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Hine Cognac

Hine Cognac dates back as far as 1791, when a young Thomas Hine left his native Dorset to learn the secrets of how Cognac was made. Inspired by his father’s love of the tipple, he timed his intrepid adventure hilariously poorly and found himself fleeing the French Revolution, before eventually being imprisoned for several months at the Château de Jarnac. That’s not actually that funny, to be honest.

Fortune favours the bold, however, and not only did Hine find himself imprisoned in the middle of Cognac country, in an established Cognac house, he also found himself in the good company of Françoise-Elisabeth, the daughter of his hosts. He went on to marry her (downright cheeky, if you ask me), but he assumed the family business from her father and gave it his own name in 1817.

Since that dramatic arrival to the Château de Jarnac estate, Thomas Hine & Co has seen six generations of the Hine family succeed one another as head of the company. Yet, its greatest honour was surely bestowed in 1962, when the House of Hine was awarded a Royal Warrant by Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II. To this day Hine remains the only official supplier of Cognac to the British monarchy.

Hine has long made an individual Cognac through a careful, traditional distillation process, complemented by rigorous grape selection and extended ageing in seasoned oak barrels. The pairing of the native ugni blanc (trebbiano) grapes, teaming with exclusive flavours produced by the chalk and limestone soil, with Hine’s two trusted crus, the Grande Champagne and the Petite Champagne, help create a particular style and distinct mode of expression.

The maturation of Hine Cognac also benefits from the insistence to preserve this local, familiar approach. By housing its cellar two metres below the level of the close River Charente, Hine allows high humidity to naturally engineer the conditions that lend the aging process of this Cognac to develop greater complexity and structure. With rich aromas, pronounced oak and the highly sought ‘rancio’ characteristic, Hine makes Cognac reminiscent of the early incarnations so romantically cherished in France.

As a singular distiller of Cognac, Hine doesn’t simply rely on one method, however, and is known to employ an additional trademark strategy; aging vintage casks in cellars in Bristol, England. This alternative maturation process produces what is known as ‘early-landed’ Cognacs. A relatively constant, low temperature is pitted against the high humidity to induce early landed editions that will posses more delicate and light oak and fruit notes. The character is rounded by an aroma that speaks more to fresh flowers and orange peel - evocative of the traditional Cognac.

To have created and sustained such a legacy is ultimately the result of Hine committing themselves to the seemingly simple idea that a great Cognac is above all a great white wine. The emphasis on focusing on smaller quantity for a higher standard of quality is a Hine trademark that has served them, and their enthusiasts, very well. I defy you not to try one.

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