Cognac has taken the world by storm, enjoyed by all, from Napoleon to Kanye West, there really is a cognac for every palate!
However, despite the versatility of the spirit and the endless options of brands and bottles that are available, it is natural that we are often asked ‘what is the best cognac to buy?’ Now, we could not possibly give you one simple answer to this question, so we have compiled a number of lists that should help you in your quest to find your ultimate cognac.
Keep reading, as we explore a selection of the best cognac in the world, within each age category
The popularity of cognac continues to climb and conquer the globe. Regarded as one of the most prestigious spirits available, some bottles have even sold for six-figure sums. But what makes this French delicacy so fashionable?
The vast majority of cognac is produced from quite an underwhelming grape, the Ugni Blanc. However, through the artistry of double distillation and the miracle of French oak, this rather average grape is transformed into one of the most versatile spirits there is.
Cognac is not just for sipping as a digestif by the fire anymore, it can be enjoyed in a multitude of ways and it is this diversity that makes it so popular with all manner of people around the world.
The key differences with most cognacs comes down to how long they have been aged for, falling into one of four categories: VS, VSOP, XO and the recent addition of XXO. With this in mind, it would be impossible for us to just mention one cognac, so keep reading as we explore a selection of the best cognac in the world, within each age category.
Best VS Cognacs
The first VS on our list has to be the timeless icon that is Hennessy’s Very Special Cognac. This bottle represents centuries of cognac in the making and is the signature piece from the world’s top cognac producer.
This classic cognac is produced using a blend of 40 different eaux-de-vie from across all the cognac regions and aged for between two and five years. Hennessy’s process is incredibly meticulous to ensure it delivers exquisite cognac time and time again. After distillation, only the best eaux-de-vie is selected during tasting sessions held by a committee of experts and blended by the cellar master. After blending, the cognac is aged in Limousin oak casks that have been left outside for several years, exposing them to the changing seasons to reduce bitter flavors and develop a natural vanilla sweetness.
Every tiny detail of Hennessy’s cognac production is deliberate and it certainly delivers, as arguably one of the most popular cognacs in the world. This is also an incredibly adaptable cognac that can be enjoyed straight from the bottle like Kanye does it, sipped from a tulip glass or as a base for both classic and modern cocktails.
Deau URB'N De Luxe
The second VS we think is worthy of a mention as one of the best cognacs out there, is this exciting offering from the innovative house of Deau. It’s the perfect choice to represent the new generation of cognac lover that we have seen take the industry by storm.
This invigorating VS cognac is characterised by unique notes of fresh mint and white rose, it has a refreshing yet smooth profile that makes it an appealing alternative to cognacs from some of the bigger and pricier houses.
The cognac is housed in a trendy take on the classic ‘tasting bottle’ style, which we think perfectly portrays its place as a cognac for the cool kids. We’re certainly not alone in our love for this VS; it was recognised as a best cognac 2019 in both the China Wine and Spirits Awards and the Spirits Selection by Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, where it received Double Gold and Gold respectively.
Best VSOP Cognacs
Remy Martin VSOP
Another iconic cognac on our list is Remy Martin’s VSOP, it might be an obvious choice but it’s a classic for a reason. This cognac is the epitome of master blending and harnesses Remy Martin’s signature style to deliver the true essence of cognac.
Remy Martin’s renowned VSOP is crafted from eaux-de-vie solely from the Fine Champagne region and aged for at least four years in Remy’s historic cellars. When sipping this legendary spirit, it should taste that bit sweeter knowing that the age denomination ‘VSOP Fine Champagne’ is in fact all down to the genesis of this very cognac.
This cognac was first created in 1927 and presents a harmonious marriage of ripe fruits, subtle notes of liquorice and delectable aromas of baked apple. The body is wonderfully structured and complex, with a divine silky texture. It’s no wonder that Remy’s VSOP has stood the test of time and continues to be awarded at the most prestigious competitions around the world.
This highly awarded VSOP from house Frapin has been crafted from Ugni Blanc grapes grown exclusively in the region of Grande Champagne. Distilled on the lees for a longer finish, this is a quintessential premier cru blend that possesses wonderful roundness and suppleness.
