What is the difference between cognac and scotch?

In this brief article, we are going to answer the question,”What is the difference between cognac and scotch?”, and discuss what cognac and scotch are, and how they are made.

What is the difference between cognac and scotch?

The difference between cognac and scotch is that cognac is made from grapes whereas scotch is made from malted barley. 

Cognac is sweeter than scotch and is made from wines which are fruit based, whereas scotch is made from grains. 

What is cognac?

Cognac is a type of an alcoholic beverage which is produced from the distillation of wine, made from grapes. It is basically a wine which is very concentrated. The term cognac can be used only if it is made either in the Cognac city or in the Cognac Region of France.

Cognac has to undergo distillation two times to be termed as a true cognac, Ageing of cognac requires long time periods, almost up to a century. The classification of cognac depends on the ageing period:

  1. Very Special – requires 2 years of ageing
  2. Very Special Old Pale- aged for 4 years
  3. Extra Old – Ageing period is 10 years

Cognac has a fruity flavour and is served in tulip glasses to reveal the flavours when warmed by hand. Cognac served cold reveals the spices and flavour of wooden barrels. When the tulip glasses are warmed by the heat of hands, the wine is shined with fruity flavours.

How is cognac made?

Cognac is made in the following stages:

  1. The grapes undergo the harvesting stage as the summer ends. They are pressed in vine growers and the juices are naturally fermented for seven days to convert the sugars in grape into alcohol or wine.
  2. The wine is distilled twice.
  3. The final product is separated into 3 parts: head, heart and tail and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 2 and a half years. 

What is scotch?

Scotch is a type of alcoholic beverage, made from the distillation of beer. Beer is formed from the grain mash, and the grain used is malted barley which goes through a process of fermentation and then distillation. Scotch has originated from Scotland and is also known as whiskey. 

Scotch is aged after fermentation and distillation, and the classification of scotch is dependent on the ageing time period, just like cognac. The flavour of scotch is earthy complemented by the wooden flavour from wooden barrels in which they are aged.

How is scotch made?

Scotch is made in the following stages:

  1. Malting – where the barley is cleaned when soaked in a water tank for 2-3 days. The seeds are then allowed to germinate where the enzymes are released to convert the starch in barley to sugar. The barley is then sent to a kiln for the drying process
  1. Mashing – The barley which is dried is grounded in a mill to form a grist. The grist is blended in a mash tun with the addition of hot water and the starch is converted to sugar and converted to a liquid known as wort. The solid residues and by products are filtered and used a s animal feeds
  1.  The yeast is added to the mash for the process of fermentation to convert the sugars to alcohol. The products of fermentation also include a liquid known as wash which is obtained after 48 hours containing low strength alcohol.
  1. The liquid undergoes heating and is converted to vapour. The vapour is allowed to rise in a condenser, and the condenser converts the vapours back into liquid. This process is made to occur twice and is known as distillation.

In the first distillation, the unfermentable matter is removed. In the second distillation, the whiskey has to be run until it has reached the desired standard and is collected in a receiver.

  1. Scotch then undergoes maturation which takes 15 years or more. After maturation, the scotch can be blended with other whiskeys for creating an additional flavour.


In this brief article, we answered the question,”What is the difference between cognac and scotch?”, and discussed what cognac and scotch are, and how they are made.



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.