Cognac (commune)

Cognac is a unique spirit in that it is double-distilled. This process can be viewed in one of the many "Grande Marque" Cognac houses which all have visitor centres. Most central in the town are Hennessy, Martell, Otard, Camus and Remy Martin. About 15 km (9 mi) east of Cognac is Jarnac, home to Courvoisier.

Different qualities of Cognac are produced by all brands, and include VS ("Very Special"); VSOP ("Very Superior [or, more commonly, "Special", though the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac specifies "Superior"] Old Pale") and XO ("eXtra Old"). (English terms are still used, since in the early days of Cognac production it was the British who were the main consumers and also became some of the main producers of Cognac, using techniques acquired from the distillation of whisky, etc.) These are controlled by the length of time the Cognac is allowed to mature in oak barrels, a minimum time being required at each grade level. The longer the Cognac matures in the barrel the smoother it will generally become. Once it is bottled no further development takes place. Most houses still have barrels of Cognac dating back to the 19th century sitting in their cellars waiting for fine blending by the Cellar Master.