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double distilled brandy from the Charente

wall of cognac

Cognac is the younger brother of France’s other great brandy, Armagnac. In the 17th century the Dutch, finding that the weak white wine of the Charente turned to vinegar before they got it home, started encouraging the Charentais to make it into brandewijn (‘burnt wine’)— or brandy, as it survived longer in ships.

It was such a success abroad that even today over 98% of Cognac is exported.

Credit for introducing distillation to southwest France actually goes to the Moors during their brief tenure in the Dark Ages. They distilled perfumes in pot stills, and taught the Gascons how to distil their wines, using pots heated by wood fires to extract the vapours before allowing them to condense back into strong, fruity spirits; doing it twice in Cognac (unlike Armagnac) made the brandies even smoother.

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AOPs and some others


Nouvelle Aquitaine

Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Dana Facaros, destination cognac