Cognac vs Brandy: What is the Difference? (2024)


To fully understand the difference between brandy and cognac, we must consider the production process. Cognac is made with double-distilled dry, acidic white wine from the grapes – Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Folle Blanche – in its AOC. Distillation occurs in copper pot stills within the strict window between 1 October – 31 March. Cognac can be distilled with or without the lees from the wine, but Rémy Martin makes cognac with the lees, for added richness.


Brandy can be produced faster than cognac. Cognac, on the other hand, must be aged for at least two years in oak barrels to make a VS cognac. The House of Rémy Martin stipulates the use of oak wood coming mainly from the forests of the Limousin for its casks, which impart a vanilla flavour. The Cognac Fine Champagne eaux-de-vie that Rémy Martin uses needs to be aged for a long period of time to reach full maturity. Once it is made, a cognac must have an alcohol content of at least 40%. Some brandies are as low as 36%. You can learn more about the production of Rémy Martin cognac here.


Aside from these finer details that explain the difference between brandy, cognac, and Rémy Martin cognac, we ought to remember the most important factor, which cannot be controlled by numbers or geography. How does cognac taste in comparison to brandy? “When you respect perfectly each step of the production … that will give you something rich in the mouth,” says Maxime Pulci. “It is full of aromas. Fruity, floral, spicy notes, the vanilla, the toasting of the oak – a harmony that sip after sip will reveal [itself]. I love when I’m doing a tasting and someone says, ‘I don’t like cognac.’ I say, ‘OK, now I will change your mind. Let’s do it. Let’s take our time.’”

Cognac vs Brandy: What is the Difference? (2024)


Cognac vs Brandy: What is the Difference? ›

Examples of brandy include pisco, armagnac or Obstler (a brandy produced in Austria and Switzerland). Cognac, however, is always made with grapes and has a very specific distillation and blending process located in a small, protected area in the southwest of France. considered as brandy, but not all brandy is cognac.”

How is cognac different from brandy? ›

As previously mentioned, brandy is distilled fruit juice, and it can be any kind of fruit juice, while cognac is a specific type of distilled fruit juice with lots of qualifications. Cognac comes from the Cognac region of southwestern France, and is made with a fruit juice base of white grapes.

Is Hennessy cognac or brandy? ›

Is Hennessy a Type of Whiskey or Brandy? Hennessy is a Cognac, which is a type of brandy. It is not a whiskey. Cognac is a grape-based brandy produced in the Cognac region of France.

Is cognac more expensive than brandy? ›

Cognac tends to be more expensive due to its strict regulations and longer aging requirements, but there are premium Brandies that can rival Cognac in price.

What are the four types of brandy? ›

Seven types of Brandy
  • Cognac. The most famous brandy in the world. ...
  • Armagnac. France's other great brandy. ...
  • Calvados. Calvados is made from apples and pears, not grapes, grown in the Calvados region in Normandy in the north east corner of France.
  • Brandy de Jerez. ...
  • Metaxa. ...
  • Pisco. ...
  • Grappa.

Why is cognac so expensive? ›

Grapes, not grain: When you compare cognac production with whisky, part of the reason that cognac typically is more expensive to produce is down to the base material they're working with. Grapes must be harvested every year and made into wine as quickly as possible once harvested.

What does VSOP mean? ›

VSOP, “Very Superior Old Pale”, which is now common for all Cognac Houses actually dates back to 1817 British Royal Court. So, what does VSOP stand for exactly? For a cognac to be classified as a VSOP, the minimum age of the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend must be at least 4 years old.

What race drinks the most Hennessy? ›

Hennessy has a substantial consumer base among African Americans, who drink the majority of the cognac consumed in the United States. Accordingly, the brand has also marketed itself with initiatives around black entrepreneurship and Black History Month.

Is Grand Marnier a cognac? ›

Grand Marnier orange flavored liqueur is the result of a unique alchemy created by combining the noble taste of cognac with the exoticism of the bitter oranges. It's a unique blend of fine french cognac with bigaradia citrus fruits whose recipe has not changed since its creation.

What is the number 1 cognac? ›

1. Hennessy. Our top cognac has got to be the most recognizable one in the world.

Why is cognac so special? ›

Unlike many other spirits, cognac is aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of two years, and often much longer. During this time, the spirit takes on the flavors and aromas of the wood, developing a rich, complex profile that can include notes of vanilla, caramel, and spice.

Which brand of brandy is best? ›

10 Best Brands Of Brandy To Add To Your Bar Cabinet In 2024
  • Hennessy. Hennessy. VISIT SITE. ...
  • Remy Martin. Remy Martin. VISIT SITE. ...
  • Courvoisier. Courvoisier. VISIT SITE. ...
  • Martell. Martell. VISIT SITE. ...
  • Torres. Torres. Available Online. ...
  • St-Rémy. St-Remy. VISIT SITE. ...
  • Honey Bee Premium Brandy. Honey Bee Premium Brandy. ...
  • Morpheus. Morpheus.

What does xo mean in brandy? ›

Invented by a cognac house in 1870, the cognac XO means « Extra Old ». Indeed, its eaux-de-vie are aged in barrels for at least 10 years. But an XO has, in general, an average age between 15 and 20 years because of its blend. This is the reference for Cognac houses.

Is brandy sweeter than cognac? ›

It depends on the product. Brandy is such a broad term compared to cognac that there are bound to be both sweeter and less sweet versions. If you're looking for the sweetest tasting cognac then we recommend a younger one.

Is cognac served with ice? ›

There is no specific way to drink cognac, it can be enjoyed neat, with ice, with water, with a mixer or in a co*cktail. It is all up to personal preference. Is cognac served warm or cold? Traditionally cognac is served at room temperature and warmed in the hand.

What is better VS or VSOP? ›

VS stands for Very Special and only eaux-de-vie at least two years old can be used to make a VS Cognac. Other denominators and expressions are permitted in this class, such as "3 stars" or "luxury". VSOP stands for Very Superior Old Pale. VSOP cognacs are created from eaux-de-vie aged for at least four years.

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