What is cognac and how is it produced?

What is cognac and how is it produced?

What is cognac and how is it produced?

Wines from various crus are taken to distilleries in the winter and distilled individually to preserve their individual traits and virtues. Every distinction must be preserved against uniformity, a trait that will be entrusted to blending, throughout this phase.

Distillation takes conducted between September 1st and March 31st, a period that has remained constant throughout time, employing “Charentais” stills, which date back to the fourteenth century. Copper is used exclusively in stills to provide a high level of resistivity and heat conductivity while also preventing the formation of acid fats. This feature eliminates the possibility of the brandy being tainted by unpleasant odors and tastes.

Stills have an onion-shaped boiler with a dome on top that gathers and directs steam. A “swan neck” pipe runs from the top of the dome to a serpentine that runs from the top of the boiler to a container that collects the distilled liquid. Two ebullitions are known as “chauffes” are used in the procedure.

This twofold ebullition procedure allows for the creation of brandies of exceptional refinement and purity, and is a distillation technique that has remained unchanged throughout time.
Filling the boiler with wine starts the distillation process.

The wine is then cooked for around 8-10 hours at a moderate temperature, resulting in an alcoholic vapor that rises and passes through the serpentine circuit. The steam cools and condenses during this phase, and the liquid is collected in a container at the circuit’s conclusion.

The first step produces “bruillis,” a milky liquid that is thick, has few smells and has a low alcohol content.
The procedure is repeated using “raw” brandy once the initial ebullition is completed. The most major ebullition, known as “la bonne chauffe,” lasts around 12 hours.

It’s a delicate operation that necessitates a high level of operator skill since they’ll have to remove the head and tail of the liquid, which are the initial and final parts of the liquid while preserving just the core section, the famed “heart” of the brandy. The first distillation yields a brandy with modest alcohol content, but the second yields a brandy with about 70% alcohol content.

The completion of the two distillation procedures is just the first step in the manufacturing process; the distilled brandy must go through two additional steps before it can be sold as cognac.
Aging is the next step. The brandy is stored in 350 liter (92 gallon) oak barrels from from the Limousin and Tronçais woods. This specific wood imparts an amber hue to cognac while gently transferring fragrances, tannins, and lignin to the brandy.

The porosity of the wood also facilitates the evaporation of a large amount of cognac each year, on the order of hundreds of casks: the so-called “part des Anges.” Aging is a process that may span anywhere from a few months to a few decades.

Cognac may be aged for up to 60 years; beyond that, it has a harsh and abrasive flavor. The length of time spent maturing is determined by the kind of wine used for distillation, as well as producer choices and the weather.

Cognac is created through a series of little processes, each of which is critical and adds to the final product’s excellence. Extra ancient cognacs are not maintained in casks for longer than necessary: they are placed into demijohns called “bonbons” and stored in special chambers called “paradise.”

The basement is meticulously and constantly monitored. A chamber with the proper humidity enables the proper release of water and alcohol from casks: a state that must be maintained throughout time and during the aging process.

The presence of a tiny mold called Torula Compniacensis, which thrives in these specific circumstances and derives food from the alcohol escaping from barrels, gives gray-colored walls to cellars where cognac casks are kept.
Following aging, the last stage of manufacturing is mixing, also known as an assembly.

The “master of the cellar” (maitre de chai), who determines the length of age for each cognac, performs this delicate job. This process entails diluting and combining cognacs from various vintages and vineyards to achieve the highest possible quality: a homogenous and harmonious product.

Most distilleries have traditionally used brandies that are older than the legal minimum in order to acquire a particularly advantageous assembly or to maintain a high and consistent product quality. Diluting cognac with spring water or distilled water to reduce the concentration of alcohol to about 40% is also part of the assembly process.

Cognac is eventually bottled and launched on the market, allowing it to be purchased in stores all over the globe.

The quality of a cognac is also affected by its age, which is indicated in acronyms and words rather than years. The designation of aging is determined by the age of the younger cognac included in the blend.

