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Escorted Rail Tours to Cognac

Sample France's finest brandy

Cognac, the medieval town that bears the name of the region, is an attractive destination with narrow cobbled streets and elegant Renaissance façades. The town owes its size and historical wealth to King Francois I, who granted Cognac a licence to trade in salt. Today, many of the houses in the town bear the symbol of King Francois - a salamander - which is carved into the building façade.

The medieval Old Town is a narrow maze of cobbled streets, surrounded by beautiful 15th to 18th century buildings and a number of brandy-maturing warehouses. Many of the older houses hare half-timbered, while the more recent houses in the Old Town are made from local white stone.

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It is in the town of Cognac that the fabled Cognac brandy has been created since the 17th century - the heavy scent of spirits evaporating from oak casks held in storage is unmistakable and fills the air throughout much of the town. This unique aroma is referred to as the "angels' share".

For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, an 'Appellation d'origine contrôlée', it must come from the region surrounding the town of Cognac and its production methods must conform to certain strict legal requirements. Most importantly, it must be made from specified grapes and must be twice distilled in copper pots before being aged for at least two years in oak barrels - most are matured for much longer.

The world-famous producers such as Camus, Hennessy, Niartell, Otard, Prince Hubert de Polignac, Rémy-Martin, Courvoisier, and Renault-Bisquit are located in Cognac; each distillery has its own secret and unique process for mixing the various blends of its eaux-de-vie.

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