30.12.2021 - 2 min

How do you define cognac?

Bookmark
    cognac essentials

    Is cognac a brandy, wine, liquor or spirit?

    It’s impossible to think of France without thinking of its wine. After all, the country is the world’s third-biggest wine producer behind Italy and Spain.

    Yet France has also staked a reputation for the amazing quality and variety of its home-grown spirits. From absinthe and armagnac, to benedictine, cointreau, chartreuse and calvados, French spirits are enjoyed in living rooms, bars and fine-dining establishments the world over. And perched atop the list of famous French spirits, is cognac.

    But is cognac actually a spirit? Or is it a wine? A liquor? Or something else entirely? Let’s delve into some popular questions and misconceptions about the most delectable French export.

    Meta Title Tag

    Is cognac the best brandy?

    A brandy can be any spirit distilled from fermented fruit juice. By this definition cognac is definitely a brandy, produced as it is from fermented grape juice.

    To many people however, Maison Martell included, cognac is in a class of its own when compared to compatriots in the brandy category.

    The primary reason is that cognac production is strictly controlled, assuring a standard of quality not demanded for other brandies.

    At Maison Martell, this includes double distillation in copper pot stills, and the maturation of eaux-de-vie in fine-grained oak barrels for at least two years.

    The grapes used are a majority of the Ugni Blanc variety, and must be grown in one of six crus around the town of Cognac in south-west France: Borderies, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins Bois, Bon Bois and Bois Ordinaire.

    The small geographic footprint of the Cognac vineyards limits the quantity of cognac that can be produced every year.  In fact in terms of global spirits sold by volume, cognac accounts for less than 1 percent. In the global world of brandies, this means cognac is a veritable rarity.

    Finally, there is the question of heritage and savoir-faire. At Maison Martell, each bottle of cognac is the product of centuries of savoir-faire, handed down from nine generations of cellar masters. The same can seldom be assured with lesser brandies.

    Meta Title Tag

    Is cognac a wine or liquor?

    As cognac is made from grapes, does that mean cognac is a wine?
    Or does the fact of its distillation designate cognac as a liquor (a spirit)?

    While both are technically correct, cognac is more commonly referred to as a spirit. These are alcoholic drinks produced from a grain, fruit or vegetable-derived sugar that has been fermented and distilled. Other popular spirits include vodka (from potatoes or grains), bourbon (corn mash) and tequila (blue agave).

    The famous French writer Victor Hugo was under no illusion. He described cognac as the ‘liquor of the gods’.

    Is cognac a whisky?

    While cognac is therefore a wine and a spirit, one thing certain is that cognac is not a type of whisky.

    On a superficial level, the confusion is understandable. Both are amber-colour spirits, the product of generations of savoir-faire with a strong affinity to their region of production.

    Yet the process to produce cognac and whisky is rather different. Where cognac is produced from grapes, whisky is generally produced from barley and corn.

    There is also the question of origin. Where cognac is from a specific region of France, whisky can be produced all over the world, aside from Scotch that must be distilled and aged in Scotland.

    Whisky is distilled twice, or sometimes three times, in pot or hybrid stills to achieve the required strength and purity. Generally speaking, it is then aged in used oak barrels for a minimum of three years, though most well-known whiskies are aged far longer.

    Despite these differences, cognac and whisky are both exceptional products that can be enjoyed and savoured the world over.

    Discover the difference between cognac and bourbon.

     

    header-logo
    Age check! Are you of legal drinking age?
    Choose a country or region
    Asia
    Chinese Mainland
    Hong Kong SAR (english)
    Hong Kong SAR (traditional chinese)
    Macau SAR
    Malaysia
    Singapore
    Taiwan
    Vietnam
    Albania
    Algeria
    Andorra
    Antigua and Barbuda
    Argentina
    Armenia
    Australia
    Austria
    Azerbaijan
    Bahamas
    Belarus
    Belgium
    Belize
    Benin
    Bermuda
    Bhutan
    Bolivia
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Botswana
    Brazil
    Bulgaria
    Burundi
    Cabo Verde
    Cambodia
    Cameroon
    Canada (english)
    Canada (français)
    Cayman Islands
    Chad
    Chile
    Colombia
    Comoros
    Costa Rica
    Croatia
    Cuba
    Cyprus
    Czechia
    Denmark
    Djibouti
    Dominica
    Dominican Republic
    Ecuador
    Egypt
    El Salvador
    Eritrea
    Estonia
    Ethiopia
    Fiji
    Finland
    France
    Gabon
    Gambia
    Georgia
    Germany
    Ghana
    Greece
    Grenada
    Guatemala
    Guinea Bissau
    Guyana
    Haiti
    Honduras
    Hungary
    Iceland
    India
    Indonesia
    Ireland
    Israel
    Italy
    Jamaica
    Japan
    Jordan
    Kazakhstan
    Kenya
    Kiribati
    Kyrgyzstan
    Lao People's Democratic Republic
    Latvia
    Lebanon
    Lesotho
    Liberia
    Liechtenstein
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Macedonia
    Malawi
    Mali
    Malta
    Marshall Islands
    Mauritius
    Mexico
    Moldova
    Monaco
    Mongolia
    Montenegro
    Morocco
    Mozambique
    Myanmar
    Namibia
    Nauru
    Nepal
    Netherlands
    New Zealand
    Nicaragua
    Niger
    Nigeria
    Niue
    Norway
    Oman
    Palau
    Panama
    Papua New Guinea
    Paraguay
    Peru
    Philippines
    Poland
    Portugal
    Republic of Korea
    Romania
    Russia
    Rwanda
    Saint Kitts and Nevis
    Saint Lucia
    Saint Vincent
    Samoa
    San Marino
    Sao Tome and Principe
    Senegal
    Serbia
    Seychelles
    Sierra Leone
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    Solomon Islands
    South Africa
    Spain
    Sri Lanka
    Suriname
    Swaziland
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    Tajikistan
    Tanzania
    Thailand
    Timor-Leste
    Togo
    Tonga
    Trinidad and Tobago
    Turkey
    Turkmenistan
    Uganda
    Ukraine
    United Arab Emirates
    United Kingdom
    United States
    Uruguay
    Uzbekistan
    Vanuatu
    Venezuela
    Zambia
    Zimbabwe
    Year

    Remember Me

    Please do not tick this box if the device is shared with minors.

    Enter

    Martell & Co needs to process this information to make sure you have the legal age to access our website according to the applicable law. For further information, please consult our Privacy Policy

     ©2020 Martell. All rights reserved.

     

     

    Please do not share with anyone under 18. Drink responsibly.

    Please do not share with anyone under 18. Drink responsibly.