Furthermore, unlike wine, the age of cognac is defined by the time spent in a cask, but the age of brandy is unaffected by the time spent in a bottle. The following are the definitions used to determine a cognac’s age:

• If the younger brandy in the mix is up to four and a half years old, the cognac is classified as VS (Very Superior) or Trois Etoiles (three stars). • If the younger brandy is between four and six years old, the cognac is classified as VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), VO (Very Old), or Réserve.

• Cognac is classified as Vieille Reserve (Old Reserve), Grande Réserve (Gran Reserve), Royal, Vieux (Old), XO (Extra Old), Napoléon if the younger brandy is older than six and a half years. In general, they are cognacs of exceptional quality.

• If the younger brandy is older than six and a half years, the phrases Hors d’Age and Paradis may be used; nonetheless, they are reserved for cognacs older than 50 years.
If at least 50% of the brandies used in the mix are from the Grande and Petite Champagne regions, the cognac is classified as “Fine Champagne.”

How to Appreciate Cognac.

The finest glass for tasting cognac is a tulip-shaped glass, which guides the smells towards the nose due to the narrowing of the aperture. Connoisseurs like to drink cognac straight from the bottle, in the traditional tulip or balloon glasses, at a temperature of around 20°-22° C (68°-71° F), warmed only when necessary by the heat of the hand, which helps to release the recognizable and unique scents.

It is used as a basic component in various hot beverages in the winter, and it may also be used to make thirst-quenching long drinks in the summer. It is, of course, an essential element in many cocktails, contributing to the enrichment and characterization of every production of “blended beverages” with its aroma.

There are various foreign cocktails that include cognac; one of the most well-known is the Sidecar, which gets its name from its creator: a postman. During the frigid winter nights, it seems that a postman riding in a sidecar would stop at a pub along the route and order a cognac with ice and Cointreau.

This is how the recipe came to be: 2/4 cognac, 1/4 Cointreau, and 1/4 lemon juice. Cognac also provides fascinating and well-known pairings, such as chocolate. Cognac and cigars are a popular pairing among smokers, resulting in a “happy marriage,” as they say.

How Gin is made.

Although there are various ways to make gin, the European Community Regulation on Spirit Drinks (No. 1576 of 1989) only specifies two:

• The first, and by far the most significant, is ‘distilled gin’ (of which London gin and Plymouth gin are kinds), which is made using the conventional process (explained below). Second, gin may be made simply by flavoring appropriate alcohol with natural flavoring ingredients that have a prominent juniper flavor: this is known as ‘compounding’ in scientific terms.

Gin may be manufactured from any spirit alcohol that fulfills the EC Regulation’s standards for purity (specified maximum residual levels) and original (agricultural) strength (at least 96 percent alcohol by volume – ABV). This ‘neutral’ spirit’s best foundation is either grain (often barley and maize) or molasses, and it has no flavor.

All of the flavoring components are natural and are known as ‘botanicals.’ Each producer’s botanicals vary in kind and amount according to their own tightly guarded formulations; all are meticulously picked and evaluated for purity and quality.

Coriander, angelica, orange peel, lemon peel, cardomom, cinnamon, grains of paradise, cubeb berries, and nutmeg are some of the additional botanicals used in gins. A good gin usually comprises six to 10 botanicals.

Distillation procedures differ from one manufacturer to the next. To obtain the appropriate strength of roughly 45 percent ABV, the spirit is usually diluted by adding clean water.
This is pumped into a copper still, where the flavoring components are added and the still is permitted to steep.

Some distilleries use a tray to hold the botanicals above the whiskey.
The essential oils (less than 5% of the weight) that give the spirit its flavor are removed from the botanicals by heating the still with a steam coil or jacket.

The initial distillate ‘runnings’ are re-circulated until they meet the required standard and strength (over 90% ABV). The lesser quality early portion of the run (‘foreshots’) and conclusion of the run (‘feints’) are run off to be redistilled, as evaluated by the ‘Stillman’s’ ability and expertise.

