Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Brandy, Cognac & Armagnac Basics

Bullet Points:

  • "Brandy" is derived from the Dutch word brandiwijn (brandy-wine), "burnt wine", because brandy is essentially distilled wine.
  • Brandy can be found made out of a variety of fruits. Brandy itself is distilled from grapes, but there is also apple brandy, apricot brandy, cherry brandy and more. These typically unaged, fruit brandies are also known as Eaux de vie (pronounced "OH-de-VEE"), which is French for "water of life."
  • Cognac, refers to a supreme variety of brandy derived from the Cognac region of France. In order for a brandy to be Cognac, it must be distilled only twice in pot stills (alembic), using Ugni Blanc grapes, and aged in French Limousine oak barrels.
  • The categories of Cognac are VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), XO (Extra Old), Napoleon, Extra and Hors d'Age. VS is aged at least 2 years in French Oak, VSOP: at least 4 years, XO, Napoleon, Extra and Hors d'Age: at least 6 years. Many premium Cognacs are aged far more than the minimum amount.
  • Armangnac is another historic type of brandy from Southern France. It, like Cognac, is regulated strictly by regional classification, overseen by the Appellation d'origine contrôlée, or AOC, a French agency that grants certificates proving a spirit/wine is of specified origin.
  • Armangnac, unlike Cognac, is triple-distilled, and is not always distilled using a pot still. It is the oldest brandy distilled in France.
Principle Cocktails:
  • Sidecar (Cognac)
  • Brandy Alexander
  • Jack Rose (Apple Brandy)
  • French Connection (Cognac)
  • Corpse Reviver (Cognac & Apple Brandy)
  • Stinger (Cognac)
  • Sangria