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What is the difference between Cognac & Brandy?

What is the difference between Cognac & Brandy?

Wine Knowledge |

Is Cognac just the same as brandy?

The literal definition of brandy is: any distilled spirit that is made from fruit juice (apples, pears, grapes). And yes, Cognac is also a distilled spirit made from fruit juice (so it actually is a type of brandy), however its the regulations around the making of the Cognac that make it distinctive. Lets look into it in more detail…

Where do they come from?

Where brandy can be made anywhere in the world, Cognac can ONLY be made in a certain region in South-Western France, in the small grape-growing region surrounding the town of Cognac (about a 3-hour train ride from Paris and just north of the world-renowned wine region of Bordeaux). The more premium Cognac’s are from the Grande Champagne or Petite Champagne sub-regions, while the Borderies, and Fin Bois are sill considered to produce very high quality.

What are they made from?

Brandy can technically be made with any fruit juice (although it is mostly made with some sort of grapes). Cognac must be made up of a minimum of 90% of little known varietals Folle Blanche, Colombard & Ugni Blanc. with up to 10% of varying other grape varieties being allowed.

What is the distillation process?

Brandy can be distilled using any distillation process (most commonly it is a continuous method). Cognac however, has severe regulations around distillation: it must be double-distilled, a far superior and more expensive method that results in a highly alcoholic and very pure spirit. And it must be distilled in copper. What difference does this made? Think of the difference between cooking potatoes in boiling water, or frying them in butter… copper adds flavour that simply can’t be replicated!

What is the ageing process?

Brandy can be aged in any style of oak casks, and while in some countries (ie France) classify it in the same age scale as Cognac, some countries do not have the same regulations. Cognac is always aged in Limousine or Tronçais oak casks.

VS (Very Special) 2+ years

VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) 4+ years

XO (Extra Old) 10+ years

Essentially: Cognac is to brandy what Champagne is to sparkling wine… Similar in so many ways, yet made in one location in a superior fashion, resulting in an exclusively French premium product (that can also fetch much higher prices!).

About Grand Breuil…

Grand Breuil is exclusive to Vendimia in Australia, carefully selected by the Vendimia tasting panel from many of the Cognac houses for its superior quality but great affordability compared to the 4 big brands (think Martell, Rémy Martin, Hennessy and Courvoisier).

For cognac-makers and siblings Lilian & Jerome Tessendier, the art of crafting Grand Breuil cognac is to turn time into an ally. Having learnt the art of distillation through experience, passion and history, this pair are said to have noses like none other in the Cognac world! Fruity, floral and woody scents give their cognac prestige and nobility. As well as flavour and aroma, the very history of the prestigious Grand Breuil cognac is unveiled at each tasting occasion.

FUN FACT: When the distillation process is finished, the Cognac comes out as a clear spirit (like Vodka) and has 70% alcohol. The ageing in oak barrels gives it the colour & the alcohol percentage is actually watered down to the standard 40% using highly sophisticated blending techniques.

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