Barrels have been used in everyday life and production since ancient times. Wooden barrels have been widely used, especially in the beverage industry to store alcoholic beverages. Oak barrels are the most suitable for storing drinks as oak wood preserves the aroma and taste of the drink. For this very reason, elite and expensive drinks are preserved in oak barrels.
At the Avshar wine factory, cognac is aged exclusively in the traditional barrel method. In the factory, only own-made barrels are used for cognac aging. Modern craftsmen can make exact replicas of the barrels our ancestors produced, which is not such an easy task. It is a whole art.
The Art of Making Barrels
Making a barrel for cognac aging requires not only skill but also long-term drying of the wood. According to Samvel Movsisyan, head of the laboratory of the Avshar wine factory, experienced masters can make a barrel for storing and aging cognac in one day, if the wood for the barrel has been properly processed beforehand.
Cognac aging barrels are made only from oak wood. The oak must be at least 50-100 years old. Only after two years of drying in an open-air warehouse, it is possible to begin the barrel-making process. The dried wood must be machined, assembled on a metal frame, bent, edged, and polished. Barrels are made without using a single nail.
The Art of Cognac Aging, “Angels’ Portion”
It takes patience to have a finished barrel and to age cognac.
Oakwood creates some unique flavors in cognac, including vanilla. Remaining in an oak barrel, cognac acquires an incredibly beautiful amber color, unique taste, and delicate aroma. In the first years of aging, the characteristics of cognac alcohol change; it gets darker in color and the flavor becomes softer.
Oak barrels breathe, so the alcohol in the barrels is constantly evaporating. During the aging process, part of the alcohol evaporates through the pores of the wood. The French cognac makers called the evaporated part of alcohol part des anges, which means “part of the angels”.
Every year, about 4 percent of cognac alcohol evaporates from each barrel.
This is the reason why cognac is one of the most expensive drinks, and the older the cognac is, the higher its value gets. After all, it has a long and difficult path, with “losses”, and as a result, it becomes a more refined and noble drink.