Cognac Prunier 20 Years Old Brandy St Agnes 20 Years Old
All cognacs are brandies, but all brandies are not cognacs.
Let's highlight the difference in 3 main points:
1: The AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée)
The term brandy refers to all wine-based spirits, indifferently as to its origin (France, Spain, Australia…) and mode of production.
Cognac is a registered designation of origin (AOC) which means it is a brandy made of wines exclusively produced in the Cognac Delimited Region, mainly in the Charente and Charente-Maritime departments.
Only five white grape varieties are allowed for the preparation of Cognac : Colombard, Folle Blanche, Montils, Ugni Blanc and Sémillon, but the most widely planted is Ugni Blanc.
Cognac gets its name from the city of Cognac
2: The method of elaboration
The difference between Cognac and brandy also lies in the production process.
Cognac is subject to relatively restrictive specifications.
The distillation is performed in a two-stage process (the Charentaise method) in copper pot stills. The ageing is also essential for an eau-de-vie to be sold as Cognac. It must be aged for a minimum of 2 years in French oak barrels.
Whereas Brandy’s minimum ageing time is only 6 months and the method of distillation is not controlled.
3: The taste
The last difference between Cognac and Brandy is substantial : the taste. There is no need to be an expert to feel the difference between the two, since a disparity exists in the colour, scents and complexity of the aromatic flavours in these two products.
Even if Brandy and Cognac are part of the same family, their production is different, the quality and the method of elaboration are clearly different. As a result, Cognac can be defined as the excellence of the French tradition’s know-how.
Nevertheless some brandies, made with great care and rigor can get closer to a good Cognac.
Now it's up to you to choose which of these two spirits you will prefer.