Whenever I have to talk about brandy or cognac I have the certainty that someone will not be happy with my words. But let’s try. We agree that cognac is a type of brandy that is distilled twice and that comes from white grapes which origin is close to the French city with the same name, Cognac. But then what is the brandy? And which type of brandy is brandy Napoleon?
Brandy is nothing but a type of spirit obtained from the distillation of wine (although there are brandy varieties that can include cereal or other fruits besides grapes in the process). It is not true that brandy can only come from outside France as a cognac replacement. In fact there are many French brands of brandy.
There is a fact that makes explanations about each other even more confusing, as there was a time when French distilleries used the name “Napoleon” to refer to their best cognac. Even despite that when today we buy Napoleon usually what we are buying is brandy. Take that.
The point is that in the end they decided to unify criteria and instead of using names like Napoleon or Lepanto (which today is also a brandy brand, such are the twists and turns of life) they agreed to use acronyms like OX, VS or VSOP.
Coinciding with the time, more or less, many brands of brandy decided to name their products Napoleon, as a symbol of prestige and quality, in reference to these exclusive cognacs of French origin.
The truth is that in those first moments of designations transition, spirits marketing and confusion everything happened. There was very good brands that were marketed under that name and there were also some others not so good which were called exactly the same.
However, time has proved right to the top, they are the ones who have been able to endure and have had the support of consumers. For example, in Spain we have the example of Gonzalez Byass, who since 1835 has been dedicated to the world of wines and spirits.
Their products are synonym for quality and that is the reason why this family business is already a large group responsible for brands like Tio Pepe or Viñas del Vero, regarding wine, but also Lepanto or Napoleon, in what refers to brandy.