The Frapin House prides itself on its single-estate status, as every cognac is harvested, distilled and aged in its entirety at the Domaine, and it has been this way for a staggering 20 generations.
The house carefully controls every aspect of production and abstains from scientific methods, instead relying on age-old traditions.
This VSOP cognac is characteristic of its terroir, with delightful aromas of honey, gingerbread, hazelnut and a touch of vanilla. On the palate it is sweet, satisfying and long with lingering spice. Having received numerous awards over the years, this is an undeniably exquisite cognac that we recommend adding to your collection.
Best XO Cognacs
De Luze XO
A stunning example of a Fine Champagne cognac from the Boinaud Estate. The De Luze XO Cognac is a testament to their cognac house and this has been proven by the wealth of awards that it has picked up year after year.
This Extra Old cognac has been aged for on average, around 20 years, however the oldest eaux-de-vie in the blend comes from the harvest of 1980 on the family estate. It is a sublime offering from the De Luze Maison, and encapsulates the spirit of the house.
The multi-award-winning cognac has a bold and intense floral character to it, and unusually it is recommended to enjoy it on ice so as to draw out some of its subtler notes. Presented in a stylish decanter that speaks to the house’s recent modernisation, this voluptuous carafe and the liquid gold encased within it is worthy of a spot in any connoisseur’s collection.
Another Fine Champagne blend on our list is this XO from Audry, and this one is extra special. The Audry cognac house was founded in 1878, however it ceased selling cognac in the 1950s and instead kept a number of larger stocks in its cellars in the hope that one day Audry would rise again. Low and behold that day came, and Audry now dips into its precious Limousin and Tronçais oak casks, housed in its Paradis cellar, to carefully select rare and beautifully matured eaux-de-vie for limited release.
This XO cognac is a treasure that has been created from a blend of the original reserve and aged for an impressive 12 to 30 years. It presents a decadent toasted, creamy flavor on the palate with hints of dark toffee and almond. This is a luxurious and expressive cognac that should be sipped neat and savored.
Best XXO Cognacs
Hennessy makes a second appearance on our Best Cognac list, but how could we not give it its credit here when it was the cognac responsible for establishing the new XXO category. The official age category for XXO is 14 years or longer, however this cognac contains some eaux-de-vie aged for more than 50 years.
This cognac is a rich tapestry of Hennessy’s finest spirits, having been blended from a selection from the house’s vast chais; it's a true masterpiece and a must for any avid collector. Hennessy’s XXO was crafted by the seventh generation Cellar Master, Yann Fillioux, and offers notes of bitter orange, freshly grated nutmeg, liquorice, peppermint and delicate spices.
The final choice in our selection of the best quality cognac, is this XXO from Prunier which is also the first in its Family Series, and so only produced in very small quantities. The Prunier Cognac XXO Family Series Number 1, has been crafted from eaux-de-vie solely from the Fins Bois region and then aged in dark, humid cellars for at least 14 years.
This is an exceptionally rare cognac, with only 500 bottles having been produced for Mr Dale Cooper and his wine domain in Geelong, Australia. The alcohol content of this XXO has only been reduced naturally and over time, and there is no added sugar nor caramel, which adds to the exclusiveness of this bottle.
When tasting this unique cognac, you can detect the fine tannins on the palate, showing the long aging process it has gone through. Delicate and complex aromas of orange peel, cedar, almond and linden are present and these intermingle with notes of liquorice, nuts and hazelnut in the mouth.
This is a first-class cognac and a once in a lifetime opportunity should you have the chance to purchase it. Aromatic, complex and floral in nature, it is more than worthy of its place on our list.
So there you have it, Cognac-Expert’s answer to the much-asked question “what is the best cognac?”. With any, or all, of these exceptional bottles as part of your collection, you’re guaranteed to impress guests. The younger selections on our list are ideal for entertaining, and a fantastic go-to for cocktail parties; whilst the XOs and above we recommend saving for your nearest and dearest, or even enjoying on a quiet evening as a solo indulgence.
