Many may find drinking Cognac to be an “acquired” taste, but a fine Cognac makes a great after dinner drink. Good Cognac is served in a heated brandy snifter and is a nice accompaniment with dessert, espresso, or a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
This type of brandy is named after the French town of Cognac where it is produced. The rules of Cognac are pretty strict and it’s production process goes back about 300 years. The juice has to be 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche or Colombard grapes. Then it must be twice distilled in copper stills and then aged for a minimum of two years in French oak.
Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin and Courvoisier – the smallest of the big four houses, and bought by U.S.-based Fortune Brands Inc in 2005 in the joint breakup with Pernod Ricard of Britain’s Allied Domecq. Martell is the world’s third-biggest, Remy Martin the second, and Hennessy is number one.
The industry has historically seen growth from two-year old VS cognacs mainly to the U.S. according to Reuters, but recently growth has come from four-year old Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) and six-year old Extra Old (XO) cognacs, largely in eastern Asia.
Brandy is made from various fruits. Cognac is made from high quality grapes from the Cognac region of France, and along with age, it is the precise part of the Cognac region that determines the best Cognac. Some of the world’s finest cognacs sell for tens of thousands of dollars a bottle. I chose what I believe to be the most reasonably priced for the top five pick(without the influence of Cognacs coupons).
5 Best Cognacs For The Money
1. Hennessy XO (Extra Old)
$120 to $200 a bottle – 750ML.
A six-year old cognac.
This cognac was created by Maurice Hennessy in 1870. X.O was at the time a new form of cognac: gutsy, full bodied and elegant. Some of the 100 eaux-de-vie used to make X.O were aged for 30 years, making it bold. Maurice Hennessy named it X.O as in “extra old” cognac. Hennessy XO has notes of candied fruit on the tongue and spice on the nose. It is smooth and warm with hints of cacao with a long finish. We recommend you drink it neat, or with a dash of still water.
2. Remy Martin XO (Extra Old)
$120 to $200 a bottle – 750ML.
A six-year old cognac.
Remy Martin’s XO – Extra Old Cognac – is known for its floral and fruity notes. On the mouth, it is velvety and lush. It is a blend of Cognac Fine Champagne, Grande Champagne, and Petite Champagne. As you drink it, you will taste juicy figs, candied tangerines and get aromas of jasmine. There is even a hint of cloves and cinnamon. Enjoy this in a snifter during very (very) special occasions.
3. Remy Martin VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale)
$50 a bottle 750ML.
A four year-old cognac. Remy is the worlds best selling VSOP cognac. Remy Martin was founded in 1724. The Rémy Martin VSOP is composed of Cognac Fine Champagne, Grande Champagne, and Petite Champagne. It alludes to flavors ripe peaches and smells of violets. This is a great Cognac for cocktails. Try out a VSOP Sazerac.
4. Courvoisier VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale)
$50 a bottle – 750ML.
Courvoisier VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) four year old Cognac is made with a blend of cognacs up to 10 years old from two of the finest crus in the Cognac area. The blend consists of 50% Grande Champagne grapes and Petite Champagne grapes, this means it can carry the ‘Fine Champagne’ designation. It is luscious on the mouth and jammy. It has touches of vanilla and a bit of a funk in the end. This is a great every day Cognac.
5. Hennessy VS Cognac (Very Special)
$30 a bottle – 750ML
A two year-old cognac. If you’re going to drink the least aged cognac, why not buy it from the top house. On the nose, Hennessy’s VS is all about fruit and oak. On the mouth, it tastes a bit like marzipan. This bottle is one of the best values out there.
Now, just for fun, let’s look at what StyleCrave’s Joe Wertz claims are the 10 Most Expensive Cognacs Ever Bottled.
10 Most Expensive Cognacs Ever Bottled
10. $5,000 – Courvoisier L’Esprit Decanter
Made from a variety of blends, some which date back to Napoleon I, Courvoisier’s L’Esprit is smoky and rich, with fragrances of cinnamon and dried apricot flowers. The flavor is initially powerful but has a mellow aftertaste.
9. $5,500 – Jenssen Arcana
Aged 98 years in Oak barrels, Jenssen’s Arcana is powerful, “extraordinarily” concentrated and only bottled, sealed and certified upon request. It is an exceptional cognac and having it would be a truly unique experience.
8. $6,000 – Hine Triomphe Talent De Thomas Hine Crystal Decanter
Each bottle of Hine’s high-end Talent de Thomas is bottled in a Baccarat decanter and placed within an actual cigar humidor made from Maccasar ebony and Honduran Mahogany which helps preserve the spirit’s delicate floral bouquet.
7. $6,400 – Frapin Cuvée 1888
A rare blend of Cognacs from Frapin’s reserves, the Cuvée is bottled beneath a 24-karat gold stopper in a twisty crystal decanter that looks like a prop from a community Shakespeare staging. Flowery flavors combine with sweet spices, honey and toasted vanilla notes.
6. $7,500 – Martell Creation Cognac In Handcarved Baccarat Decanter
Martell’s rare cognac is a “reinterpretation” of a batch first casked at the start of the 19th century. The Grand Extra has a soft flavor that starts as dried fruit and marmalade and fades into notes of walnuts and cedarwood.
5. $7,900 – Le Voyage de Delamain
A blend of cognacs from Delamain, Le Voyage was bottled in 500 crystal decanters, most of which were quickly bought or reserved by eager collectors. It’s rumored to have a complex taste that fades from Russian leather to tobacco, coffee and Eastern spices.
4. $12,900 – Hardy Perfection 140 years Cognac
Supposedly the “World’s oldest known unblended cognac,” this offering from Hardy was limited to 300 Daum crystal decanters. It’s an exceedingly rare cognac that is said to taste of coffee, chocolate and oak.
3. $55,000 – Remy Martin Cognac Black Pearl Louis XIII
When you swish Remy Martin’s deep amber-colored Black Pearl Louis XIII around in your mouth, you’re actually tasting 1,200 40 to 100-year old cognacs blended together. The swill is said to smell of flowers, fruits and spices, it’s flavor a mixture of ginger, cinnamon and Cuban cigars.
2. $200,000 – Hennessy Beaute du Siecle Cognac
Insert a bronze key, turn, and Hennessy’s Baccarat crystal-bottled Beaute du Siecle rises up on a tray. Housed in a melted aluminum and mirrored glass case this mixture is blended from Hennessy’s reserves of 47 to 100-year-old cognacs.
1. $2 million – Henri IV, Cognac Grande Champagne
An elixir mixed since 1776 by the direct descendants of King Henri IV, each batch of Henri IV Dudognon Heritage is aged in a barrel for more than 100 years and capped inside a 24-karat gold-dipped and 6,500 diamond-bejeweled bottle.