Brandy has long been used for medicinal purposes, both internally and externally. We read that it was often used in Nelson’s Navy as an antiseptic, sometimes as an anaesthetic and even before then, as a digestif to sooth the effects of eating too much or too rich food.
A ‘digestif’, taken after a meal to aid digestion, is widely regarded as a means of reducing discomfort. Indeed, good cognac, if consumed in moderation has many health benefits. Cognac contains antioxidants which can lower cholesterol levels in the blood, thus helping to keep the heart healthy. According to Lybrate, the online medical service, cognac contains polyphenol compounds which help to reduce inflammation in the cardiovascular system resulting in lower blood pressure. Unlike other alcoholic drinks, pure cognac such as Hermitage, does not contain any carbohydrates. It does not cause bloating and can be safely enjoyed, knowing that it cannot be converted into fat. However, the same cannot be said of commercially blended generic brandies which contain additives, such as sugar. It has been proven that cognac also has excellent anti-inflammatory properties making it effective in relieving respiratory issues and improving heart health. The absence of carbohydrates can help in weight management and its antioxidant properties are said to assist anti-ageing.
When Admiral Lord Nelson was killed at Trafalgar they brought him home in a barrel of brandy, I still give him a wink as I go past his column in Trafalgar Square and I will now ensure I take a small measure as my digestif every evening.