Brandy & Cognac

All about Brandy & Cognac
Brandy and cognac. . . two coveted spirits steeped in history and tradition. These beverages appeal to liquor connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. What is brandy and what is it made from? The evolution of what we now call brandy has a fascinating history. Produced for medicinal purposes as early as the 16th century, the name for this elixir stems from the Dutch word brandewijn, meaning burnt wine. This fermented fruit drink can be made not only from grapes, but can include other fruits as long as it is labeled accordingly. What is cognac and what is it made from? Cognac is arguably the most popular grape-based variety of brandy. This aged brandy is full of flavor and solely originates from the cognac regions in Southern France. Host of ideal soil, topography, and weather that provides ideal growing conditions for white grapes, spirits produced from fruit grown in this region have a very distinct flavor profile. The grapes most commonly used for cognac production are called Ugni blanc. They produce a dry, acidic wine that ages beautifully. There are very strict regulations surrounding cognac production in order to keep the finished product consistent. Notably, no sugars or other substances are allowed to be added during production to preserve only its natural sweetness. Cognac vs. Brandy The best way to explain brandy vs cognac is that all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. As mentioned earlier, cognac is a type of brandy that is usually concocted following some fairly strict procedures and regulations. In other words, spirits produced outside of those specific guidelines are still brandy, but do not meet requirements for developing the coveted cognac flavor. Other examples of brandy that do not align with cognac production procedures include armagnac, pisco, and Obstler. In addition to classic french brandy we know as cognac, Australian brandy is experiencing a resurgence in popularity. Australian brandy may be produced with looser restrictions, possibly contributing to a more diverse flavor profile. Australian brandy does have to be matured in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, but distillers have much more freedom surrounding the rest of the process. This has fostered creativity and opened doors to new flavor profiles in the craft spirit world. Much of the brandy we see on the shelves at stores will either have French or Australian origins. See them on your shelves at home by ordering brandy and cognac delivered to you with Gopuff. Cognac vs. Whiskey Connoisseurs of distilled spirits have plenty of drink options to choose from. One of those; whiskey. Whiskey can be compared to cognac for the simple fact that they are both made from fermented mash and both may be aged in oak barrels. If you ask any true spirit enthusiast, that is about where their similarities cease. While cognac is made with Ugni blanc grapes, whiskey can be made from rye, barley, corn, and wheat. Additionally, aging times vary as cognac spends around two years in oak barrels for its aging process and whiskey ages for a minimum of three years. The result is a deeper, darker spirit. Flavor profiles vary, but cognac can be described as smooth or fruity and some may notice a light vanilla note. Whiskey flavor notes can vary even more greatly to include sweet, smokey, or spicy with hints of caramel. Both unique in their own ways and equally coveted by casual drinkers, enthusiasts, and connoisseurs alike, whiskey vs. cognac is a personal preference. Each provides a unique drinking experience and pairs well with different food. Both spirits can be enjoyed alone in a glass or in a mixed drink. Types of brandy Pisco: Made with very sweet grapes grown in Peru and Chile, pisco is one brandy that does not age in wooden barrels. Instead, pisco spends about 3 months in a container made of glass, clay, or steel after the distillation process. Pisco is becoming increasingly popular in the US as the cocktail “Pisco Sour” trends in wine and cocktail bars alike. Calvados: Calvados is produced from small apples grown in a damp climate in Normandy. This intensely flavored brandy can be distilled once or twice and is aged in oak barrels to perfect its unique flavor. Grappa: The name for this popular spirit, that can be classed as an Italian wine, originates from the Latin word grappapolis, meaning bunch of grapes. Grappa is traditionally produced with the leftover bits of grapes used in wine production for a fragrant and strong profile. Cognac: Arguably the most famous variety of brandy in the world, cognac can only be produced from grapes grown in the 79,000 hectare Cognac region in Southern France. This specific region fosters a microclimate conducive to growing and producing a very specific, fine brandy. Flavored brandy: Flavored brandy is an umbrella for many Brandy variants including that made with fruit other than grapes as well as strong flavors like coffee, vanilla, and ginger. French brandy: France is a relatively large country with varying microclimates. Therefore, produce grown in its various regions produces different flavors. French brandy includes cognac, armagnac, and calvados. Mexican brandy: Many assume that tequila might be the most popular spirit in Mexico, but brandy is actually distilled in higher volume and in more regions of Mexico. Mexico hits the charts as the fourth largest consumer of brandy in the world. Apple brandy: Apple brandy from America is typically produced in two different ways. Commonly, American apple brandy is aged in wooden barrels for a long period of time to produce a spirit that can be described as rich and spicy. Apple brandy can also be un-aged, producing a clear eau de vie for a sweeter spirit. Cherry brandy: Popularly produced in Germany, cherry brandy - or Kirschwasser - is clear and colorless with a sour flavor. Apricot brandy: Apricot brandy is popular for mixing cocktails for its sweet, yet dry profile. WHAT does VS and VSOP mean? VS and VSOP are labels that are used to describe the length of time that cognac has been aged in barrels. This gives the consumer an indicator of what type of flavor to expect. VS stands for Very Special. This indicates that a cognac has been aged for at least two years. VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale. This describes liquor aged for a minimum of four years. Popular cognac With so many different varieties of brandy, it can be difficult to pinpoint a favorite. It’s more fun to enjoy them all, responsibly of course. That can mean using Gopuff to have brandy & cognac delivered straight to your door - so you don’t have to drive. If you’re unsure of where to start, try some of these of these popular cognac brands: Louis XIII Cognac Limited Edition Courvoisier Hennessy Martell
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