Difference Between Brandy and Cognac

Brandy vs Cognac

If you are a connoisseur, or if you consume alcoholic drinks, you can easily find the difference between a brandy and a cognac. But, if you are a teetotaler the words brandy and cognac probably mean nothing to you. However, technically speaking, a cognac is a type of brandy itself. There are many who remain confused because the brand cognac has become so popular that it threatens to be identified on its own apart from brandy, which it is. This is similar to the case of Hoover in US, where it has become so popular that the brand has become a synonym for vacuum cleaner. Let us find out the differences, if any, between brandy and cognac.

What is Brandy?

Brandy is a distilled wine. Before we go into details of brandy, it makes an interesting story to know a bit about brandy. In the 16th century, there was a roaring business of wine going on between France and Holland. However, it was very expensive as there was limited space on cargo vessels as they were mostly war vessels. To send full casks of wine proved extremely costly for the traders. One Dutch shipmaster got a brilliant idea. He burnt the wine and made it concentrated by removing most of the water. This soul of the wine allowed him to transport more in the same space. Surprisingly, Dutch people liked the taste of this burnt wine so much that they insisted him not to put water back into it. This is how the beverage became popular, and later got known as brandy or burnt wine.

Difference Between Brandy and Cognac

Though brandy is also made in areas outside cognac, that is prepared outside is referred to as brandy and not Cognac. Brandy comes in different versions. Some brandy types are aged for a longer period and are expensive. At the same time, there are brandy types that are less expensive as they have not been aged for a longer time.

What is Cognac?

Cognac is a type of brandy, which is a generic name for burnt wine. Cognac is an area in France where this particular brandy is made and has become popular in all parts of the world because of its rich taste and aroma. May be, it has to do with the fertile soil of the region or the method of processing the brandy. Cognac essentially is a spirit that is distilled from wine and aged in wooden casks for a minimum period of two years. This type of brandy follows a special making process. The wine gained from grapes is distilled in copper pots twice. Then that liquid is let to age at least two years in oak barrels. You are not wrong if you call a Cognac a brandy, but you have to remember that not all brandy is Cognac, and only that produced in the French region of Cognac is referred to as Cognac.

 Brandy vs Cognac

What is the difference between Brandy and Cognac?

• Origin of the Words:

• Brandy is a corrupted word that comes from Dutch brandjiwin that literally means burnt wine.

• Cognac is an area in France, which is famous for its brandy that is also called Cognac.

• Connection to Wine:

• Brandy is made by distilling wine.

• Cognac is a special type of brandy as it is also made by distilling wine.

• Naming:

• Brandy produced in anywhere of the world is known as brandy.

• The name Cognac is given to brandy that is produced only in the Cognac region of France.

• Distilling Process:

• Brandy is made by heating wine and extracting the alcohol in wine.

• Cognac is wine distilled twice in copper pots.

• Aging:

• Brandy can age as many years as you want. You can use it without aging much as well.

• Cognac is usually aged at least two years before use.

• Price:

• You can have a cheaper version of brandy or an expensive version. Price depends on aging.

• Cognac is generally more expensive than brandy as it is a controlled liquor type.

So, brandy is a distilled wine. Cognac is a type of brandy that comes from the Cognac region of France. Generally, due to it being a controlled type of liquor, Cognac is more expensive than brandy.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Brandy by  Maxx1972 (CC BY-SA 3.0)
  2. Jacquiot XO (Extra Old) by Armanshow (CC BY-SA 3.0)