Cognac is that rare brown spirit made from grapes rather than grain, and specifically, it is made most typically from the Ugni Blanc varietal. Unlike its French cousins that are bottled as wine, Cognac begins as a white wine but is then distilled twice in copper-pot stills to become eau de vie, which extends its life —, both in the barrel and in the decanter—and imparts bouquets and flavors more comparable to whisky than to wine.
The tradition of distilling wine into Cognac began with the Dutch in the 1500s, who sought superior ways to preserve the wine they wished to transport from France to their own country. Cognac is technically a brandy, a distilled wine, and can only be considered a Cognac if its grapes are grown and the spirit is distilled in one of five designated appellations, and under strict regulations.
Here we offer up five special Cognacs released this year and ready to be sipped as the air cools to crisp autumn evenings.