In the beginning, brandy was made as a means of concentrating wine which made it easier to transport in wooden casks. Basically, Brandy is a wine that’s been distilled into a spirit and aged in barrels.
It was discovered that these casks added flavor and Brandy began to be produced on its own with specialty brandies like Cognac and others arising soon afterwards. All are made from base wines with slightly different qualities. The wine has low alcohol and high acid.
Cognac is party of the Brandy Category as it’s a is a wine based brandy made from grapes grown in the region surrounding the town of Cognac in France. Cognac is distilled twice to bring the spirit to effective alcoholic strength and it is aged, blended and reduced to bottling strength. Once cognac is distilled, it’s aged for at most one year in new oak barrels. It is then transferred to old oak barrels for slow aging – two, twenty or more years.
There are three basic classifications:
- V.S (Very Special) - must age for at least 2 years
- V.S.O.P (Very Superior Old Pale) – also called Reserve, must age for at least 4 years
- X.O (Extra Old) – Must age for at least 6 years
Cognac is a smooth and refined tasting beverage.
Armagnac is also aged shortly in new oak and for quality brands, aged for longer periods in older oak for a robust and assertive flavor.