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Difference Between Whiskey and Cognac

There are several types of drinks in the market that vary based on the aroma, taste, and flavor not to mention the place of production. This has led different brands and names, which can be overwhelming, hence making it difficult to choose the right drink for a certain occasion. Whiskey and cognac are examples of popular drinks that are often confused, despite having an alcohol percentage of between 40% and 60%.

 

What is Whiskey?

With an origin of Scotland, this is a distilled alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented grain mash such as wheat, rye, barley, and corn grain. It is then aged in wooded casks. The distillation process dates back to the Greeks in the 3rd century AD whereby alcohol was distilled for. The fists alcohol distillation took place thereafter whereby alcohol was distilled from wine. It was originally used for fragrance purposes and later used for medicinal purposes.

Whiskey does not age once it’s out of the barrel. It’s for this reason that it does not become stronger when bottled, irrespective of the period taken before it’s opened.

Various different types of whiskey differ in terms of alcoholic content, base product, and quality. The two major types of whiskey include;

  • Malt whiskey- Made from malted barley
  • Grain whiskey- Made from any type of grain

The two are further classified into;

  • Single malt whiskey- This is made from a mash that specifically uses one type of malted grain, and is from a single distillery
  • Blended malt whiskey- This is a blend of malt whiskies prepared in different distilleries
  • Blended whiskies- This is whiskey made from a mixture of grain and malt whiskies along with caramel, neutral spirits, and flavoring.
  • Cask strength- These are rare as they are bottled directly from the cask, hence undiluted.
  • Single cask- This is whiskey from an individual cask that has the cask number labeled on the bottle.

 

What is Cognac?

This is a type of brandy that is originated and is produced in the town of Cognac, France. It is made from selected types of green grapes. In instances where the label carries the name of the crus, 90% of the grapes used must be Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche while 10% can be Jurancon blanc, Folignan, Select, Semillon, Meslier St-Francois and Montils.  The only regions authorized to make cognac include Bon Bois, Bois Ordinaire, Petite Champagne, Grand Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois.

Official quality grades of cognac are widely recognized by the labels;

  • V.S (very special) – This is cognac that has been stored for at least two years, and is the youngest.
  • V.S.O.P (very superior old pale) – This is cognac that is stored for at least four years in a cask, but the wood age is greater
  • X.O (extra old) – This is a blend which is stored from 6 to 20 years.

 

Similarities between Whiskey and Cognac

  • All are fermented drinks, and convert sugar to ethanol
  • They are aged in wooded barrels, and the longer they age, the smoother they become

 

Differences between Whiskey and Cognac

Base product

While the base product in whiskey is grain, the base product in cognac is grape.

Age terms

While whiskey uses number of years to show the exact age of its contents such as 3, 5 or 10, cognac uses the terms V.S, V.S.O.P, and X.O to show the age of the contents. 

Distillation

Whiskey undergoes the distillation process once. On the other hand, cognac undergoes the distillation process twice.

Minimum age

While whiskey has a minimum age of 3 years and could be as old as 15 years, cognac has a minimum age of 2 years and could be as old as 20 years.

Area of production

While whiskey can be produced internationally, cognac is only produced in Cognac, France.

Whiskey vs. Cognac: Comparison Table

 

Summary of Whiskey vs. Cognac

While whiskey and cognac have differences based on base products, maturity period, origin and place of production, both remain popular drinks worldwide. The major difference between the two remains in the base product, whereby the base product in whiskey is grain while the base product in cognac is grape. While people’s preferences may differ, alcohol should be consumed responsibly.

 

Tabitha Njogu

Tabitha graduated from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce, whereby she specialized in Finance. She has had the pleasure of working with various organizations and garnered expertise in business management, business administration, accounting, finance operations, and digital marketing.

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References :


[0]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cognac_Russian_%22Saradzhev%22.jpg

[1]Image credit: https://pixabay.com/de/photos/whisky-jim-beam-bourbon-whiskey-461872/

[2]How it Works: Science and Technology, Volume 16. Marshall Cavendish Publishers, 2003. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=TyMEEI6-LH4C&pg=PA2217&dq=Difference+between+whiskey+and+cognac&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqtqHjjKXiAhUEWxoKHdfdBsgQ6AEIODAD#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20whiskey%20and%20cognac&f=false

[3]Luntz Perry. Whiskey and Spirits For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, 2011. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=oJdRxl7-l4QC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Difference+between+whiskey+and+cognac&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqtqHjjKXiAhUEWxoKHdfdBsgQ6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20whiskey%20and%20cognac&f=false

[4]Dikty A & Owens B. The Art of Distilling Whiskey and Other Spirits: An Enthusiast's Guide to the Artisan Distilling of Potent Potables. Quarry Books Publishers, 2009. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=SEWbCwAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Difference+between+whiskey+and+cognac&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwij9Z6sjaXiAhUKWxoKHcheBV44HhDoAQgyMAI#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20whiskey%20and%20cognac&f=false

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