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J Agric Food Chem. 2017 Sep 6;65(35):7736-7748. doi: 10.1021/acs.jafc.7b02406. Epub 2017 Aug 25.

Evolution of Volatile Compounds during the Distillation of Cognac Spirit.

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UMR 782 Génie et Microbiologie des Procédés Alimentaires (GMPA), AgroParisTech, INRA, Université Paris-Saclay , F-78330 Thiverval-Grignon, France.
UMR 1145 Ingénierie Procédés Aliments, AgroParisTech, INRA, Université Paris-Saclay , 1 av. des Olympiades, F-91300 Massy, France.
Station Viticole du BNIC , 69 rue de Bellefonds, F-16100 Cognac, France.
Fondation Jean Poupelain, 30 rue de Gatechien, F-16100 Javrezac, France.


Cognac wine spirit has a complex composition in volatile compounds which contributes to its organoleptic profile. This work focused on the batch distillation process and, in particular, on volatile compounds specifically produced by chemical reactions during the distillation of Cognac wine spirit, traditionally conducted in two steps with charentais pot stills. The aim of this study was to characterize these volatile compounds formed during distillation. Sampling has been performed on the distillates and inside the boiler during a typical Cognac distillation. The analysis of these samples allowed us to perform a mass balance and to point out several types of volatile compounds whose quantities strongly increased during the distillation process. These compounds were distinguished by their chemical family. It has been found that the first distillation step was decisive for the formation of volatile compounds. Moreover, 2 esters, 3 aldehydes, 12 norisoprenoids, and 3 terpenes were shown to be generated during the process. These results suggest that some volatile compounds found in Cognac spirit are formed during distillation due to chemical reactions induced by high temperature. These findings give important indications to professional distillers in order to enhance the product's quality.


Cognac spirit; chemical reactivity; pot still batch distillation; volatile compounds

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