Russia's cognac region adding whiskey

If most people know of the Russian Federation's North Caucasus republic of Daghestan at all, is is for its cognacs. Now, a spokesman for the republic's Industry Ministry said it is planning to open a whisky distillery.

Alibek Irazikhanov, director general of the Whisky of Russia company, said the first batch of whisky from the distillery will go on sale in Russia in three years.

"The estimated cost of the project, which should be recouped in three years, is 220 million rubles ($9.4 million)," he said, noting that $2.15 million already has been invested in the project.

The cognacs of the region -- even though the French have for generations tried to get its makers to stop using the name "cognac" in defference to the French region and product of that name -- have long been known for their quality. In just one example, the English writer and adventurer Arthur Augustus Thurlow Cunynghame wrote in his 1872 chronicle "Travels in the Eastern Caucasus, on the Caspian and Black Seas":

"In my opinion ... there is really no good wine made in the Crimea, or on the Don, or in the Caucasus. ... The cognac brandy, however, which is also made here, is by no means a bad imitation of the genuine French article."

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