Words: Lucy Sarah O’Connell | Images: Supplied

As a spirit, cognac has been largely overlooked in South Africa, but it’s seeing increasing popularity, and nobody knows this better than Martell Cognac brand ambassador Jessica Witzel. A German by birth, Jessica recently moved to South Africa and is a fiercely passionate woman taking on her male-dominated sphere and sharing her infectious love for cognac. Martell Cognac is available at all leading bottle stores across South Africa. We chat with Jessica to find out more:

So, what do you love about cognac?

In France, we say cognac is the world’s most luscious spirit, and one of the main reasons why this is true, is because while other spirits are made from raw ingredients like grain (which can be harvested and stored for months), cognac’s raw ingredient is the grape – fresh, vibrant, alive, and delicate.

Something South Africans don’t know about cognac is…

The difference between cognac and brandy is not always quite clear. What we can say is that “all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac”. The Cognac region in France is the only area in the world where a brandy can be made and then earn the right to be called cognac. The AOC organisation strictly controls the making of cognac. Therefore, when you’re buying cognac, you’re sure to receive impeccable quality.

How should we be drinking cognac this summer?

Cognac is no longer just the old man’s drink… That myth is gradually breaking! Originally, cognac demonstrated a clear affinity for the fall and winter months, but it’s really become more of a year-round drink these days. South Africans are fond of the younger cognac category, so I recommend drinking very special cognacs (young cognacs) in cocktails and long drinks this summer. Thanks to its fruitiness, cognac goes extremely well in fruity cocktails.

Sazerac 2.0:

  • Pour 50ml of Martell VSSD in a tumbler glass with ice cubes
  • Add 20ml of passion fruit juice (pure fruit juice or puree)
  • Add a dash of fresh lemon juice and a dash of Angostura bitters
  • Top it up with ginger ale
  • Garnish with a lemon slice
  • Enjoy!

Martell Cognac
martell.com/en-za