Cognac: distillation time

Published the 02/03/2020 in Food & Wine

The Cognac is a renown spirit which is produced in a small town of the same name, in the South-West of France. It’s situated only a two hours ride from Bordeaux and a day in Cognac can be a perfect addition to your stay in this city.

Winter is a crucial period for the great Houses of Cognac because It’s distillation time. We can even sense it in the air when we are approaching the region. Why this period is so important and how the distillation goes, let’s find out together!


The Cognac is produced from white wine coming from this region. And it’s thanks to distillation that it becomes a spirit. It’s interesting to know that the process of distillation hasn’t been changed since the birth of Cognac in XVIIth century!

The device for distillation is called an alembic Charentais (the pot still from Charente). It’s completely made of copper. This alembic is composed of boiler followed-up by hat and then a swan’s neck which transforms into a coil (or worm) passing through a condenser.

Alembic Charentais

There are two steps of distillation:

During the first step wine is introduced into the boiler and boiled. This process frees alcohol vapors concentrated in the hat. The most volatile vapors go into swan’s neck and then into the coil. After the contact with cold water vapors condense and become liquid. This liquid is called “brouillis” and it contains from 27 to 32% of alcohol.

During the second chauffe the process is the same but instead of wine comes the brouillis. Only the heart of this distillation will be taken to make cognac. The result of this step contains from 60 to 75% of alcohol.

One liter of cognac is made of about ten liters of wine.

Distillerie de cognac


The distilled wine is then kept in oak barrels. To have right for the official name of cognac the spirit must age during at least two years. The most of cognacs ages for two years and half but some producers can make it to seven years.

This long moment allows spirit to pass from limpid to nice amber color.

Barriques en chêne

Every year some part of spirit vaporizes. They call this vaporization the Part of Angels et this is it that we can sense when we come to Cognac during the distillation time. The Part of Angels is a loss that allows a gain to make a perfect quality.


And if you desire to sense it yourself come to Cognac during winter. The weather is not so warm it’s true, but some cold makes this warming spirit even more interesting to taste.

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