A Vintage Cognac is a Cognac from a single year and a single harvest, not a blend from different eaux-de-vie like an XO or a VSOP. It is also referred to as a Millésime Cognac. We commonly know this from Whisky as “single barrel“, which means the spirit comes from one single source: one year, one estate, one barrel.
The difference between Cognac and Whiskey is that for Cognac, the art lies in the blending. Vintage Cognacs are quite uncommon, although it is a trend that is becoming more and more popular. It's actually a very special gift to find a Vintage Cognac of a birthday, or one that marks an anniversary.
In order for a Cognac house to be allowed to bottle a Vintage, there are legal obligations that need to be followed. The National Cognac Bureau (BNIC) has to verify that procedure is respected. Once the Cognac producer has decided to set aside a selection of barrels for the Vintage designation, an official from the BNIC comes and seals the barrels and then makes sure they are locked away for restricted access only. It is important that the bottling date is written on the label, as this indicates for how long the Cognac was actually aged in the barrel for, because Cognac stops aging once bottled.
Learn more in our selection of educational Cognac articles.