Cognac, in the English speaking world also referred to as “brandy”, is a alcoholic beverage that has its origins in the Cognac region in Charente, France. Similar to Champagne, the actual name Cognac can only be given to the spirit if it is produced in the Cognac “appellation”, the region around the town of Cognac. |
It is distilled from spirit made from the white Ugni Blanc grape. The grapes are harvested, pressed and fermented. Then the “wine” gets distilled twice in copper pot stills and then needs to age for at least 2 years in big French oak barrels made in central France.
Initially, cognac was a bit of an accident, because the wine was the left-over from the throwaway grapes from the wine production. It was considered a drink for the poor, until it was later on perfected in its exquisiteness. Cognac is produced from the spirit that is called by the French “eau-de-vie”, literally “water of life”. There are six cognac zones that define the quality of the grapes and later on of course also of the cognac itself: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bon Bois and Bois Ordinaire.
The most popular cognac brands is, yes, you are right: Hennessy! Today, Hennessy is the leader in the Cognac business with international sales of around 50 million bottles a year. The company realizes its biggest percentage of profit through international export.
On all of their Cognac bottles you may note things like VS, VSOP and XO:
VS Very Special is the youngest brandy of at least two years in oak casks (or ??? (three stars) like this Hennessy.
VSOP Very Special (less commonly, but officially according to the BNIC, ‘Superior’) Old Pale, where the youngest brandy is aged for at least four years in barrels, but the average wood age is much older like this Hennessy Cognac.
XO Extra Old, where the youngest eaux-de-vie is aged for at least 6, but average upwards of 20 years. Hennessy has also a very popular XO Cognac.
We recommend to test different brands and qualitie and hope you'll fell in love with in this famous french brandy.
For more details on Cognac VSOP, Cognac VS and Cognac XO
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Alexandre Dickson is co-author of Cognac Expert and Cognac enthusiast directly from the Charente in France. On his blog he's writing almost daily about new cognac, upcoming brands like the "Conjure Cognac" promoted by rapper Ludacris. Introduced successfully in 2010!
He's interested in the shift from the US to the Chinese market and is fan of the famous french brandy since 7 years!
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