I visited the Hennessy distillery in Cognac, France, and an expert told me the best way to drink the spirit is no longer in the traditional glass

cognac hennessyKatie Warren/Business Insider

  • The best way to drink Cognac is no longer from the traditional "balloon" glass.
  • According to a Cognac expert and tour guide at the Hennessy distillery in France, the best glass is actually a "tulip" glass because it allows the aroma to get to your nose.
  • Experts used to suggest balloon-shaped glasses because it was thought that the warmth from the drinker's hand enhanced the taste of Cognac, but now they say it can dull the complex aromas of the spirit.
  • If you're drinking Cognac on the rocks, however, you should use a tumbler glass.

The best way to drink Cognac is no longer from the traditional balloon-shaped glass, but rather a tulip-shaped glass, according to a Cognac expert I talked to at the Hennessy distillery in France.

On a recent trip to France, I made a 24-hour stop in Cognac, a small town about a five-hour drive from Paris that's famous for being the birthplace of the spirit. Hennessy, one of the major Cognac houses, was founded in 1765 and offers guided tours and tastings at its headquarters on the banks of the Charente River. It was on one of these tours that I met Gwendoline Poirier, a Cognac expert and tour guide at Hennessy, who walked us through how Cognac is made and the best way to drink it.

With a tulip glass, "you can really enjoy the color thanks to the shape and for the aroma to get to your nose," Poirier told me as we tasted different types of Cognac.

Cognac, which is made from grapes, is one of the oldest spirits in the world. The only thing that differentiates it from Brandy is that Cognac must be made in the Cognac region of France, as Business Insider's Alison Millington previously reported.

hennessy cognacKatie Warren/Business Insider

With the traditional balloon glass, "the goal was to heat your Cognac," Poirier said. "Today, it's not something we are advising anymore because generally when you're heating your Cognac, you will feel the alcohol more and the aromas less."

Read more: This is the difference between Cognac and brandy, and 6 other things you didn't know about the grape-based drink

cognac balloon glassSergei Malgavko\TASS via Getty Images

But you shouldn't feel limited to only drinking Cognac neat.

"You can taste it neat, on the rocks, in long drinks, and cocktails," Poirier said.

In fact, Cognac producers such as Hennessy are encouraging people to drink the spirit in cocktails to make it seem more trendy and accessible, she said. Poirier noted that if you're drinking Cognac with ice, the best glass to use is a tumbler.

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