Brandy And Cognac

By: Fiona Muller

Brandy and Cognac are traditionally associated with after dinner drinks or for having a quick snifter of when going out hunting or on a brisk walk. Brandy was also seen as being medicinal in the past because of its warming qualities – think St Bernard dogs finding victims of avalanches. In fact it is a drink that has lots of past associations but of late has had a bit of a development in its image. Brandy and Cognac in fact were going through a drought – whisky was the drink to be seen with and Cognac producers in France were destroying their vines because their product was just not selling. However this has all changed now. Brandy and Cognac, especially the more expensive label cognac, are now associated with rap stars. It has been assimilated into black music by the likes of Busta Rhymes and Jay-Z. Brandy or Cognac is often name checked in songs such as Busta Rhymes's raunchy "Pass the Courvoisier". The drink rivals sex, drugs and guns as a staple subject for rap lyrics and titles. Hennessy seems to be the drink of choice but all the other brand names get a mention too. The best cognacs are also particularly prized today, by an even more unlikely clientele, the clientele of the nightclubs of Moscow.

In fact cognac sales in America increased 6.7 per cent last year. They have trebled in 10 years and now account for 36 per cent of all world sales. After years of decline, cognac is also booming in urban France, where the young drink it long with tonic or mineral water.

So what is Cognac and what is the difference between Brandy and Cognac?

Cognac is a type of brandy – it is called cognac due to the region of France where it originates but has to go through a host of processes before it can actually be called by the name cognac.

Brandy is made by distilling wine. The wine that is used for the production of brandy is acidic thin wine which goes through a double distilling process – the resulting spirit is colourless ans has an alcohol contact of about 70%.

Brandy was originally known as Brandywine and it can be made from grapes or other fruits – think apricot or cherry brandy. The colour of the brandy id usually made by either aging the spirit in casks or by adding a colourant to imitate the process.

Cognac however is a different beast – produced by a simialr process it can’t be sold or even called cognac until it has been aged for two years. The cognac is produuced by blending different mixtures of the aged spirit and the age of the final product depends on the age of the youngest distillate that has been used in the mixture.

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Fiona Muller has been writing for over 20 years. She is a qualified journalist and has worked in food and drink writing for the last few years. For a selection of cognacs and brandys go to -

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