Cognac for beginners
One of the most popular questions posed to Cognac Expert is "what's the best Cognac for beginners?"
The start of a journey - any journey - is always exciting. So if you’re someone who is taking their first tentative steps along the road to cognac enlightenment, welcome! You’ve just entered a world of sensory ecstasy.
Now we know there must be a lot of you out there, eager to get stuck in, because one of the most popular questions posed to Cognac Expert is ‘what’s the best cognac for beginners?’
This question is not surprising, as when you’re a cognac newbie wanting to purchase a bottle, the thousands of options to choose from can be somewhat intimidating. You might think that you could educate yourself by taste testing in a bar or restaurant, but unfortunately the choices here are usually restricted to a VS or VSOP from one of the ‘big four’ (Hennessy, Remy, Martell or Courvoisier).
Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with a ‘big four’ cognac, we think it is important as a newcomer to the spirit that you are introduced to some of the other exceptional but smaller brands out there.
So keep on reading as we take you through some of our recommendations as to what is a good cognac to buy as a beginner.
Hine Rare VSOP
This Fine Champagne cognac is made from around twenty-five distinct eaux-de-vie from the Grande and Petite Champagne regions. Aged for between six and twelve years, it boasts vibrant aromas of roasted nectarines, apricots and melon, mixed with sophisticated notes of orange resin, oak and vanilla.
We love this VSOP as it doesn’t carry the harshness that is often associated with a youthful cognac, instead it is wonderfully smooth in the mouth with perfectly rounded flavors. Suitable for both tall, light cocktails, spirit mixers and sipping neat; this is definitely a best cognac to buy to begin with.
Marancheville XO Grand Champagne
This is a cognac that gives XOs from the big four houses a definite run for their money, and at a far more affordable price. This well-aged blend solely from the premier cru of Grande Champagne, showcases delicious tangy, nutty and woody flavors that often dominate the spicier cognacs.
Marancheville’s XO also features a wonderful rancio, a mysterious mushroomy, earthy flavor that you will come to recognise as you delve further into the world of cognac. It is only present in cognacs that have been considerably aged and it is extremely sought after.
Park Napoleon Borderies Cognac
This cognac falls into the unofficial age bracket of a Napoleon, which usually refers to a cognac that has been aged for an average of 20 years. We love this cognac as it is made from a blend of eaux-de-vie from the most exclusive of the growing regions, Borderies, and so offers the wonderful tones of violets that are so typical of this terroir.
The Park Napoleon Borderies provides a delicate taste experience and is exceptionally elegant on the palate. All of Park’s products are created in small batches, meaning the highest quality each and every time. This is a really easy drinking cognac and one that we recommend trying in a multitude of ways to experience the subtle taste alterations this brings.
Bache Gabrielsen American Oak
When Bache first introduced its American Oak in 2017, it was a truly innovative product and the first of its kind. This VSOP gets its magical touch thanks to the aging process being finished in Tennessee oak barrels which has led to a distinctly bourbon-esque taste experience.
The bourbon flavor combined with fruity, almost tropical aromas, makes for an extremely versatile cognac. This is a great choice to evolve your palate and knowledge of how different cask finishes have a direct influence on the final product.
We hope this guide of cognac for beginners has inspired you to begin your cognac journey, and don’t forget to keep us updated as you taste test your way through the endless eaux-de-vie options and work your way up to connoisseur status!
Best Cognac for the money
Settle in as we introduce you to some of the finest Cognac money can buy (within reason)
As one of the world’s most prestigious spirits, the price of cognac can sometimes be somewhat eye-watering. We love our eaux-de-vie as much as anyone, but even we couldn’t stretch to some of the six-figure sums that have been paid for bottles of cognac through the years.
However, there are also some spectacular cognacs that don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg and so we have taken it upon ourselves to present to you some of the best value cognac that you can indulge in.
As XO and above cognacs are deemed to be the best quality due to their extended aging, the following four bottles are all within this age category. That isn’t to say that we don’t enjoy a VS or VSOP, but they tend to be more affordable in general anyway.
