Cognac is grape brandy named after the region in which it is made, in an around the town of Cognac in the southwest of France. Cognac is predominantly made from three types of grapes — ugni blanc, folle blanche, and colombard, with other grape varietals showing up in the mix. They are vinified into a thin wine, then distilled twice in copper pot stills to make brandy. This brandy must by law then be aged in French oak barrels for at least two years. Brandy of this minimum age can be labeled VS in quality. After four years it can be called VSOP, and after ten years (a recent extension of time), it becomes XO. Many highly prized cognacs are much older than this — and they carry some incredibly high price tags.

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Review: Hine Homage Cognac (2021)

By Christopher Null | March 25, 2021 |

Hine’s Homage is an homage to Thomas Hine, the English founder of the Hine brand back in 1763. The brandy itself is a Grand Champagne Cognac blended from more than 20 eaux-de-vie, again all made from Grande Champagne grapes. This blend is noteworthy as including four single vintages that are called “Early Landed,” which were…

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Review: Rome de Bellegarde XO Cognac

By Christopher Null | February 4, 2021 |

In 2018 the defunct Cognac brand Rome de Bellegarde made headlines when a shot of its brandy, produced in 1858, sold for more than $14,000, making it the most expensive shot of Cognac ever sold. Shortly thereafter, sensing an opportunity perhaps, the brand was revived by the latest generation of the Bellegarde family, and its…

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Review: Frerot Extra Cognac

By Christopher Null | December 6, 2020 |

Frerot Extra is a 100% Grande Champagne Cognac made from eau-de-vies with an age ranging from 30 to 50 years old. That kind of age isn’t remotely common, so I approached this brandy with significant enthusiasm. Results? It’s perfectly agreeable, but to be honest, it’s vaguely disappointing. The nose is fragrant and floral, very light…

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Drinkhacker’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 26, 2020 |

At this point it feels safe to say that the 2020 holiday season will be unlike any other in our lifetimes. And while in-person gatherings may not be possible, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to stop exchanging gifts. In fact, in the world of booze, it’s easier than ever to ship a bottle of…

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Review: Cognac Frapin – VSOP and Chateau Fontpinot XO

By Christopher Null | August 27, 2020 |

Established in 1270 in France, Cognac Frapin is a single-family estate that continues to produce a range of spirits in the Grande Champagne area. The distillery turns out a wide selection of brandies, including vintage-dated varieties. Today we look at two of the operation’s expressions — a mainline VSOP and a rarer XO. Cognac Frapin…

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Review: Grand Brulot Liqueur

By Christopher Null | May 17, 2020 |

Grand Brulot is not your everyday coffee liqueur — far from it. In fact, it’s only 49% coffee liqueur. Crafted from 51% VSOP Cognac and 49% liqueur de cafe, this blend from the Tardy Cognac house is really a coffee-flavored brandy, not the other way around. The spirit, as the name suggests, is a tribute…

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Review: Ferrand 10 Generations Cognac

By Christopher Null | May 5, 2020 |

The latest Cognac from Ferrand (“Pierre” has officially been dropped from the brand’s name) is a “legacy of 10 generations,” even though it comes across with an age profile of significantly fewer generations. Maybe half a generation? Anyway… What’s new here in this Grande Champagne Cognac is that it is aged in French oak casks,…

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Review: 3 Cognacs from Flaviar, 2020 Releases

By Christopher Null | April 19, 2020 |

My latest trio of tasters from Flaviar’s new quarterly subscription club takes us into the world of Cognac, featuring a trilogy from France’s most noteworthy brandy-producing region — none of which we’ve ever covered here before. Let’s dig in! Maison Surrenne Cognac VSOP – This is a collaboration between California’s Germain-Robin and Cognac’s largest remaining…

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Review: Camus Cognac VSOP and XO (2019)

By Christopher Null | January 16, 2020 |

We’ve been fans of Camus since our first encounter in 2010, and the company’s continued efforts at innovation with a regular release of new expressions have only further cemented Camus as a top Cognac house. Recently, Camus took an unusual step and relaunched its core lineup of VS/Very Special, VSOP, and XO Cognacs. The brandies…

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Review: Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 3

By Christopher Null | March 18, 2019 |

In 2016, Hennessy began releasing one-off special editions called the Master Blender’s Selection. Master Blender’s Selection No. 1 and No. 2 were both well received, and now No. 3 continues the line, “a blend composed exclusively of high-quality eaux-de-vie with great potential that have been set aside specifically to be used at the Master Blender’s…

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