A Brief history of cognac

During the Middle Ages, the city of Cognac was already well known in the Poitou region for its wine trade. Somewhere along the XV century, someone had the idea of distilling the wine once, in order to facilitates the transport and storage. Although they were able to achieve their goal, they didn’t obtain a Brandy of quality.

In the XVII century, “Chevalier de la Croix Marron”, a wine amateur and a distiller, while trying to capture the wine’s soul by distilling it once, decided to put the brandy back into the boiler for a second distillation. Thus, Cognac Brandy was born, by the miracle of two heating over an open fire.

Nowadays, the distillers still use the same modus operandi as the one of their ancestors, although modified by taking into account a three century old experience in the field of distillation.

The name Cognac applies to all white grapes grown in the region of Charente (see attached map), which are produced into wine and twice distilled strictly in that region. Cognac should be stocked at least two years in oak barrels after its distillation.

To know the age of a Cognac, one should refer to its label:

V.S. Cognac (Very Special)***: The youngest eau-de-vie in the blend has to be aged for at least 2 years.

V.S.O.P. Cognac (Very Superior Old Pale), Réserve: The youngest eau-de-vie in the blend has to be aged for at least 4 years.

X.O. Cognac (Extra Old), Napoléon: The youngest eau-de-vie in the blend has to be aged for at least 6 years (soon the minimum age requirement for this appellation will be 10 years).

In general, Cognac producers use older eau-de-vie in their blends than the minimum required ones.

Savouring Cognac is an invitation to awaken the senses.

Allow your eyes to capture the brilliant clarity and viscosity. Admire the colour that varies from pale yellow to dark amber, with hints of honey and gold.

Breathe in the bouquet and aromas that play such an important part in tasting and discovering a Cognac.

The V.S., V.S.O.P. and X.O. can be savoured neat (without any mix).

A V.S. Cognac can liven up cocktails and long drinks.

A V.S.O.P. Cognac mixes wonderfully with still or sparkling mineral water to make a delicious thirst quenching drink.

The delicate notes of an X.O. Cognac reveal themselves progressively. This is a Cognac to be appreciated in a sniffer or a “tulip glass”.


To learn more about any aspect of the Cognac history and industry, go to: encyclopedie.cognac.fr