Only the middle run,’ which is run off at about 80-85 percent ABV, is needed to make high-quality gin. The product is subsequently subjected to a quality control ‘Tasting Panel,’ as well as gas chromatography analysis, to confirm that it satisfies the needed specifications. This guarantees that the product is consistent.

By adding clean demineralized water, the gin is then brought to the needed EU legal minimum alcohol level – at least 37.5 percent ABV to satisfy EC standards, while some gins have a higher level – to meet EC regulations. It is now ready to be bottled since it does not need any maturing time.

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There is a less expensive way to make gin. Essential oils are derived from plants either by distillation or by pressing. These are mixed with the proper amount of water. Under EC guidelines, the result of this “cold compounding” may be labeled “gin,” but not “distilled” or “London” gin.

Before the distillation process, this procedure was performed to confirm that the quality of the alcohol was acceptable. This procedure is no longer essential due to advancements in neutral spirit manufacturing.

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Gin, the Modern Cocktail

After being scarce during the 1914-18 World War, gin rose to prominence in the 1920s, the first ‘Cocktail Age.’
Gin became the sweetheart of the famed Cunard voyages because it was recognized as a cosmopolitan and refreshing drink.

The increasingly popular notion of the ‘Cocktail-Party’ crossed the Atlantic from the United States to Britain in the 1920s and 1930s, thanks to an American hostess who wanted to fill up the time between teatime and dinner for her guests.

The delicate flavor of London dry gin made it simple to combine, and it rapidly became a standard component in a slew of trendy cocktails, including the world-famous and lasting Martini.

Many more cocktails with odd names followed over the following twenty or thirty years, reflecting the befuddling and sophisticated culture that gave birth to them.

W.C. Fields was questioned why, if he didn’t have a drinking problem, he bought 300 cases of gin before prohibition began. “I didn’t expect it would stay that long,” he said.

The Bartenders’ Guild had 7000 drinks in its database by 1951! Gin had also become one of the three necessary beverages for home entertainment at the time. Even in current times, gin and tonic remain one of the most popular and refreshing beverages.

And the newest cocktail craze – which has even spawned a popular American film of the same name – has spawned a new career path for young guys who want to be seen socializing with the affluent and famous.

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‘Mixologists’ are a new generation of bartenders who create and serve the most innovative drinks, which often include fresh fruit juices from all over the world.
Gin has come a long way from the ‘palaces’ of the early nineteenth century, and may now be found in a glamorous, contemporary, chrome, and mirrored location near you.

Baccio Punch

• 1 normal bottle dry gin
1 bottle champagne (non-vintage) (or superior dry sparkling wine)

liqueur half-bottle

• 1 pint (575ml) grapefruit juice, unsweetened

/ 112 quarts soda-water (say a siphon)

In a large mixing basin with lots of ice, combine all ingredients except the sparkling wine. Fruits should be included.

as available throughout the season or at your discretion Add the wine just before serving (well chilled)

Anisette is the liqueur called for in the original recipe. If you despise it as much as I do, then

Substitute Cointreau or Grand Marnier for the rum.


• 2 tbsp. dry gin

12 oz. dry vermouth

12 oz. of dry red vermouth

• 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Shake well before using.

Cherry ornamentation is a common sight.

Hug a bunny

• 1 gin measure (dry)

1 measure Pernod Ricard

1 ounce whisky

Shake well before using.


• 1 gin measure

1 measure vermouth (dry)

1 tbsp. crème de menthe verde

Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a cocktail glass.

If desired, garnish with a mint sprig.

Clover Club is a group of people that get together to

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

1 grenadine syrup glass

2 gallons lemon juice

Using your hands, violently shake the container and sift the contents.

Occasionally topped with soda water, but best served undiluted.

Nose of a Dog

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry (or more)

• 1 draught beer glass

Angels Who Have Fallen

• 2 tsp. crème de menthe verde

2 gin measures

• 1 lemon or 12 lime juice

1 teaspoon of Angostura bitters

Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a cocktail glass.

