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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Courvoisier VS, VSOP, and XO Cognac
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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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Review: Camus XO Borderies Family Reserve Cognac

By Christopher Null | March 16, 2019 |

Cognac house Camus is out with its newest expansion to its Borderies-produced line of brandies, Camus XO Borderies Family Reserve. As is traditional for this producer, the Cognac is made from estate-grown grapes that are harvested from a single vineyard in the tiny Borderies region. It’s solid stuff. The nose is surprisingly woody and earthy,…

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Review: Hine Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2008 Cognac

By Christopher Null | February 1, 2019 |

Hine’s Bonneuil 2005 and 2006 — limited edition, single estate Cognac releases named after Hine’s 297 estate-managed acres at Bonneuil Village — are some of the finest middle-aged Cognacs you can find. The Bonneuil line skipped 2007, but now it’s back with a 2008 vintage release composed of just 16 casks, the smallest release in the…

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Drinkhacker’s 2018 Holiday Gift Guide – Best Alcohol/Spirits for Christmas

By Christopher Null | November 22, 2018 |

2018 marks our eleventh annual holiday gift guide, and we’re hoping this year really gets you in the spirit of giving at Christmas. Ha! Seriously, you’ll need it. Prices are creeping ever higher, especially on popular categories like whiskey, and stocks of some of the most prized products seem to be more limited than ever this…

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Review: Flaviar Frerot XO Cognac Assemblage de Crus

By Christopher Null | June 27, 2018 |

Online retailer Flaviar is no stranger to bespoke spirits, having released (among others) its own heavily peated Scotch previously. Next up is Cognac, a blended spirit called Frerot. Launching this Spring, Frérot XO Cognac Assemblage de Crus gives rise to a new order in the world of fine spirits –a Cognac created by the people.…

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Review: Hine Rare, Homage, Antique, and H by Hine (2018)

By Christopher Null | June 9, 2018 |

While we’ve previously looked at a couple of special bottlings from Cognac’s Hine — the Domaines Hine single-vintage 2005 and 2006 releases — we haven’t done a deep dive into its more readily available expressions. This includes three brandies in the “great classics” line, plus the forward-looking “H by Hine,” a VSOP brandy designed primarily to…

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Review: A Trio of Pineau des Charentes – Tiffon, Reviseur, and Chateau de Beaulon

By Christopher Null | February 26, 2018 |

Pineau des Charentes is perhaps the most unique “wine” you’ll ever encounter — in part because there’s actually no wine in it. What’s Pineau? Pineau des Charentes hails from the Cognac region of France (and thereabouts), where winemakers take (typically white) wine grapes, crush them into must, then — before it ferments (and turns into…

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Review: Grand Marnier and Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire

By Christopher Null | February 12, 2018 |

Is it possible we’ve never reviewed one of the most essential liqueurs ever produced (GM Titanium notwithstanding)? Grand Marnier, the orange-meets-brandy spirit, deserves a spot in every liquor cabinet, and I’ll tell you why in a moment. First, what is Grand Marnier, actually? Understand that this is a different animal than triple sec or Cointreau. While…

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Review: Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 2

By Christopher Null | February 1, 2018 |

Give Hennessy some credit: It isn’t resting on the old school laurels of brandydom. It’s innovating and experimenting and constantly releasing interesting stuff (for better or worse). Its latest gamble is the Master Blender’s Selection series, a line of two Cognacs — so far — that really mess with the way Cognac is supposed to…

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