Angels fly over the town.
"O temps, suspends ton vol" Lamartine
The Angel's share
Only a long period of maturing in oakwood casks allows an eau-de-vie to become a Cognac.
The oak wood, quite porous, keeps the Cognac in permanent contact with the naturally humid or dry air of the cellars while losing some of its alcoholic content. This evaporation leaves a dark hallow over the walls of the town, poetically called 'The Angels Share'.
Finally, the 'oxidation' gives the eau-de-vie its final bouquet and golden shade.
Ageing cellars – Casks
Patience and method.
Ageing takes place in casks that hold between 270 to 450 litres of eau-de-vie.
The natural humidity of the cellars in which the casks are stored, with its influence on evaporation, is one of the determining factors in the ageing process.
Maturing Cognac may last decades, and is made possible thanks to the wood’s porosity. It allows indirect contact between the spirit in the casks and the air outside.
With time, the transfer of the natural characteristics of the oak gradually produces «rancio» aromas and develops the bouquet of Cognac.
Cognac ages exclusively in oak casks traditionally from the Tronçais and Limousin forests.These two varieties of oak were selected because of their hardness, porosity and extractive characteristics.
The Tronçais forest, in Allier, provides softer, finely grained wood, which is particularly porous to alcohol.
The tanins in Tronçais oak are famous for their softness, whereas those in Limousin oak are known for the power and balance they communicate to Cognac. An eau-de-vie will extract more tanins when it is aged in casks made with Limousin oak.
Most eaux de vie stay first in new casks, then are transfered in old casks.
Old eaux de vie stay in older casks that will not bring tanins.
Each Cognac house stores its oldest Cognacs in demi-johns ('Dame Jeanne') in remote cellars known as 'Paradise'.
Tiffon's 'Dame Jeanne'