What makes this special brown spirit different from brandy? Cognac expert Hussain van Ross explains the difference between brandy and cognac and what sets them apart.
Just like champagne, cognac has to be produced in a specific region.
Cognac was named after the town of Cognac in France. The spirit is produced in the wine-growing region which surrounds the town from which it takes its name.
- “Regulated by law, cognac can only come from one region in the world. Brandy, on the other hand, refers to any spirit distilled from fruit-based wine – including grapes made anywhere else,” says Hussain.
Cognac is aged for at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels, whereas South African brandy must be aged for at least three years in barrels no larger than 340l and these are typically French oak.
Lastly, cognac must have an alcohol content of at least 40%, while SA brandy content is either 38% or 43%.
If you’re a first time cognac drinker, Hussain suggests enjoying it with a splash of water to decrease the alcohol content.
"This will allow the liquid to release its aromas and character," he says.