Cognac is a variety of brandy named distilled in and shipped from the legally delimited area surrounding the town of Cognac in West-central France. The six French zones authorized to produce cognac are Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and finally Bois Ordinaire. Hennessy is the leading cognac brand, among four major producers of cognac worldwide. The other three major brands that engage in the production of cognac are Courvoisier, Martell, and Rémy Martin.
In cognac production, brandy is twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged for at least two years in French oak barrels, going through a similar maturation process as whiskey and wine. In 2016, consumption of brandy and cognac in the U.S. amounted to over 12.6 million 9 liter cases and volume sales for Moet Hennessy accounted for 26% of the years’ market share. For that same year, the import volume of brandy and cognac to the U.S. was approximately 13.43 millions of proof gallons. Cognac is typically differentiated in officially designated quality grades that include: V.S. (very special), V.S.O.P. (very superior old pale), XO (extra old), and Hors d’âge (beyond age).
The use of cognac in mixed drinks and cocktails has become commonplace across the globe and have thus been promoted as such by most manufacturers. Advertising expenditure for brandy and cognac in 2016 amounted to around 15.9 million U.S. dollars and some popularly served cocktails made with cognac include: Sidecar, Brandy Alexander, B & B, Chicago cocktail, and Horse’s Neck. The retail value of luxury cognac worldwide is projected to reach about 2,178 million U.S. dollars by 2020.
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