A less than full bottle of 'Chevalier' XO cognac and an empty glass.

I was working as a waiter in a cocktail bar when I first sampled an XO cognac. It was late 1991 and I was one of the casual staff helping out during the pre-Christmas rush at the bar at Cardiff’s Holiday Inn (which later became the Marriott). I had to wear black trousers and a white shirt with a name-tag pinned to it, and one of those little fake bow-ties with a velcro fastener. At the end of one particularly gruelling shift, the bar manager told us we could each have one free drink of whatever we wanted from their stock (champagnes excepted). I opted to try one of the costliest spirits on offer - a measure of whichever XO it was they had.

I enjoyed it very much: a rare luxury in what had been a dismal year. Since then, though, I’ve very seldom repeated the experience. Other drinks almost always seemed to offer more appealing value for money. At the local Aldi around the turn of the year, however, their Chevalier XO offering was on sale. Even then it was still the best part of £30 for a 50cl bottle, but with some Yuletide funds left unspent I bought a bottle. It really is remarkably delicious. Alas, I don’t have a dedicated brandy glass so make do with the one in the photo. Naturally one wonders which cognac this is: a well-known brand that likewise begins with ‘C’ and ends with ‘r’?