Eau-de-Vie becomes Cognac
From the angel’s share to the Paradise
After the distillation,eaux-de- vie are put in oak barrels for minimum two years, often more.
The exchange between the oak and the eau-de-vie allaws eau-de-vie to develop its colour and aromas… The eau-de-vie becomes increasingly mellow, the bouquet richer and the taste less sharp, the flavour known as “rancio” appears. It is characterised by notes of mushrooms, damp undergrowth and walnut oil—complex and specific aromas that develop during the long barrel ageing and increase in intensity with the years.
Then, it is a question of atmosphere : oak allows the eau-de-vie is still in contact with air, sometimes moist, sometimes dry of the cellarsand it will lose little by little its alcohol and volume. The natural evaporation, known as the angels’share, depends on the humidity of the cellars : in a dry cellar evaporation mainly affects the volume, with loss of water and the eaux-de-vie are drier and have more character ; in a humid cellar (relative moisture level between 90 and 100%), evaporation mainly affects the alcohol, eaux-de-vie are mellow and round.
Once an eau-de-vie has reached maturity, the Cellar Master – also known as Master Blender – determines to halt the ageing process. He/she transfers them to glass containers called “dame-jeanne”, where they will rest protected from the air for many decades without developing further, the ageing process no longer operates in glass.