When comparing brandy, the best way to compare it is with another brandy drink. Arguably the best brandy available is Cognac. It has a rich deep taste that is sweet that draws through the throat. Cognac is one of the two most popular French-made brandy, the other being Armagnac. Cognac is a region in the West of France near the coast.
The reason why Cognac is considered to be the best brandy in the world is because of the way it is distilled. It undergoes a process of double distillation, which happens in pot stills and aged casks made from a very specific type of oak wood called Troncais Oak. The Cognac brandy is a mixture of different vintages and come from various growing zones in France. It is very hard to distinguish the true age of the Cognac because of the unique mixture of Brandies from different casks. The reason for this is that Cognac Houses in France sources its grapes from local independent suppliers, usually farms owned by local residents. Once they have collected the local produce, they store these in vats or casks indiscriminately.
Hence, the best brandy in the world is not measured by age or vintage, but by the flavor and texture. However, to facilitate the differences in the quality and make of the brandy, the Cognac industry came up with its own classification of the brandy. the V.S.P. classification which means Very Superior Pale, is a type of Cognac that has been aged in a cask for three to five years. The minimum industry standard for the storage of brandy in a cask is 2 years. The second classification is the V.S.O.P. which means Very Superior Old Pale. Brandy drinks with this classification are the most desired kinds, because it is guaranteed that these Cognacs have been aged in a cask for at least 15 years. The other classification is the X.O., which means Extra Old. The X.O. is understood to have been aged in a cask for at least six years.
The Armagnac brandy is made from the Southwestern region of France, and is altogether a different kind from the Cognac. It differs from the Cognac in distilling process and storage. It is distilled from wines that are specifically of the Ugni Blanc, Colombo, and Baco kind. Rather than using pot stills, Armagnac uses column stills for storage. The difference from Cognac is that Armagnac brandy is more bold and assertive. Compared to the Cognac, it has a deeper and stronger taste that requires toning down, which is achieved only by cask aging. Nevertheless, Cognac brandy is still considered strong and powerful, but not as powerful and distinct as the Armagnac brandy.
Finally, Armagnac brandy can be classified based on vintages. People can buy bottles of Armagnac that are single vintages or those coming from single vineyards. However, there are also Armagnac that are blended like the Cognac, but the blends tend to be of older vintage. Blended Armagnac are also classified in the same categories of the Cognac.