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Highproof & Overproof Cognacs

Cognac, arguably France’s most iconic spirit, is known and beloved the world over. It has appellation status and therefore its production is tightly regulated, governed by a production constitution called the cahier des charges. This rulebook officially states that for an eau-de-vie to be bottled and commercialized as Cognac, it must be at least 40% abv and can contain several authorized additives - notably water - after two years minimum aging in oak barrels. After Cognac’s second distillation, the bonne chauffe, the spirit drips off the still at roughly 70% alcohol, but a lot happens between the still strength 70% and the Cognac’s final bottling strength. Let’s explore the world of overproof Cognacs.

There are three primary styles of Cognac in terms of their bottling alcohol strength, each offering a unique aroma and flavor profile: Standard Bottled Cognac, Overproof Cognac, and Cask Strength (brut de fut) Cognac.

Cognac bottled at 40% alcohol volume is the most widely available and accessible Cognac on the market. Refer to this as Standard Bottled Cognac. The spirit is reduced with water to reach the 40% alcohol content and create a smoother, more approachable drinking experience. Depending on the age of the Cognac, more or less water is required to arrive at 40% abv. Most Cognac producers are extremely vigilant about giving the eau-de-vie enough time to digest the addition of water and properly “marry”. These Cognacs still offer plenty of flavor and complexity, making them ideal for both novice and experienced drinkers, and they generally showcase the inherent roundness and balance of the Cognac blend.

Overproof Cognac, in contrast, is a Cognac bottled above the standard bottling strength of 40% - but in most cases still receiving a reduction with water. For example, a producer who chooses to bottle his or her XO at 43% abv is making an Overproof Cognac. The exact same reduction principle applies as for standard bottled Cognacs. That is, water is more or less added until the desired bottling strength is reached. But in this case, the producer wishes to have some additional abv percentage points to give the Cognac some additional structure - more of a spine let’s say - and often a different body and texture. They offer a more intense and complex flavor profile, and the increased structure and body can carry the aromas and flavors differently across one’s palate. This higher alcohol content can be challenging for newcomers to the spirit, but eventually many tasters find themselves gravitating to this style of Cognac.

Cask Strength (brut de fut) Cognac is a term used to describe a spirit that has not been diluted with water after it has been aged in oak barrels. This means that the alcohol content of the Cognac is at its naturally reduced level, which can vary depending on the length of time it has spent aging, the specific barrel, and the cellar conditions in which it was aged (humid or dry). Cask strength Cognacs are typically bottled at alcohol volumes ranging from 48% to 60%, generally speaking.

One of the benefits of Cask Strength Cognac is that it offers a more intense and complex flavor profile than Cognacs that have been diluted and bottled at 40% alcohol volume. This is because the higher alcohol content allows more of the flavors and aromas from the oak barrels to come through, as well as the natural flavors of the grapes used to make the spirit. However, cask strength Cognacs can also be quite strong and require some experience to enjoy fully. In many cases, it is recommended to add a few drops of water to the spirit before drinking it in order to bring out the full range of flavors and aromas without being overwhelmed by the alcohol content.

When choosing a Cognac, it is important to consider the specific occasion, the audience, and personal preferences. Cognac bottled at 40% alcohol volume is the most versatile and easy-to-get along with. In many cases, the Cognac shows itself to be round, balanced, and complex. Overproof Cognac is ideal for more experienced connoisseurs seeking a more intense tasting experience. Cask strength (brut de fut) Cognac is recommended for those seeking an intense flavor profile and who are keen on experiencing Cognac in its purest, rawest, most natural form.

No one style is better than the other: they are different style branches from the same Cognac tree. What’s for sure is that there is a Cognac for each moment and for each type of taster.

We are proponents of trying new things, so if you have only experienced Cognac bottled at 40%, give an Overproof or Cask Strength Cognac a try. And conversely, if you are only tasting Cask Strength Cognacs, slow things down and experience the balance and drinkability of a Standard Bottled Cognac. Cheers!

ABV Range 41-45%

Raison Personnelle XO 4.0

Raison Personnelle XO 4.0

Beoordelingen (5)

Average rating

Exceptional 90 /100
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Cognac Age : XO

Growth Area : Grande Champagne

ABV : 40,7%

Bottle Size : 700ml

Raison Personnelle XO 4.0 Grande Champagne Cognac is a limited edition blend that embodies utmost finesse and esteemed quality. Produced exclusively from grapes selected from the premier cru, the eaux-de-vie were then distilled over a wood fire (in the years 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006) and aged for at least 10 years before its aromas were ready for bottling.

XO Cognac of any kind should be enjoyed neat at room temperature. While savoring this Cognac in its purest form is advised, it can also be appreciated on the rocks or with a dash of mineral water. Serve this expression at the end of a meal as a digestive as a pleasurable nightcap alongside a fine cigar of your choice.

ABV Range 45-50%

Prunier XXO Cognac Family Series Number 2

Cognac Age : XXO

Growth Area : Grande Champagne

ABV : 48,6%

Bottle Size : 700ml

Whereas the XXO Family Series 001 was a blend of two vintage Cognacs from the Fins Bois, this XXO Family Series 002 edition is from the 1985 vintage and is a single cask Cognac - bottled at its natural cask strength 48.6%. It comes from the Grande Champagne cru and was selected by Dale Cooper alongside Stephane Burnez from Maison Prunier. During Cooper’s recent visit to the Cognac region, he visited Prunier’s damp cellars in Gimeaux where hundreds of barrels and dame jeannes peacefully lie, allowing the Cognac inside to mature and come of age.

US$ 470
excl. TAX excl. verzending

Prunier XXO Cognac Family Series Number 2

ABV Range >50%

Raymond Bossis XO Brut de Fût Cognac

Raymond Bossis XO Brut de Fût Cognac

Beoordelingen (14)

Average rating

Highly Recommended 88 /100
Nose
Mouth
Smaak
Voltooien
Impression

Cognac Age : XO

Growth Area : Fins Bois

ABV : 56%

Bottle Size : 500ml 

Raymond Bossis XO Brut de Fût Cognac is a rare and unique blend bottled at 56% vol. The natural degree of this unreduced Cognac has benefited exclusively from a natural evaporation method, called "Part des Anges" for more than 40 years. Due to its lengthy maturation process, the Cognac presents unrivalled aromatic power and flavor. Since the blend stands proud as being both unassembled and unfiltered, it is able to reveal all the characteristics of a well-matured XO. Bottled in very limited quantities, XO Brut de Fût owes its credit to the Raymond Bossis Cellar Master; Jean-Luc who carefully crafted this Cognac jewel and work of art to utmost perfection.

US$ 115
excl. TAX excl. verzending
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