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Brandy & Cognac

Key Takeaways:
  • Is made from any fermented fruit juice (wine)

  • Sometimes aged in oak

The term "brandy" is derived from the Dutch word for "burnt wine", brandiwijn. Simply put, brandy is wine that has been distilled into a spirit and then aged in barrels. But, with centuries of human toil beside the still, brandy is a many-splendored thing. Brandy might be a very special old spirit, aged for decades in a place called Cognac, in western, coastal France. It might be a clear spirit often made from Muscat grapes in Peru near a seaside town called Pisco. It might be a clear distillate, called "eau de vie," made from raspberries, pears or cherries produced in Central and Western Europe.

  • Cognac: Western France; grape

  • Armagnac: Southwestern France; grape

  • Calvados: Northwestern France; apples with a few pears thrown in for good measure

  • Pisco: Peru & Chile; grape

  • Pierre Ferrand (Cognac)

  • Chateau Arton (Armagnac)

  • Château du Breuil (Calvados)

  • Barsol (Pisco)


Key Takeaways
  • Cognac is distilled from fermented Ugni Blanc grape juice

  • Must be produced in the Cognac region in France

  • Must be aged for at least two years

Cognac is a wine based brandy, distilled from Ugni Blanc grapes (there are very few other grape types grown in Cognac), twice distilled only in pot stills and aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of two years. Even more importantly, Cognac is the place where all these grapes must be grown and where this brandy must be aged.

Aging Categories
  • VS: Very Special or Three Star. Aged at least two years in French oak barrels

  • VSOP: Very Superior Old Pale or Five Star. Aged at least four years in French oak barrels

  • XO: Extra Old, Napoleon, Extra or Hors d'Age. Aged in French oak barrels for at least six years

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