the job of the cellar master
The cellar master supervises the maturing of his brandies. It is he who decides to change the barrel, or where to place the barrel in the cellar to make his brandies more mellow or dryer.
If the volume of alcohol is too great when the spirit is bottled, he will reduce it, by progressively adding distilled water to bring it gradually to the desired volume of alcohol.
To bring the volume of alcohol down naturally to 45° will take around 60/70 years of maturing in a barrel in average ageing conditions.
The experience of the cellar master is crucial in obtaining the best cognacs and armagnacs by blending brandies of different ages and years (except in the case of vintage spirits where all the brandies come from the same year of harvesting). The cellar master is an artist, and the most experienced consumers will recognise the “hand of the master” in the best cognac or the best armagnac, which they choose for its excellence.