b'S P I R I T SWELL, WHAT IS COGNAC?C O G N A C , B R A N D Y & A R M A G N A CCognac is to brandy what Champagne is to sparkling wine, explains Paul Wilkins, Inn Express Purchasing Director. It simply means that the particular brandy known as Cognac is, made in a specific region of France following specific rules to guarantee its quality. The Cognac region is in western France, north of Bordeaux, with one border on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.Beyond Champagne to sparkling wine, theres another easy comparison as well. I frequently explain to people the difference between bourbon and whiskey, namely that bourbon is a type of whiskey, says Wilkins. I similarly try to explain to people that Cognac is a type of brandy.Despite itss heritage Cognac does not need to be sipped neat. Of course, traditional libations such as the Sidecar and Vieux Carr are made with Cognac, so the spirits cocktail heritage is strong. Within Cognac, theres a broad range of styles, as there is within any other category of spirit, such as bourbon. For instance, half a dozen different sub-regions exist within Cognac, noted as offering different taste characteristics and overall quality levels. Cognac must be made from a specific selection of grapes, double distilledPetite Champagnein copper alembic stills and aged for(about 22% of production)a minimum of two years in French Limousin oak. Cognac is most oftenSimilar to Grande Champagne, but blended, utilizing grapes fromwithout the exceptional finesse. different regions, as well as barrelsThe soils here are similar to Grande of different ages. Theres also aChampagne, but the soft chalky areas hierarchy of quality for Cognac.Theseare deeper and less porous, which Hierachies are explained next. changes the way the plants receive nutrients. THE CRUS OF COGNAC Borderies (about 5% of production)Grande Champagne(about 17% of production) The smallest cru, which produces fine and round Eaux-de-vie, with the very Light Eaux-de-vie with thesmooth aroma of violets. predominant floral bouquet. Theyrequire long aging in oak to achieveFins Bois (about 43% of production) full maturity. The soils have soft chalk,Round, supple Eaux-de-vie that ages with outlying areas of more hardfairly quickly with an aroma of freshly limestone, sand, and clay.pressed grapes. 90 INN EXPRESS - DRINKS PORTFOLIO 2019|20 - COGNAC, BRANDY & ARMAGNAC'