Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Cognac is one of the best-known and most popular spirits in the world. In particular, it convinces with its high alcohol content and intense taste. But when it comes to choosing a cognac, the decision is not always easy.

There are many different types of cognac. Each has its own valuable characteristics. In the following, we would like to answer the most important questions about cognac. To make it easier for you to choose, we compare different types of cognac and explain the special features of each individual cognac.




Summary

  • Cognac is named after the French town of Cognac. It can only be grown and produced in this region.
  • Cognac is distilled twice in the production process. The high alcohol content makes it very special.
  • The age of the cognac is of particular importance. The length of time it is stored in the oak barrels is therefore very decisive for its quality and intense flavour.

The Best Cognac: Our Picks

Choosing a cognac is not exactly easy. The many different varieties and compositions offer a wide choice. The following products are intended to give you an overview of the different types of cognac and make your purchase decision easier.

Buying and evaluation criteria for cognacs

To help you decide which cognac is right for you, we have summarised the most important criteria. Above all, they should help you to compare the different products with each other.

In the following, we explain what you should pay particular attention to when making your choice.

Alcohol content

The alcohol content of Cognac is what makes it so special. It must be at least 40% and may only be sold above this minimum level. Cognac is stored and matured in oak barrels for several years. After bottling, the cognac’s maturation process is complete. Other spirits which have a similar alcohol content are:

  • Rum
  • Gin
  • Vodka

A wine with an alcohol content of 8% is produced from the grapes of the region. This is distilled twice. After the first distillation, a raw spirit with an alcohol content of 27-30% is obtained. After the second distillation, the cognac will have an alcohol strength of 60-72%.

It is then stored in oak barrels for several years. In the course of the maturation process, some of the alcohol content is lost and around 40% remains.

Vintage

The age of the cognac is of particular importance. The length of time it is stored in the oak barrels is decisive for the quality of the maturity. The vintage determines above all the quality of the cognac and the price. The different age classifications are shown in the following table:

Classification Explanation
Very Special VS Aged and matured for at least two years in oak barrels. The average age is between four and five years. Light colour and aggressive flavour.
Very Superior Old Pale VSOP Aged and matured for at least four years in oak casks. The average age is between five and ten years.
Extra Old XO Stored and matured in oak barrels for at least ten years. The average age is between 20 and 40 years. Very high quality taste and dark colour.
Extra Old XXO Aged and matured in oak barrels for at least 14 years. The oldest classification.

The finished Cognac is a classification of different eaux-de-vie. These differ in terms of storage and the corresponding vintage. The age always refers to the youngest brandy.

Wine-growing region

Cognac is produced exclusively in the region of the French town of Cognac. The Cognac region is located in the southwest of France and is divided into six growing areas. They differ above all in their quality. In particular, the soil conditions play an important role in the cultivation.

  • Grande Champagne
  • Petite Champagne
  • Borderies
  • Fins Bois
  • Bons Bois
  • Bois Ordinaires

Spirits that are not grown and produced in this region are not allowed to use the name. The designation of origin is protected by law.

Production

The production of Cognac is a complex process that takes several years. It is made from grapes grown in the region. A wine with an alcohol content of 8% is made from the grapes, which is distilled twice over the winter.

Storage is also particularly important for the aromas of the cognac, which give it a special taste. The aromas from the wine mix with those from the wood. Storing the cognac in oak barrels for several years gives it a dark colour.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about cognac answered in detail

Are you looking for a cognac, but don’t really know your way around this spirit? The most important questions about cognac are answered briefly below. This should help you decide which brandy is right for you.

What is Cognac?

Cognac comes from the southwest of France. It is grown and produced in the French city of Cognac and the surrounding regions. The basis for Cognac is grapes. Only authorised grape varieties may be used. The special feature of Cognac is the double distillation.

Cognac

Cognac is one of the best-known and most noble spirits. It convinces in particular with elegance and timelessness. (Image source: Anastasia Zhenina/ Pexels)

The designation of origin for Cognac is protected by law. Only the brandies that are cultivated and produced in the Cognacais region may be given this special name.

What types of Cognac are there?

Cognac must be made from the grapes of the region. Three grape varieties in particular are grown and used for the production of Cognac.

  • Ugni Balnc
  • Colombard
  • Folle Blanche

Grapes of the Ugni Balnc variety are predominantly used. These are also known primarily under the name Trebbiano. Most cognacs differ in terms of vintage. The age of the cognac always refers to the youngest part used in the blend. The longer the cognac is stored, the more intense the aroma and colour.

There are also a lot of cognacs that are perfect for cooking. Especially when flambéing. The alcohol gives the dish a unique aroma. The alcohol content will disappear due to the heat during flambéing.

How do you drink cognac?

With many spirits, it is important to drink them in the right way. A good cognac is drunk neat. The right cognac glass plays a special role here. It is crucial for releasing the aromas contained in the cognac.

It is particularly important to let the cognac breathe. The cognac snifter is particularly suitable for enjoying the cognac. The glass with a short stem and the round goblet shape gives the aromas enough space to develop without them being able to escape.

It is important that the bottle of cognac is at room temperature so that the aromas can develop. Do not use ice cubes, otherwise the aromas will not really come to the fore and will lose their flavour. Warm the glass slightly with the palm of your hand. Smell it and slowly get to know the aromas to get a first impression.

Swirl the glass gently and take a small sip. Leave it in your mouth for a few seconds. This allows the flavours to develop freely and you get the full taste. The important thing is to take enough time to enjoy the cognac.

Conclusion

Cognac is a real classic among spirits. The choice of grape varieties and the unique growing region make the Cognac even more special. The Cognac differs from the others mainly by the alcohol content and the corresponding vintage.

When choosing a cognac, it all depends on how much importance you attach to the respective criteria. The decision to buy is therefore mainly dependent on your own personal taste. Before buying, define your individual needs and what taste you are hoping for. We hope you will find the right cognac to enjoy.

Image source: stevepb / pixabay

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