Oh, those wacky, laugh-a-minute French. What with their Jerry Lewis Fan Clubs, socially-constipated mimes, Charlie Hebdo (Mad Magazine for Islamophobes) and Les Tontons Flingueurs quoting, it’s a wonder they have any time to lose wars.
But, giving the French space to be French in a world that has passed them by economically, artistically and philosophically is one thing; it’s the magnanimous and condescendingly American thing to do.
Allowing them to dis good ol’ Kentucky bourbon is quite another.
‘10 Reasons why Cognac is Better than Whiskey’.
And I shall now, like a surgical strike from an Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor on a stealth mission, terminate the article with extreme prejudice.
- Cognac is the most complex spirit in the world to make. It takes the longest time to produce.
Cognac, as we all know but don’t care, is brandy that comes from a specific area in the French Départements of Charente and Charente-Maritime. Many boring laws (grape variety, etc.) are associated with Cognac, but as far as the actual production, only two really apply to the ‘complexity’ of the makeage: The fermented juice must be distilled twice in alembic pot stills and the resulting eau de vie aged in oak for a minimum of two years.
So let’s look at single-malt Scotch whisky (in contrast): Although it is also distilled twice in pot stills, the law requires all malt Scotch to be aged for a minimum of three years in oak casks.
Winner, Complexity Level: Whisky.
- Cognac is made of grapes, whisky is made of grains. Therefore Cognac can develop a variety of fruitful aromas, which whisky cannot.
‘Cannot’ is such a final-sounding word, isn’t it, French people? Let’s gander at some verbatim Bourbon tasting notes from the excellent Bourbon of the Day blog:
Angel’s Envy Cask-Strength: The finish is long and pleasant, and strangely reminiscent of blackberries.
Kentucky Tavern Straight: What is somewhat notable is the fruit in the finish: really fresh pear apricot and cherry.
And now, let’s peruse some descriptatory verbiage by the Cognac cognoscenti at the mediocre Cognac Expert blog.
Conjure Cognac: Mahogany, with a nose of oak, cocoa, hazelnut spice and leather.
Paul Beau Hors d’Age, Tres Vieille Grande Champagne: Entry is fully integrated, resiny/woody and dry; midpalate is peppery, meaty, charred, maple-like and piney.
Winner, Developing a variety of fruitful aromas: Bourbon.
- Cognac is French. The French know how to make good food. They also know how to make great wine, everyone knows that. So anything that derives from wine AND originates from France—as Cognac does—must be the best.
The French eat garden slugs in melted, coagulated fatty acids. The French eat fungus that smells to female pigs like boar testicles and California beat the chaussettes off these beret-wearing fools in Paris Wine Tasting of 1976.
America, on the other hand, is the home of hedonistically glorious grits ‘n’ gravy, deep-fried Snickers bars, truck stop meat loaf, Pringles, Manwiches and Velveeta Cheese melted on stuff. Our wine was rated better at the Judgment of Paris, and as far as us Americans are concerned, that is the end of the story.
Winner, Good food and wine: America, home of American whiskey.
- Cognac-making underlies extremely strict regulations. For example, Cognac can only be produced in the region of Cognac, while whiskey can be produced anywhere in the world.
So bleepin’ what? What’s wrong with the rest of the world, you provincial twerps? Hasn’t Bruno Mars assured you that there are really beautiful babes from everywhere, even Mars, even places we would not associate with hot chicks, like Romania or the Canary Islands or Omaha? You know what Cognac has? A bunch of stumpy, dumpy chain-smoking peasantettes who wear overalls and big rubber boots.
You know what Bourbon country has? Elly May Clampett and Daisy Duke.
Winner, Hot Chicks: Bourbon.
- Rap. Cognac has Jay-Z, Ludacris, Snoop Dogg and many other rappers ‘bigging up’ the drink – in their music and their personal life. Whiskey does not have such cool ambassadors.
Oh, please. How lame can you get? Snoop Dogg cool? Dude looks like a skeleton wrapped in electric tape with pig tails. Here’s a sample of how the atrophied brains of Cognac’s ambassadors work:
Jay-Z: “You shoot my dog, I’ma kill your cat.”
Ludacris: “Read your whore-o-scope and eat your whore d’oeuvres.”
Snoop Dogg: “Bikinis, zucchinis, martinis, no weenies.”
By contrast, let’s take let’s listen in on some of whiskey’s ambassadors:
Errol Flynn: “I like my whiskey old and my women young.”
Raymond Chandler: “There is no bad whiskey. There are only some whiskeys that aren’t as good as others.”
Humphrey Bogart: “I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.”
Winner, Cool ambassadors: Whiskey.
- Cognac is fashionable; a color in fashion is actually named after it: “Have you seen those beautiful cognac-colored boots of the fall collection?”
Frankly, I have never heard ‘cognac’ used as a boot color, but if it was, I would presume it might fall somewhere between Fecal Fulvous and Septic Sienna. As in, “Have you seen all those smart-looking Sturmabteilung marching through Paris in their beautiful cognac-colored shirts?”
Winner, Least offensive fashion statement: Whiskey
- Cognac is the oldest and most traditional cocktail ingredient: Long before Whisky, Brandy was used in cocktails and long drinks.
Of course, other than the fact that Cognac-heads are fond of saying ‘All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac’, the history is simply wrong. The first use of the word ‘cocktail’ appeared in the May 13, 1806, edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository under the following definition: ‘Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling…’
1862’s ‘The Bon Vivant’s Companion’ by Jerry Thomas, the first book of drink recipes, contains ten ‘cocktail’ recipes, of which four contain brandy and four whiskey.
So, this one is a tie.
- Cognac gives you no headache. It is very rare to get a headache after drinking Cognac.
Hang on, hangover. # 8 contains two sentences which are directly contradictory. If Cognac ‘gives you no headache’, then how does it follow, in the very next grammatically-linked linguistic unit, that Cognac gives you headaches ‘on rare occasions’? Trying to wrap my headache around that dichotomy is giving me a migraine.
Meanwhile, according to ‘11 Alcoholic Drinks, Ranked By Hangover Severity’ by the highly-trained alcoholic writer Sam Greenspan, ‘Whiskey’ ranks number five, while coming in at an undisputed #1?
“Brandy – The rest of the drinks on this list almost give you hangovers as bad as brandy… but with brandy, ‘almost’ doesn’t count.”
Winner, Lesser hangover: Whiskey
- Cognac has much better story telling: For example, the Great French Emperor Napoléon used to order barrels of fine Cognac to the island of St Helena.
But still not as good as John Entwistle’s song about an insane man conversing with an imaginary companion: “Whiskey man’s my friend; He’s with me nearly all the time; He always joins me when I drink; And we get on just fine.”
Or ZZ Top shrieking through those whiskey-straining whiskers, “I should have known better than to fool with a whiskey’n mama.”
Or Alice Cooper’s ‘Lace and Whiskey’.
Or, and so on…
Winner, Best Stories: Whiskey
- Cognac is a region, a town, AND a spirit. That is indeed very hard to beat.
And a town: 38° 9′ 6″ N, 91° 14′ 51″ W 38.151667, -91.2475
And the best goddamn spirit from here to Paris. Paris, Kentucky, that is (the seat of Bourbon County) or, for that matter any other city who stole their name in order to reflect in the glory that is rural Bluegrass banjo and Beam country.
Winner, Supercluster, Milky Way Galactic Arm, Solar System, Earth, Region, Town and Spirit: