The Process Of Making Cognac

The Process Of Making CognacWhen you arrive in this part of France, you will not be able to escape cognac. This brandy is locally produced and gets its name from the area known as Cognac. It is a popular brand that has become an international brand over time. There are some very strict rules regarding how cognac is made and what can be used to produce this special brandy. in order to be able to use the name cognac, the brandy may only be produced in one of the regional zones – there are six in total.

Cognac is produced by distilling wine, which means that the first stage of the process is actually with the wine production.

Some of the grapes from this area are used to make pineau (an aperitif) and wine, but most of the grapes that are picked here are going to end up being used for cognac. The variety of grape that is used to produce cognac is important and there are certain restrictions regarding this. Most of the cognac that is produced is made from the ‘Ugani blanc’ type of grape and it is the most common grape variety grown in France. Colombard and Folle blanche grapes are also used to make cognac.

The trick to making cognac is to distill the wine twice. This double distillation is what gives cognac its unique aroma and taste. The second time it is distilled is known as bonne chauffe.

There are also rules regarding what is used in the distillation process, including what type of oak barrels are used for aging. The liquid that is produced once it has been distilled is known as eaux-de-vie and this needs to be aged in oak casts for a minimum period of two years, which allows the colour and flavours of the cognac to mature. These barrels must be made from two pieces of wood and the wood needs to come from either the Troncais forest or the Limousin region.

Some of the liquid (eaux-de-vie) evaporates during the aging process. This is known as la part des anges – meaning ‘the angels share‘. The fumes from the alcohol actually feed a fungus that grows on the ceilings and walls where cognac is being aged. This fungus used to be what alerted authorities of places where cognac was being produced illegally.

Cognac is graded according to the age of the specific batch.

  • VS/Very Special is the youngest of the cognacs and is aged for a minimum of two years.
  • VSOP/Very Special Old Pale needs to be aged for a minimum of four years.
  • XO/Extra Old is the oldest of all the cognacs and has been aged for six or more years.
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