What Is Cognac? All About the Beloved French Brandy

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Head connected changeable of a solid of cognac adjacent to an unfastened vessel of Martell cognac connected a marble surface.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe

Victor Hugo, celebrated French writer and nan writer of Les Miserables, described Cognac arsenic nan liquor of nan gods. This sentiment mightiness explicate why Cognac, nan beloved amber spirit, has been produced for centuries. Just for illustration wine, Cognac is simply a staple successful France and has a rich | history.

What is Cognac?

Cognac is simply a type of brandy, which is simply a liquor made from distilled wine. Cognac is distinctly named aft nan Cognac commune recovered successful nan Charente region of occidental France, wherever it is produced. Brandy is made from consequence juice, whereas Cognac is made only pinch grapes.

In nan United States, Cognac is synonymous pinch luxury and commonly associated pinch notable brands specified arsenic Hennessy, Remy-Martin, and Courvoisier. Contrary to really drinking Cognac is often portrayed successful American media, this twice-distilled vino is bully for much than conscionable quaffing successful an overstuffed leather armchair. It’s besides a cardinal constituent successful respective classical cocktails and cookware sauces.

What Is Cognac and Where Does It Come From?

Cognac is an AOC-controlled (short for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, referring to standards group for cultivation products for illustration vino and food made successful France) type of brandy named for nan commune of Cognac, France, and exclusively made successful nan French departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime. 

Cognac must beryllium distilled doubly from circumstantial grapes, including nan astir common, Ugni blanc. Before it whitethorn beryllium sold to nan public, Cognac must beryllium aged astatine slightest 2 years successful French oak barrels from Limousin aliases Tronçais.

What Is nan Difference Between Brandy and Cognac?

While brandy is simply a distilled tone made from immoderate consequence juice, Cognac must beryllium distilled from circumstantial grapes, utilizing specialized instrumentality and techniques. Cognac is simply a barrel-aged brandy made successful nan Cognac region of France. It is often, but not always, a blend of various eaux de vie, nan word for nan individual spirits, pre-blending. All Cognac is brandy, but not each brandy is Cognac.

What Does Cognac Taste Like?

Each Cognac brings thing unsocial to nan statement — a consequence of nan different grapes used, nan circumstantial barrel-aging process, and nan peculiar blend of eaux de vie; but successful general, Cognac is simply a smooth, somewhat saccharine tone pinch lukewarm notes of spice, tobacco, and toffee, pinch a hint of oak.

What Are nan Grades of Cognac?

  • V.S. (Very Special) — Designates a blend that has been barrel-aged for 2 years, nan minimum required to beryllium considered Cognac.
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) — A blend successful which nan youngest brandy has been barrel-aged for astatine slightest 4 years.
  • Napoléon — Cognac successful which nan youngest brandy has been barrel-aged for astatine slightest six years.
  • X.O. (Extra Old) — This Cognac’s youngest brandy has been aged for a minimum of 10 years.
  • X.X.O. (Extra Extra Old) — Cognac successful which nan youngest brandy has been barrel-aged for astatine slightest 14 years.
  • Hors d’Âge (Beyond Age) — Designates a high-quality Cognac that is beyond nan charismatic property standard (must beryllium adjacent to X.O.)

Save your fine, aged Cognac for sipping neat by a crackling fire. Younger Cognac, however, is fantabulous for mixing successful cocktails. It features prominently successful nan Sazerac, sidecar, and French 75. Try it successful your adjacent batch of eggnog for thing genuinely special. Cognac tin besides bring a delightful extent of spirit to cookware sauces, for illustration those for steak au poivre and lobster thermidor.