Difference Between Whiskey and Cognac (With Table)

A wide range of alcoholic drinks is available in the market. Whiskey and cognac are quite popular alcoholic beverages among people worldwide. Apart from the alcoholic percentage, these two drinks also differ in other various aspects, including taste, aging, etc.

Whiskey vs Cognac

The difference between whiskey and cognac is that whiskey is made from the grain, and on the other hand, the cognac is composed of grapes. The whiskey and cognac are different from each other in several criteria, including the area of production, distillation, age terms, and more.

Whiskey is a variety of alcoholic beverage which is made from the fermentation of grains like barley malt, wheat, corn, and rye and then further stored in wooden containers for a minimum of three years. The cereal grain chooses for the preparation of whiskey will affect its flavor and taste.

Cognac is also an alcoholic beverage, but it is referred to as a type of brandy that originated in the cognac town of France. This drink is made from the fermentation of grapes. Only a selected variety of grapes are used in making the cognac. Only a few regions are authorized for making the cognac.

Comparison Table Between Whiskey and Cognac

Parameters of ComparisonWhiskeyCognac
ManufacturingWhiskey is prepared from the fermentation of cereal grains.Cognac is prepared from the fermentation of grapes.
DistillationThis alcoholic beverage undergoes a distillation process only one time.It undergoes a distillation process two times.
ProductionWhiskey can be produced or manufactured anywhere internationally.This alcoholic beverage is produced in France only.
Ageing SpanIt should be stored for at least three years and as old as 15 years.It should be stored for at least two years and as old as 20 years.
VarietiesScotch, Irish Whiskey, bourbon, etc. Very special (V.S), very special old pale (V.S.O.P), and extra old (X.O)

What is Whiskey?

Whiskey is an alcoholic drink that is made from the fermentation of cereal grains. After making this drink, it has been stored in a wooden container (which is mostly constructed of oak) for a minimum of three years. Whiskey can be as old as 15 years. The longer the aging, the smoother it becomes, and eventually, this affects the taste.

There are various types of whisky available in the markets worldwide. The categorization of whiskey depends on the cereal grain which is used in the manufacturing and their barrel age. Some of the popular types of whisky are described below:

  • Scotch
  • Canadian Whisky
  • Irish whisky
  • Japanese whisky
  • Bourbon

The commonly used cereal grains include rye, wheat, corn, barley, and oats. Each of these grains has its characteristics and sugar content level, which consequently affect the taste and variety of whisky. This alcoholic drink will have at least 40% alcohol. Every country has its procedure and regulations for making whiskey.

What is Cognac?

Cognac is a variety of brandy that is prepared from the fermentation of grapes. The name ‘Cognac’ is named after a town in France. After making this distilled liquor, it is stored for a minimum of two years. Only selected grapes are chosen for the manufacturing process of cognac.  

Varieties are available in cognac, which depends on the aging span, and eventually, it will affect the taste and flavor of cognac. This alcoholic beverage can be:

  • Very special (V.S.), this is the youngest cognac which is stored for a minimum of two years.
  • Very superior old pale (V.S.O.P.), this cognac variety is stored for a minimum of four years, and the wood barrel in which it is stored must be greater in age.
  • Extra old (X.O.), this cognac is stored for at least six years or more. 

There are few regions that are considered as authorized to prepare cognac, and this includes Fins Bois, Petite Champagne, Bon Bois, Borderies, and Bois Ordinaire. The alcohol percentage of cognac is at least 40%.

Main Differences Between Whiskey and Cognac

  1. Whiskey and cognac are quite popular alcoholic beverages available worldwide. The alcoholic percentage of these liquor may vary between 40% to 60%, but surely they have at least 40% alcohol. But the taste and characteristics of whiskey and cognac are different as they are manufactured from different products. Whiskey is prepared from cereal grains, and cognac is made from grapes.
  2. Alcoholic beverages or liquor are available worldwide and also manufactured in various parts of the world. Whiskey can be prepared anywhere internationally, but on the other hand, cognac is only prepared in France because it is originated from a town of France, name ‘Cognac.’
  3. As the manufacturing procedure is concerned, distillation is essential for both of these liquor. Whiskey undergoes the distillation process only once, but the cognac undergoes the distillation process two times.
  4. Storing liquor in a wooden barrel is a part of the preparation. These wooden barrels are usually made from oak. Whiskey and cognac are stored in a wooden barrel for a minimum fixed time. Whiskey is stored for at least three years, and cognac is stored for a minimum of two years.
  5. The varieties or types of whiskey usually depend on the country or region in which it is prepared. For instance, scotch is made in Scotland, Canadian whiskey in Canada, Bourbon in the U.S.A., etc. On the contrary, the variety of cognac particularly depends on the aging of the liquor because it is prepared specifically in France.


Whiskey and cognac are alcoholic beverages that are prepared from different products. Both of these liquor have different characteristics and tastes. Whiskey is the result of fermenting cereal grains, while cognac is a type of brandy made from grapes. The mechanism of preparing these drink is same, as both whiskey and cognac are fragmented alcoholic drinks and usually converts the sugar to ethanol.

The aging period of whiskey and cognac is different, but both of these liquor are stored in wooden barrels. The longer they are stored, the smoother they become, and their taste will change respectively. We can conclude that whiskey and cognac have their taste, and tasting these alcoholic beverages require skills to better understand the flavor notes.


  1. https://www.bmj.com/content/309/6970/1686?eaf&eaf
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0924224498000247

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