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Cognac au Courant

Cognac doesn’t exactly have an image problem, any more than Sean Connery has an image problem. That said, it can be tough for ultraluxury brands of a certain age—241 years in the case of Hennessy—to seem au courant as blenders of brandies, while the other "brown goods" distillers of Scotland and Kentucky beat the trendy single-cask, single-vintage drum. But there are signs of fresh marketing-think. For example, everything about ABK6 (a new line by Francis Abécassis), from the squat, modern bottle to the beautiful young women who can be seen enjoying it on the company’s web site, says, "Not your father’s cognac." The VSOP version (minimum ten years in oak barrels; about $40) is a tangy, spicy but smooth spirit. Meanwhile, New York retailer Sherry-Lehmann is selling a single-cask, unblended cognac made by the house of Ragnaud-Sabourin ($50). It has the sort of hand-lettered label associated with rustic farmhouse armagnac, and indeed it has a pleasing armagnac bite to it. These cognacs are good—and could become hot.

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