Cognac is a complex and fascinating drink, with many excellent options to choose from, so let’s take a look at several top contenders that any cognac lover needs to try. We’ll review some classic choices that are always reliable, like Dusse and Remy Martin as well as some smaller producers making waves with their exceptional quality and character. No matter your taste, you’ll uncover at least one new cognac to fall in love with. So pull up a chair, grab a snifter, and get ready for an eye-opening tour of some of the best liquids the Cognac region has to offer.
D’Usse is a collaboration between owner Jay Z and renowned cellar master Michel Casavecchia who produces this award-winning cognac on a 200-year-old estate. D’Usse XO comes in a beautiful black crystal decanter, featuring flavor notes of apricot, dark chocolate, walnut, berry, with a balanced and smooth finish.
Founded by Jean Luc Pasquete in 1977 after inheriting a family estate that included 8 hectares of Grande and Petite champagne grape vines, Jean-Luc Pasquet is now in its second generation of Pasquet ownership. They use the family farm’s harvest of organic champagne grapes to create three lines of cognacs. Their organic cognacs are aged much longer than the required 2 years, creating some of the richest, smoothest palates.
One of the oldest cognac houses, Frapin Chateau is a single-family estate that is over 750 years old. The Frapin Chateau Fontpinot XO is the cream of the estate’s crop, with aromas of candied fruits, marzipan, and port. These heavenly aromas transform into a flavor palate that is especially complex, with a long, smooth finish.
Hine is another well-respected cognac house celebrating nearly 260 years of production. The Hine Rare VSOP blends 20 different eaux de vie from Charente vines of petite and grande champagne. This cognac is especially fruity with aromas of roasted citrus and ripe summer fruits, ceding to a juicy and silky palate with a long, warming finish.
Bisquit and Dubouche is a 200-year-old distillery that combines old and new traditions. VSOP stands for “very superior old pale” or VSOP cognac. The Bisquit and Dubouche VSOP use four different grape varieties aged for four years in French Oak. The fruity and spicy nose leads to a juicy fruity flavor palate with notes of pear, mango, and citrus.
This refined and hard-to-find French cognac lives up to its name. Camus XO Elegance is a blend of various eaux-de-vies from vineyards in the Cognac region along with the brand’s signature eaux de vies. The result is a rich spirit with unique tasting notes of licorice, dried fruit, and spice, with earthy leather at the finish.
Hardy originated as an English-owned house of cognac in 1863 and is now in its 5th generation of Hardy family ownership. Hardy produces numerous cognac collections, some of which are in collaboration with the famed glassware designer Lalique. Many of its cognacs use eaux-de-vies over a century old.
Remy Martin is the second most popular French cognac house in the world. The Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal gets its name from an award of excellence given to Remy Martin in 1738 by King Louis XV. This delicious blend of oak-aged eaux-de-vies delivers flavor notes of brioche, vanilla, and toasted bread with one of the smoothest finishes of any cognac.
Pierre Ferrand Reserve is a double-cask cognac and one of the only double-cask-aged cognacs in existence. The second aging process in Banyuls barrels gives this cognac a rancio flavor on the finish, adding to the complexity of its palate. Tasting notes include cinnamon, walnuts, chocolate, vanilla, and red fruits. It has a sweeter taste that’s perfect for after-dinner sipping.
ABK6 is the newest cognac producer, originating in 2005. The ANK6 VSOP Single Estate Cognac is made from grande champagne vintage grapes harvested from a single estate. This cognac has a balanced palate of spices and dried fruit with wood and tannins giving it a dry finish.
A key guideline in cognac production is aging in French oak barrels. This unique cognac from Bache-Gabrielsen is another double-cask aged spirit that first ages in French oak, followed by a short 6-month finishing in American oak barrels. The eaux de vies from Ugni-blanc grape varieties age in French oak barrels to produce a tropical fruit, cocoa, and vanilla palate, while the American oak barrels give it a distinctive aroma.
Francois Voyer is a cognac producer with five generations of experience. They source their grapes from Grande Champagne varieties. Today, Francois Voyer produces 10 types of cognac. For an especially luxurious blend, try their XO Gold, using a blend of eaux de vies aged between 10 and 30 years. It has vanilla, hazelnut, and spices on the palate with a long, smooth finish.
Winner of the Gold Medal at the IWSC and San Francisco International Spirits Competition, Park XO Cigar Blend uses a ratio of 70% grande champagne to 30% petite champagne grapes to create a floral and fruity aroma. The complex tasting notes feature honey, saffron, gingerbread, citrus, and vanilla.
Louis XIII is Remy Martin’s most exclusive, highest-quality sub-brand of cognacs. Using the best Grande Champagne cru varieties, Louis XIII comprises numerous cognacs, some of which are the most expensive cognacs in the world. The crystal decanters these cognacs come in are worth thousands by themselves.
Guillon-Painturaud VSOP Grande Champagne cognac is a premier cru cognac made from Ugni-blanc grapes aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of 5 years. Its light amber hue and fruity, caramel aroma lead to a flavor profile of vanilla and muscat. It's a perfect cognac to pair with a rich dessert like a creme brulee or a sorbet.
From the best-selling and most popular cognac brand in the world, Hennessy Master Blender’s Selection No. 3 is one of the famed producer’s best cognacs. It is a blend hand selected by Hennessey’s 8th generation Master blender, featuring a dessert-like palate of praline and pastries with a luxurious and smooth finish.
Martell is the youngest of the top four cognac producers, which also includes Remy Martin and Hennessy. Martell XO Cognac is the culmination of 300 years of cognac production, blending Borderies and Grande Champagne grapes. The flavor palate offers notes of fig and red fruits with a full-bodied mouthfeel and a smooth finish.