This column is dedicated to high rollers. I'm talking about people who drive Bentleys with license-plate holders that read: "My other car is a Ferrari." If you want to know what the lifestyle of the rich and famous tastes like, have a sip of one of these three fine brandies. If you've got someone on your holiday gift list who's already got the proverbial everything, these'll make him or her sit up and take note. But, it'll cost you.
Before cognac became a liquor-cabinet staple of the higher-ups, it was a region, part of the duchy of Aquitaine in the Middle Ages. When Eleanor of Aquitaine became Queen of England, the area's economy boomed. The English royalty loved their imported table wines from Cognac, and the town was given special royal protection under Francois I of France, who was born there. But cognac - the drink - as we know it today didn't exist until the 17th century when the crafty Dutch set up the first stills in Cognac to distill the local wine into brandewijin, or brandy.
Cognac has since become a symbol of the monied lifestyle, from Monte Carlo to Hong Kong. (Hong Kong is now the largest consumer of cognac, per capita, in the world.) One of these three bottles is sure to impress, if not overwhelm, someone on your gift list.