Article from GQ:
If you want a more traditional cognac, the sort of drink you can reach for to accompany a soul-bearing after-dinner conversation, then a good place to start is with a Hennessy XO. This is a strong, smoky drink with the classic cognac taste. If you’re looking for something more niche, then Delamain produce a true wine drinkers’ cognac. Aged only in barrels which have already been used to produce cognac many times in the past, the drink retains a fruity wine taste even as it ages to become an XO. Our personal favourite of the smaller distillers is the peerless Pierre Ferrand. If you want to really impress a cognac drinker, produce a bottle of Cognac Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges.
Once you’ve chosen your cognac, the only remaining question is how to drink it. Traditionally cognac should be savoured slowly, allowing time to enjoy the aroma, but as with somuch in life if you’re looking for something more adventurous then follow Ernest Hemingway’s advice.
In his book, To Have And Have Another, cocktail historian Philip Greene uncovered a letter to the great writer from a friend detailing his preferred cognac drinking method: “Take a large mouthful, but don’t swallow it now. Swish it around in your mouth half a minute or so. Hold it. Now exhale through your nose- completely deflate your lungs. That’s right. Then swallow the cognac to get it out of the way. Open your mouth. Quickly! Inhale as deeply as you can.”
They called this technique “Carburetion”, based on the science of an engine’s carburettor, and you’d imagine it must have raised just as many eyebrows in 1930s Havana as it did when we tried it in the sedate town of Cognac. However you drink it, if it’s good enough for Hemingway, Churchill and Snoop Dogg, then it’s got to be worth reaching for a cognac the next time you finish a moveable feast.
GQ travelled to Cognac with the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).