Cognac – The Brandy Of Brandies
It cannot be denied that there are a lot of alcoholic drinkers the world over. However, for even the regular drinker, most especially the average ones, the alcoholic drink ‘Cognac’ is something they know of that is reserved for only the affluent. Given the name itself, it exudes wealth and life prosperity. Sort of like seeing a well-made man in his manor and swirling the fine brandy near a fire place while relaxing. The cognac is most notably not associated with the common man but more of with nobilities, aristocrats, and the very wealthy.
Cognac is easily considered as the most popular of all brandies as it is after all the brandy of brandies. However, this is not the reason why it is the preferred drink by those in the very upper class. Cognac is actually a town inside of France. A brandy can be referred to as cognac if it meets certain requirements and standards – more specifically, a particular type of grape.
There are plenty of manufacturers that make cognac. Often, these manufacturers carry different brands for the cognac that they sell. Nevertheless, the more notable brands to the drinking public are Hennessy, Martell, Courvoiser, and Remy Martin. Expensive cognacs range from $5,000 and up. The Henry IV, Cognac Grande Champagne is considered to date as the most expensive of all cognacs.
Cognac grades refer to their quality and are identified by the acronyms VS, VSOP, and XO.
V.S. – this stands for very special and is the grade given to young brandy aged for at least 2 years.
V.S.O.P. – this stands for very superior old pale and is the grade given to young brandy aged for at least 4 years.
X.O. – this stands for extra old and is given to young brandy aged for at least 6 years with an average of up to 20 years in casks. By 2016, it has been declared that for cognac to be given a grade of XO that it needs to be stored for at least 10 years.
The production of cognac is very much similar to the production of other brandies. Grapes are fermented to convert the sugars within the grapes into alcohol. When the grapes have been fully fermented, the juice from the fermentation undergoes two distillation process to produce somewhere around 70% alcohol potency. The distilled alcohol will then be stored on oak barrels or casks where they get aged.
Depending on the manufacturer, the amount of years the distillate is stored will vary. There are some manufacturers that are known to age their brandy for decades in order to make the flavor more concentrated and more mature. The prices of cognac are mostly based on the grade and age of the drink. This is where the acronym defining the grade comes in. True cognacs though are aged for about 4 decades. The young brandy term used in defining cognacs are that of the mass-produced ones. Nevertheless, the name cognac within a brandy is certifiably denotes opulence.