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.

Top Cognac Posts:

What’s the Difference Between Cognac and Armagnac?
Bache-Gabrielsen American Oak Cognac
Courvoisier VS, VSOP, and XO Cognac
Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac

Review: Hennessy Black Cognac

By Christopher Null | June 30, 2010 |

First let’s cover the color: Hennessy Black, a spinoff of standard Hennessy cognac designed as a cocktail ingredient, is not black. It’s a dark gold color, much like any cognac you’re likely to encounter. A blend of up to 45 eaux-de-vie, Hennessy Black is aged five years and dropped into a wholly opaque bottle designed…

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Review: Bache-Gabrielsen XO Natur & Eleganse Cognac

By Christopher Null | January 2, 2010 |

From the maker of one of my most treasured spirits of the year comes Natur & Eleganse, a cognac aged at least 10 years in oak casks. What’s immediately surprising is how this spirit, deep amber in the bottle, is a pale gold when poured into a glass. The oddities don’t stop there, though. The…

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Review: Pierre Ferrand Reserve Cognac

By Christopher Null | December 25, 2009 |

On the heels of Pierre Ferrand’s 10-year-old Ambre, I gave the distillery’s 20-year-old Reserve cognac a try. I was less of a fan of this edition of Ferrand’s brandy, which is considerably darker in color but comes off as a bit brutish and somewhat unbalanced. The flavors are relatively typical of the space, veering more…

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Review: Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

By Christopher Null | December 17, 2009 |

Unassuming at just $45 (at most — I’ve seen if for $35 sometimes), Pierre Ferrand’s Ambre is hardly an ultra-luxe cognac. And yet for the price you pay you’re getting an exceptionally high-quality brandy that I find hard not to recommend to any cognac fan. In fact, I like it quite a bit better than…

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Drinkhacker’s 2009 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 27, 2009 |

Booze: The gift that keeps on giving, whether you like it or not. It’s now tradition at Drinkhacker to look back at the best new spirits of the year, offering our suggestions on our favorite tipples — and the stuff that’s most likely to impress your holiday giftee should he find a neatly wrapped bottle…

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Review: Bache-Gabrielsen Hors d’Age Cognac

By Christopher Null | September 30, 2009 |

The top shelf bottling of the Bache-Gabrielsen lineup, here’s a cognac that’s worth its fancy bottle, its wire-sealed lid, and its wooden box. This pure Grande Champagne cognac includes spirits that date back to 1917 — the youngest was distilled in 1960. That’s 49 years old at least, and it’s obvious once you pour the…

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Review: Conjure Cognac

By Christopher Null | September 26, 2009 |

If nothing else, I recommend you get your hands on the press book for Conjure Cognac, a new spirit brought to you by rapper/actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges. Filled with pictures of Bridges sniffing samples at France’s Birkedal Hartmann while surrounded by dapper Frenchmen, it’s as bizarre a promo for a spirit as I’ve encountered. As…

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Review: Martell Exquisite L’Or de Jean Martell Cognac

By Christopher Null | May 14, 2009 |

We’ve reviewed rare spirits before, but Martell’s Exquisite L’Or de Jean Martell cognac is to date the absolute rarest: Just 120 bottles are being sold. We got a taste — not much, mind you — but enough for a serious review. And my how quickly that went down. The 80-proof Martell’s Exquisite L’Or is, indeed,…

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Review: Bache-Gabrielsen Classic XO Cognac

By Christopher Null | April 25, 2009 |

A Double Gold winner at this year’s San Francisco International Spirits Competition, Bache-Gabrielsen’s XO is a relative newcomer to the Cognac world, launched officially only in 1996, a wee babe in this rarefied industry. Blended from 72 percent Grande Champagne grapes and 28 percent Petite Champagne, then aged for about 20 years, this is a…

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Tasting Report: Delamain Cognac Guided Tasting, 2008 Releases

By Christopher Null | September 27, 2008 |

All hail the House of Delamain. I reviewed much of Delamain’s exceptional cognac line earlier in the summer. This week, the company’s Managing Director Charles Braastad took the time to guide me and a handful of other wine and spirits writers through his company’s offerings. This tiny cognac producer makes some amazing products: The youngest…

Tasting Report: Delamain Cognac Guided Tasting, 2008 Releases Read More