Cognac, named after the town of Cognac in France, is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name.
For a brandy to bear the name Cognac, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements. In particular, it must be made from specified grapes, of which Ugni Blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used. The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Troncais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.
Brandy is a spirit produced by distilling wine. Brandy generally contains 35–60% alcohol by volume (70–120 US proof). Some brandies are aged in wooden casks, some are coloured with caramel colouring to imitate the effect of aging, and some brandies are produced using a combination of both aging and colouring.