So settle in as we introduce you to some of the finest cognac money can buy (within reason).
Frapin Chateau Fontpinot XO
This XO from Frapin not only received a Master medal for two consecutive years, but was also recognised as a best cognac for the money 2018 and 2019 by the judges at the Cognac Masters. It has also been highly-awarded at a string of other renowned spirits competitions around the world, so you can feel confident when parting with your hard-earned cash on this one.
This is a beautifully mature cognac, made entirely using eaux-de-vie from the Grande Champagne region and aged for over ten years in dry cellars. The result is a delectable bouquet of subtle and yet complex aromas of fruit, marzipan, hazelnut, nougat and rancio. This is a masterpiece from the pioneers at Frapin, who pride themselves on their art of blending vintage eaux-de-vie and use of sustainable practices.
At the given price, this is a true connoisseur’s cognac at an exceptionally reasonable price and certainly receives our seal of approval as having best cognac value for money.
Another cognac that has continued to claim medal after medal at global spirits competitions is Courvoisier’s XO, which has become somewhat of a trophy piece for one of the most coveted cognac producers.
Widely recognised as one of the best XO cognacs in the world, it is a profound blend of elegant eaux-de-vie from the Fine Champagne region, along with the complex and unique flavors and aromas found in the Borderies eaux-de-vie. The result is a decadent and voluptuous cognac that reveals many layers to experience.
Judges at the Cognac Masters said the expression of this cognac was a “clear example of what you get when you pay more for age and depth”. Whilst we agree with the sentiment, we have to say that at a modest price we think you are getting the best of both worlds in terms of price and flavor here.
This is a stand-out stylish cognac from Bacardi-owned brand, D’Ussé. Second in the D’Ussé line, this XO has been making waves in the award world since its inception in 2014 and we can see why.
Crafted from a hand-selection of only the finest eaux-de-vie of 10 years or more, it reveals sumptuous flavors of ripe blackberry, dark chocolate and walnut on the palate. Its presentation only adds to its extravagance; housed in a sleek jet black decanter, featuring the two barred cross emblem of D’Ussé, this cognac just oozes cool.
This XO comes in at a reasonable amount of money and we think for that price you’re not only gaining a taste sensation, but also a trendy centrepiece for your cognac collection.
Camus Borderies XO Family Réserve
The Camus Borderies XO Family Réserve is created exclusively using grapes grown on one single Borderies vineyard belonging to the Camus family. The family ensures that its vineyards are cultivated in a sustainable and ecologically sensitive way, in order to preserve the environment and wildlife.
Camus keeps its eau-de-vie separate prior to blending, allowing them to be distilled and aged in individual casks for at least 10 years. This meticulous process allows the Cellar Master to carefully fuse the eaux-de-vie after aging and the final result is an intensely aromatic, single-estate XO cognac.
Priced at just $225 and presented in a dazzling decanter with an accompanying presentation box we definitely think this carefully crafted Family Réserve cognac is worthy of the price tag.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this selection of exceptional cognacs that don’t break the bank, but please let us know if you have a favorite bottle that you think is missing off this list!
Best Cognac under 100$
Terroir actually means far more than simply the land or soil. It’s a unique description that describes both the geographical and the climatic conditions.
Although cognac has a reputation as being a rather luxurious spirit, it’s not always necessary to spend a fortune to get a very good cognac indeed. That is why we have compiled a list of the 10 best cognacs under $100, with the help of Sophie who undertook the ‘arduous’ task of sipping her way through a bunch of different eaux-de-vie.
You should enjoy these wonders neat, or perhaps on the rocks, to best savor their age and complexity.
Top 10 Cognacs under 100: Sophie's choice
We wanted to discover the oldest, highest quality cognacs available that didn’t exceed the ceiling of the $100 dollar bill. And, we must admit, we were pleasantly surprised as to how many XOs, Vielle Reserves, and even Hors d’Age made the grade. However there’s also a couple of great VSOPs that tick all the boxes.
