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French Brandy & Cognac

French Brandy

French bandy is regarded as some of the finest brandy in the world, with their best known style being cognac. Aside from the standard French brandies and cognacs there is one other style of brandy that the French are known for which is Armagnac. Below is an overview of each of these brandy styles and what makes them stand out as some of the world’s best.

What is French Brandy?

French brandy is the name given to all brandies made in all other regions outside of the Cognac region. Produced using column stills, these brandies are aged in oak casks for a variety of time periods. In order to smooth out the taste of these brandies they are often mixed with ingredients and drinks including wines, brandies and other cognacs. 

Cognac

Cognac is produced in the Cognac region which is located on the west coast of France and only brandy made within this region can call itself a true cognac. It is so highly regarded for its quality that many brandies are judged by the cognac, making it one of the most sought after brandies in the world. 

The grapes used in the production of cognac are usually thin and low in alcohol which means that they aren’t great for the creation of wine but are great for creating brandy. The process that goes into making authentic cognacs involves double distilling in pot stills followed by aging in oak casks. During the aging process, new oak is used this to give the intense spirit a more seasoned flavour, as well as impart colour. If the cognac is chosen to go through a more seasoned session it is moved to casks that have already been used which affects the flavour while it ages.

Cognac Label Types

Cognac has a distinct difference when it comes to labelling as they don’t display the age. Instead of displaying ages on the bottles, the industry took a new approach, using letters to make reference to its age.

V.S. (Very Superior)

This term is used to refer to cognacs that have been aged in casks for at least two years.

V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale)

This term is used to refer to cognacs that have been aged in casks for at least four years.

XO (Extra Old)

This term is used to refer to cognacs that have been aged in casks for at least six years.

Armagnac

Armagnac is a type of brandy produced in the Armagnac region in Southwest France. For more information see our Armagnac page.

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