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Cognac Grande Champagne et Pineau des Charentes depuis 1965...

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The Angel’s Share

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Do you know the Angel’s Share, this natural evaporation of alcoholic beverages?

The Angels’ share is the sweet name given to the natural evaporation of eaux-de-vie.

The principle of ageing spirits (in barrels of course!) is to allow the precious beverage to improve through the exchange between the alcohol and the wood in the barrel. By allowing the alcohol to age, you allow it to develop new aromas but also to acquire a darker colour, absorbing in particular the tannins from the wood and oxidising little by little with the air in the cellar.

Coming back to the angels’ share, each year of ageing, cognac loses up to 6% of its volume (usually 2/3%). This volume simply leaves the barrel by evaporation, through the staves or through the bung.

The only solution to avoid this evaporation would be to place the eau-de-vie in an airtight container, such as stainless steel, but the qualitative exchange with the wood would therefore not exist.

In addition to the general volume of the brandy, the angels also take pure alcohol, rarely more than 0.5% per year.

To sum up :
Each year, each barrel loses 2 to 6% of its volume.
& 0.1% to 0.5% pure alcohol.

The difference in loss can be explained in particular by the temperature of the cellars and their humidity. Compared to the temperature, it is not uncommon to find in the rum regions an evaporation of around 8% of the volume per year.
It is also said that a dry cellar evaporates the volume but less the alcohol, whereas a wet cellar evaporates the alcohol but less the volume.
In terms of aromas, the dry cellar dries the eau-de-vie and gives it character, whereas the wet cellar makes the drinks round and mellow.
Here at Forgeron, our cellars follow the ambient temperature, neither too humid nor too hot, taking advantage of the coolness of the old stone buildings.

There are no real calculations, it all remains hypothetical and depends greatly on the outside temperature and humidity. The most efficient way to measure its evaporation is to measure the volume remaining in each barrel every year.

To get an idea, Cognac comes out at a maximum of 72,4% alcohol, to reach 40% (i.e. the T.A.V. generally practised at the time of sale), you have to wait, in theory :
Minimum (-0.1%/year): 325 years old
Maximum (-0.5%/year): 65 years old

A barrel of Cognac generally contains 350L of product, in addition to the alcoholic evaporation, the volume will also evaporate each year, from 2 to 6%. Waiting for the natural evaporation of the alcohol, a certain volume will also evaporate. On average, this evaporation is 4% per year.

From 72.4% to 40% in 65 years
= 25.67L remaining (i.e. 7.33% of the initial volume)

From 72.4% to 40% in 325 years
= 0.00063L remaining (i.e. 0.0002% of the initial volume)
(Calculated on an average of 4% annual evaporation - initial volume of 350L.).

This strong evaporation notably explains the price of the oldest eaux-de-vie! In addition to their different organoleptic qualities, due to the development of rancio charentais.

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