in the know

Cognac: five things you probably didn't know

We've got our head around the basics of gin, tequila, rum – but cognac? It's time to get to know this sophisticated spirit

1. All cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac

Like champagne, only cognac can come from the French region of Cognac. Cognac is a brandy, but it's only cognac if it comes from Cognac. Got it?

2. The rules surrounding cognac making are almost unbelievably strict

We're serious. Cognac can only be aged in barrels made of French oak from one of two specific forests.

3. Most of the cognac produced is exported

Only three per cent of cognac is consumed in France – the rest is exported.

4. It takes a LOT of wine to make cognac

When distilled, 10 litres of white wine make one litre of cognac.

5. The VS, VSOP and XO thing is easier than you might think

VS – very special. Cognacs that fall into this category have been aged for at least two years.

VSOP – very superior old pale. These cognacs have been aged at least four years.

XO – extra old. Extra old cognacs have been aged at least six years.

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