If desired, garnish with a mint sprig.

McGee the liar

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

1 rosso vermouth glass

• 1 glass of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

three dashes Angostura


• 1 gin measure

• 1 tablespoon lime cordial

Combine the gin and lime cordial in a cocktail glass half-filled with ice and serve.

If you like, you may use crushed ice.

Cobbler with Gin

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

With a large glass, dissolve a teaspoon of caster sugar in a little water. Crushed ice is half-filled. Add

2 tblsp gin, 1 tblsp lemon juice, 1 tblsp fresh lime juice Stir To make it more personal, garnish with fruit.

taste Add some soda water on top. Straws are provided.

Straws are provided.

Cocktail made with gin

• 3 tbsp. gin (dry)

3 dashes bitter orange

Stirring and straining

Add the orange peel zest.

Crusta Gin

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

12 oz. Cointreau

1 tsp. maraschino

a smidgeon of Angostura

Moisten the rim of a wine glass with lemon juice and then dip it in fine sugar. Place

In the glass, there is a lengthy spiral of lemon peel. Shake separately and pour into a prepared glass.

Gin Remedy

• 2 gin measures

• 14 lemon juice

/ 1 cup of water

1 teaspoon of sugar

Crush two-thirds of a cup of ice in a tall tumbler. Stir in all of the ingredients well.

Slices of any seasonal fruits may be used to decorate the rim of the glass.

Ginger gin (1)

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

• 1 ginger ale glass

a lemon/lime slice

Use American ginger ale or Schweppes Original to mix with ice in a large glass.


Ginger gin (2)

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

• 1 ginger beer glass

a lemon/lime slice

In a large glass, combine all ingredients with ice. Unfortunately, ginger beer is the more traditional of the two.

is no longer widely accessible: what is available is sweeter than traditional “stone ginger” and has a longer shelf life.

Extra lemon juice is recommended. This drink is incredibly refreshing.

Julep made with gin

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

3 sprigs of fresh mint and 1 teaspoon caster sugar, crushed in a large tumbler

Fill glass almost to the brim with crushed ice Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and add at least one cup of water.

Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Gin is a sinful drink.

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

• 12 oz. orange juice

12 oz. lemon juice

grenadine syrup, 1 teaspoon

Shake well before using.

Sour Gin

• 112 ounces dry gin

• 1 melon juice glass

caster sugar, half a teaspoon

Shake well before using.

Add a lemon slice


• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

2 gallons ginger wine

It’s possible that it’ll be lightly frosted, but it’s better not to – especially in the winter.


• 2 gin measures

• 1 orange juice glass

12 glass Curaçao orange

Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a cocktail glass.

Curaçao may be replaced with any orange liqueur.


• 2 sloe gin measures

1 metric Cointreau

12 ounces Pernod

Shake well before using.

The Neck of a Horse

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

• a sprinkle of Angostura bitters

/ Add a splash of ginger ale to the mix.

In a tall glass, hang a spiral of lemon peel and quarter-fill it with ice.


• 112 ounces dry gin

12 oz. red vermouth

1 tsp. maraschino

a smidgeon of orange bitters

Shake well before using.


• 1 gin measure

1 measure vermouth (dry)

Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a cocktail glass.

Add a stuffed olive or a twist of lemon peel to finish.

Martini is a brand of martini (Medium)

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

1 teaspoon each of red and dry vermouth (or less)

Stirring and straining

Add the zest of a lemon peel if desired.

Martini is a brand of martini (Sweet)

• 2 tbsp. gin, dry

1 ounce of red vermouth

Stirring and straining

Add a little slice of lemon if desired.

Dry Martini

• 2 gin measures

1 measure vermouth (dry)

Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a cocktail glass.

Add a stuffed olive or a twist of lemon peel to finish.

Extra Dry Martini

• 2 gin measures

1 dash vermouth (extremely dry)

Shake all of the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and pour into a cocktail glass.

Add a stuffed olive or a twist of lemon peel to finish.