First of all, it should be noted that the name cognac is of Dutch origin and derives from 'brandewijn', which means 'mulled wine'. Therefore, it is a liqueur that is born from the juice, pulp or peel of a fruit. It was born in the 7th - 8th centuries AD, by Arab alchemists, who used it as a medicine. Its dissemination in Europe was possible thanks to Spain and Ireland. It is characterized by an alcohol content of 40 degrees.
It is characterized by aging in oak barrels or by the "criaderas y soleras" method. This method involves filling oak barrels that are arranged in overlapping rows. Always start and fill only the top ones: after a year, some of the contents are poured into the barrels below, while the top ones will receive a brand new one. In this way, the wine we get at the base of this arrangement is not only ready to be consumed, but above all it will have special flavors and aromas, given by the continuous blending.
Distillation takes place in two moments, which is why we are talking about double distillation, which takes place in discontinuous copper whites; the first distillation, called 'broullis', produces a liquid of about 28 ° while the second, 'bonnechauffe', produces a product with an alcohol content of 72% by volume.
There are three stages of aging:
cognac During the first phase of aging, cognac absorbs the phenols of lignin on the staves, which give the particular color of cognac: in this phase new barrels are used, ie those containers used three times and for eight months in a row.
This phase, called extraction, releases mineral salts from the staves.
After extraction, which lasts between eight and twelve months, the brandy is decanted into older barrels for the digestion phase, which lasts between two and five years.
Oxidation of tannins gives color fixation, while contact with aged wood gives cognac complex sensory sensations: in terms of color, it should be specified that the introduction of caramel up to 0.5% for the sole purpose of making the liquid color more vivid.
In the third phase, oxidation takes place, real aging, which makes the distillate complex and interesting.
This phase can last for decades, during which time the Cognac continues to age: the transformation is actually interrupted only when the bottling takes place.
However, it is not possible to age a cognac for more than 60 years: this is due to the natural and benign exchange of oxygen with the outside, which causes a volumetric evaporation of 2/3%.
In reality, cognac becomes so only during assembly, when the reduction is made with distilled water that brings the alcohol content between 38% and 42% of the alcohol by volume: it must be remembered that the brandy contained in the barrels has a volume between 70% and 72%.
.: Very Superior Old Pale (Stravecchio superior galben-pai); cognac or brandy from 18 to 25 years old.
English: Very Very Superior Old Pale (super old straw color top); brandy or brandy from 25 to 40 years old.