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What is it?
It is a variety of brandy named after the commune of Cognac, France. It is produced in the surrounding wine-growing region in the departments of Charente and Charente–Maritime.
Production falls under French appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation, with production methods and naming required to meet certain legal requirements. Among the specified grapes, Ugni blanc, known locally as Saint-Émilion, is most widely used.
The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. It matures in the same way as whiskies and wines barrel age, and most cognacs spend considerably longer “on the wood” than the minimum legal requirement.
There are a few potential benefits of drinking it in moderate amounts, including protection against flu and reducing the risk of heart conditions.
Improved heart health and lower
Clear up certain skin conditions and prevent wrinkles
Relieve a sore throat
Lower the risk of gallstones
Protect againstand upper
These are not research-backed health benefits. Cognac is sipped slowly, more for an experience than as a health tonic. Alcoholism and binge drinking is detrimental to overall health and can undo any possible good things that moderate amounts can impart.
Cognac vs Whiskey vs Armagnac
It is distilled twice in copper stills, while Armagnac is distilled once in a column still, similar to bourbon.
Cognac and Armagnac use most of the same grapes, with one or two additional varieties for Armagnac.
Whiskey is produced either with a grain or malted barley, while the other two are produced with grapes.
The Dutch, not the French, invented it. In the 17th century, merchants from Holland brought French wine home for distillation—and soon found that wine from the region produced a smoother spirit than that from anywhere else.
Are Brandy and Cognac the Same?
Short answer: yes. Long answer: yes. Well, sort of. All Cognac is brandy but all brandy is not Cognac. Similar to how all Champagne is sparkling wine but all sparkling wine is not Champagne. Are we seeing a trend with our French friends?!
Victor Hugo, that romantically inclined gentleman who wrote melodramatic tales like Les Misérables, refers to it as the ‘liquor of the gods.’ With such a repertoire of art under his belt, I’m inclined to believe him. So, in order for this godly spirit to be cognac, it must come from the Cognac region, which you’ll find in the Southwest of France.
It is believed that the region has a superior terroir, which means it makes a superior brandy. This is the biggest difference between brandy and cognac – brandy can be made anywhere in the world. So, where does it come from? Cognac can only be made in its region. Additionally, there are other subtle yet important differences that elevate it above its brandy brethren.