Lots of guys enjoy a shot of Henn as their drink of choice for an evening out, but there are a select few serious enough about their ‘gnac to travel back to the source of their favorite imbibement – the Cognac region of France.
Here’s one thing I learned during a nine-day drink-and-dine tour of Cognac and several other towns in western France: Never, ever text a photo of your sumptuous lunch to your wife when she’s alone back home, working and taking care of your 8-year-old son.
To be fair to myself, it was work that took me to France last September: I was tinkering with a new book idea. Plus, my wife had recently cashed in more than a decade’s worth of communal credit card and frequent flier points to take her mom on a ritzy two-week tour of Italy. I figured I had some psychic currency to burn.
The town of Cognac is curiously overlooked by many tourists. Too bad, because it’s France at its most timeless. Pastoral and dotted with stone farmhouses, cognac country is renowned for snails, butter and fleur de sel (natural sea salt).
Of course, I wasn’t thinking much about those charms before I arrived. To be honest, I was there for the hooch. I planned to visit at least four of the top cognac distilleries — Hennessy, Courvoisier, Remy Martin and Martell — plus hit a few other celebrated spirits makers in the neighborhood, including Upper Normandy’s Benedictine and the Loire Valley’s Cointreau. Or, as I’d pitched it to my wife: I’d be taking a sort of Gallic version of a Scottish whiskey distillery tour, or maybe a Napa Valley winery crawl.
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