Know your Brandy, Cognac and Whisky

Whenever you hear the words Brandy, Cognac or Whisky, a huge guy with a big Cuban cigar comes to mind. This is because they are associated with wealth and class. Often time people find it difficult to even differentiate or distinguish between the drinks, as they have similar tastes.

Below are the differences in this spirit drinks;

Brandy

Brandy is short for "Brandywine" and it is produced by distilling wine and aging it in wooden casks to mature for drinking. Sometimes caramel coloring is added to the drink to imitate the effects of aging, while some brandy drinks are produced with the combination of both aging and coloring. Brandy contains about 30 to 60 % alcohol per volume and it’s usually taken after dinner as digestifs.

Varieties of Brandy

Grades of Brandy

  • V.S. ("very special")
  • V.S.O.P. ("very superior old pale")
  • XO ("extra old") or napoléon
  • Hors d'âge ("beyond age")

The grades can be found near the drinks brand names on the bottle.

Cognac

Cognac or konyak is a variety of Brandy made from grape, named after a town called cognac in France. To produce cognac, two distillations are done in traditional charentais, copper alembic stills after the grapes have been pressed and the extracted juice fermented for about three weeks, leaving the wild yeasts to convert the sugar into alcohol with up to 70% per volume. Cognac is aged in limousine oak casts for about two years before they are bottled and sold publicly. The longer cognac stays in the limousine oak casts, the lesser its alcohol volume this is due to a phenomenon called la part des Anges (reduction in alcohol level).

Grades of Cognac

  • V.S. (Very Special)
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) 
  • XO (Extra Old) or Napoléon to Hors d'âge (Beyond Age).

Whisky

Whisky is a distilled alcoholic beverage produced from fermented grain mash. Whisky is aged in American or French oak casks. During the aging period, the whisky undergoes extraction, evaporation, oxidation, concentration, filtration, and coloration to achieve the final flavor. To distill special flavors of Whisky, malts and grains are combined in various ways such as single malt whisky, blended malt whisky, blended whisky, cask strength, single cask to produce unique flavors. Whisky drinks contain about 40% alcohol by volume.

Varieties of Whisky

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