From the might of Hennessy through to lesser-known brands such as De Luze, Paul Beau, and Paul Giraud, you’ll be amazed at what you can purchase and still get some change from $100 bucks. This is, we have to say, a pretty incredible selection of cognacs, and each will stand muster for even the most fastidious of palates.
XO Grand Cru Francois Voyer
A delightful 100% Grande Champagne XO Cognac from the experts at Francois Voyer. The eaux-de-vie is aged for the first three years in young oak casks before being transferred to older barrels. The humid cellars of this traditional cognac house provide the perfect environment for Mother Nature to work the miracles that occur during the aging process.
Bache Gabrielsen Réserve Pure & Rustic Grande Champagne Très Vielle Cognac
This Pure & Rustic cognac is about 40 years old, and a rare Très Vielle Réserve. Cellar Master Jean-Philippe Bergier selected and blended different cognacs from distillers of the Grande Champagne region, in partnership with “Bouilleur de Cru” families. Created from Ugni Blanc grapes, this Très Vieille Réserve is a limited edition, with only seven 350 litre barrels in existence.
Paul Giraud Vielle Réserve Cognac
Round, mellow and with to-die-for rancio, the Paul Giraud Vielle Réserve is a XO cognac from the premier terroir of Grande Champagne. This luxury was aged for around a quarter of a century before it was deemed ready to be bottled. We have to say, this really is a hidden champion, and one that represents extraordinarily good value for money.
De Luze VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac
De Luze has excelled itself with this rather delicious VSOP. A Fine Champagne blend, the eaux-de-vie are aged for around 12 years, with the oldest coming from the Bouinaud Estate harvest of 1989. This cognac has also been widely recognised with multiple Gold and Silver awards at international spirits competitions.
Bowen Napoléon Cognac
Bowen’s Napoleon is a delicious blend that comes from the much sought after terroir of Borderies. Well aged, it truly showcases the jasmine and violet aromas that this growth area is famed for. This is another cognac that really does offer exceptional value for money.
Hennessy VSOP Fine de Cognac
The only big brand name to have made it to our 10 Best Cognacs for $100 list, the Hennessy VSOP Fine de Cognac is a rather versatile cognac to own. Enjoy neat as a digestif or it works just as well in your favorite cocktail. It also makes a wonderful alternative to the virtually impossible to get hold of Hennessy Pure White, with many switching allegiances to this fine VSOP blend.
Now, we apologise as the next few are a bit of a cheat. They don’t quite hit the ‘under $100’ bracket but they were just too good to leave out. And hey - they’re not far off!
Léopold Gourmel Age Du Fruit 10 Carats Cognac
This Léopold Gourmel is a lovely old XO Fin Bois Cognac, slightly over-proof at 41% ABV. It matches well after white wines, meat or fish, or even Asian cuisine. Age Du Fruit is produced without additives, aged in untoasted French oak casks, never chill-filtered, and certainly doesn’t have any artificial wood notes. It also, of course, goes without saying that there’s no added caramel here.
Tesseron Lot No76 XO Tradition Cognac
The multi-award-winning Tesseron Lot No76 XO Tradition is a blend of the very best eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne, with the oldest being from the harvest of 1976. Enjoy neat or over ice for the very best taste experience.
Braastad XO Superior Cognac
Braastad XO Superior is a blend of four different region’s eaux-de-vie: Grande and Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois. The eaux-de-vie in the blend have been aged for between 15 and 25 years.
Paul Beau Hors d'Age Cognac
Winner of an impressive 5 gold medals since the year 2000, Paul Beau’s Hors d’Age was a quarter of a century in the making. This is truly evident from the moment you first set eyes on its deep mahogany robe and the aromas and flavors only enhance the sensory journey. We just HAD to include this on the list.
So that’s it - Sophie’s list of the best cognacs for under $100 (or so). And if you’ve read this list and we’ve missed your favorite cognac off it, then let us know! We’ll happily carry out a further taste test.
