About 80 miles or so north of Bordeaux lie the two picture-postcard towns of Cognac and Jarnac, the heart of the Cognac industry. The region, stretching from La Rochelle in the north to Royan in the west and Angoulème in the east, is home to nearly 6,000 grape growers who supply white wine for distillation, predominantly made with the Ugni Blanc variety (aka Trebbiano).

These wines are characterised by high acidity and low alcohol – not something you’d particularly want to drink as they are, but perfect for distillation, which takes place (twice) in copper stills, or alembics. The eau-de-vie is then aged in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels; the latter has a tighter grain, and imparts fewer tannins than the powerful Limousin, making it better suited to maturing Cognacs for longer. Finally, the spirit is usually cut with water to 40% abv.

We've compiled eight fun facts below about Cognac to get you started on your journey of discovery. 

  • Cognac is mainly distilled from wine made with the Ugni Blanc grape
  • 10 litres of wine to produce 1 litre of Eau-de-Vie for Cognac
  • The most expensive Cognac is an 1858 Cuvee Leonie from Croizet, sold in 2011 for £101,000.
  • Cognac categories indicate the ageing period: VS Very Special (min 2 years); VSOP Very Superior Old Pale (min 4 years); XO Extra Old (min 6 years).
  • The Cognac region is divided into six Crus - the two finest are: Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne.
  • 14 million litres of Cognac are lost each year to the angel's share (by evaporation).
  • There are 6,000 growers in Cognac, supplying grapes and eau-de-vie to producers.
  • Cognac brands Remy Martin, Courvoisier and Hennessy have all been namechecked in hip-hop tracks.
  • The most expensive Cognac is an 1858 Cuvee Leonie from Croizet, sold in 2011 for £101,000.
  • 2017 Key Figures for Cognac Part 1
  • 2017 Key Figures for Cognac Part 2

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