Cognac John Exshaw
Grande Champagne, Très Rare, No.1 (oc)
Provenance: Sotheby's, 9/15/1999
Renowned throughout the world, the production of Cognac has been regulated by its very own AOC since 1909. Only liqueurs from eaux-de-vie made from crus from the controlled appellation area of Cognac can be labelled as such. This liqueur must be distilled and aged on-site in compliance with authorised techniques: double distillation in a copper Charentais still, ageing in oak barrels for a set minimum ageing period.
A good Cognac is subjected to a complex manufacturing process. It is never made from the eau-de-vie of a single cru, but from a `marriage' of eaux-de-vie that vary in age and cru - some as old as a hundred. To establish the age of a Cognac, only the number of years spent in oak casks or barrels are taken into account. As soon as an eau-de-vie is decanted into a glass recipient, it ceases to age. The longer it is left to age, the more a Cognac gains in complexity, fragrance, aromas and taste (spiced, pepper and cinnamon flavours).
Please note that only Cognacs made exclusively from Petite and Grande Champagne (50% minimum) can use the "Fine Champagne" appellation.
Exshaw was founded in 1805 by John Exshaw, who bought young cognac and let this age in France before he was exporting to England - contrary to the custom of that time. British traders left their cognacs usually age in London. His son Thomas-Henri continued the business and the cognac exported to various countries in which England held sway. The company acquired much prestige and was well spoken of in the first half of the 20th century. After World War II, however, it lost much of its market and began to quail. In 1975, Otard bought the company.