Best Cognac under 50$
There are so many great cognacs at umbeatable prices, but we wanted to present you with a selection that isn't too overwhelming
Cognac Expert has created this list in response to multiple readers’ requests for a selection of the best cheap cognac, well let’s rephrase that as cognac is never cheap, the best affordable cognac! So we have set about discovering the best cognac under $50 (or thereabout) that you will still be proud to serve to family and friends.
Obviously, this list could go on and on, as there are so many great cognacs at unbeatable prices, but we wanted to present you with a selection that isn’t too overwhelming.
Jean Fillioux COQ Grande Champagne
Jean Fillioux COQ is a zesty VS cognac. It is light and pleasantly fresh, with floral notes, vine blossom, lime tree and citrus peel. The light color shows that it is relatively young in age, but that doesn’t mean it is any less interesting than more mature blends. The Fillioux estate is dedicated to producing the highest quality cognac whilst paying tribute to century-old traditions in craftsmanship. You can be confident in this cognac’s success at any dinner party.
Courvoisier VSOP Fine Champagne
Another big house name to make it onto our list here, but how could we not include this iconic blend that is also an absolute bargain at this price?! Made solely from eaux-de-vie from the two premier regions of Grande and Petite Champagne and aged for between eight and 12 years, this blend is a medium-bodied classic.
This cognac offers wonderful aromas of butter, caramel and sandalwood, combined with elegant notes of pears and a hint of vanilla. It is both soft and smooth on the palate and can be enjoyed as a stand-alone beverage or as a base for cocktails.
Francois Peyrot VSOP
Francois Peyrot VSOP Cognac is another good budget cognac and perfectly represents this family-run, artisan house. It is made from a blend of only Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie. For over two decades now, Peyrot has shunned the use of any chemical; so you can rest assured that when you purchase a cognac from them, nothing has been used to aid or enhance the growth of the vines. This VSOP is ideal to enjoy as either an aperitif or digestif, or even as a base for your favorite cocktail.
Marancheville VSOP Grande Champagne
This is a relatively new brand that we’re very into. We get excited when there are new and innovative people on the block! Already the bottle looks a little different and rather hip, which is quite rare in the world of cognac. Marancheville’s cognacs are outstanding. This one, their VSOP Grande Champagne, is both powerful and mature, without being too spicy. It develops subtle notes of honeysuckle and fruit and has a smooth, long finish.
Best Cognac Brands
We can tell you: there isn't a rule. The best Cognac is the one you like.
We are often asked what are the top cognac brands in the world. Is there a list? Is there a rule as to which is the best taste? Is the most expensive brand the best cognac? What are the best cheap cognac brands? And if you just buy the known bottles, are you sure to get a good one?
We can tell you: there isn’t a rule. The best cognac is the one you like: taste, design, culture and background determine preference. It all comes into play together. We recommend exploring and discovering the background of brands, distillers and traders when searching for new cognacs.
Or, have a look at our list of all Cognac Bottles.
In our opinion, the most attractive cognac comes from a small, private single estate distiller - a family business that you get to know: something special, hidden and unknown.
It’s also interesting to look at tasting competitions and awards, their function as a neutral third party is important for the value of cognac and is a great source for discovering new and upcoming cognac brands.
There is not one Cognac that is better than the rest. It all comes down to personal preference. XO and above Cognacs are considered of a higher quality than younger Cognacs.
There are so many great cognacs at unbeatable prices from both big houses and smaller artisan cognac producers. We recommend exploring the market.
The answer to this question varies from person to person, depending on personal taste. However, VS or VSOP cognacs are more versatile and so suitable for someone discovering how they enjoy their cognac.
There are so many great cognacs at unbeatable prices from both big houses and smaller artisan cognac producers. However, younger cognacs tend to be less expensive than XOs or older.
There are so many great cognacs at unbeatable prices from both big houses and smaller artisan cognac producers. We recommend exploring the market or reading our article on best cognacs under $50.
There is not one cognac that is better than the rest. It all comes down to personal preference. XO and above cognacs are considered of a higher quality, however VS or VSOP cognacs are more versatile.
The answer to this question really depends on your personal taste, however you can have a look at our article where we recommend a number of excellent XO cognacs that are very affordable considering their age and quality.