Wine culled from the chalky soil of France’s Cognac region has a tendency to be acidic, thin and unpalatable. This might have doomed the terroir to gastronomic obscurity, had the region’s vintners not been fortunate enough to discover that this wine was excellent for distilling. It so exemplified this ability, in fact, that the region’s brandy varietals gradually assumed the name of their otherwise-maligned home and Cognac became a beverage of choice the world over. Produced from the combination of various white wines (known as “eaux de vie”), Cognacs are aged to maturity in barrels before bottling and distribution. In the course of its centuries-long life Cognac has been considered a drink for the poor, an exclusive property of upscale gentlemen’s clubs and a symbol of hip-hop excess. At present, Cognac distillers draw from all facets of this varied past to create some of the finest tasting and most exclusive liquors on the planet.