccable quality. Using this sensory examination, producers can control the different stages of distillation, follow the changes that take place during ageing, create the blends necessary to produce Cognac and, finally, evaluate the characteristics of the final product to be released.