The options are endless when you’re looking for the best bottle of Cognac.
You’ll find plenty of top-shelf options, one more expensive than the next. But you won’t find a guide to really help you break down and understand which brand of Cognac you never knew you wanted.
This is that guide.
Cognac might not be your first choice for an on-the-rocks sipper.
But on this list, you’ll find absolutely divine flavors and you will learn to enjoy Cognac like you never have before.
And of course, if you prefer a nice cocktail instead, our recommendations will work brilliantly with all your favorite mixes.
Below, you’ll find our list for the top brands in the world and a buyer’s guide to Cognac as well as answers to how it’s made and what types are there.
Finally, we’ll round off this article with tips on how to drink and really enjoy Cognac as well as the key tasting notes and vocabulary you’ll need to become a true aficionado.
The 20 Best Cognac Brands you can buy
Before we introduce the 20 best cognac brands, let us begin with our top 5:
|2||Cognac Frapin||Best High-End Option|
|4||Martell||Best for Brand Prestige|
|5||Camus||Most Easy To Drink|
Now, let us check out the top 20 best cognac brands:
Hennessy or Jas Hennessey and Company is one of the oldest cognac brands that Richard Hennessy founded in 1765. Apparently, this brand is 256 years old and originally comes from France. However, currently, Diego and LVMH own 34% and 66% of the company.
The brand has sold at least 50 million cognac alcohol bottles in a year globally. This also makes the brand one of the largest cognac producers in the world, which supplies more than just 40% of this alcohol. Additionally, the brand has introduced several other variations between the years of 2009 and 2019, out of which Hennessy VS “44” was in honor of the 44th President Barack Obama. Other than that, they have also introduced products that were marketed between the years of 2007 to 2011.
Even so, the brand has been frequently used in popular culture, thanks to the great rappers and artists like Snoop Dogg, BlackPink, Sean Paul, etc. In addition, Hennessy also proudly sponsors a writing competition, known as the New Irish Writing Competition. And, surprisingly, the competition has launched many famous writers like Dermot Bolger, Joseph O’Connor, and Anne Enright.
Hennessy Cognac is undoubtedly one of the famous cognacs out there in the market.
Hine was founded in the year 1763 and was named after its owner named Thomas Hone (Thomas Hine).
However, the company was later turned into a Cognac producing company when Thomas married the daughter of a person who owned his own cognac house. Thomas took the chance and blessed generations after generations with an antique cognac brand in the year 1817. Even now, the production takes place in France, in the Hine House, located near the Charente River in Jarnac.
To date, the Hine Cognac is known as the best cognac brand in the world and is the only supplier to the British Royal Family in Britain.
Martell is the oldest active cognac selling brand in the world. It was founded 306 years ago, in 1715. Jean Martell originally founded the company. However, currently, Pernod Richard owns the company as a whole.
In 1715, Jean had begun his own trading business on the sides of River Charente. He began to use grapes and Tronçais oak for creating cognac. Later after he passed away, the company was developed and exported by his sons and grandsons.
The brand offers Martell Cordon Bleu, Martell VSOP Médaillon (Very Superior Old Pale), Martell Blue Swift, Martell Création Grand Extra, Martell XO, etc.
The brand not only offers richness in its history, but also in its taste and variations, and to date, Martell is a favorite cognac brand of many! They offer 750 ml bottles as well that cost between $26.99 to $3397.99 – $3399.99.
Meukow or The Meukow House was founded in the year 1862, during the 19th century. The brand was introduced by two brothers named Gustav Meukow and Auguste-Christophe. The brothers later set up the A.C. MEUKOW & CO. House in the year 1862.
However, the brand became a part of Compagnie de Guyenne, which was a family-owned group founded by Michel Coste. Currently, his son, Philippe Coste, and two daughters, Céline Viard and Marie-Laure Brugerolle manage the business.
Ever since the first introduction to MEUKOW cognac, the brand has won several awards, including outstanding silver medals, gold medals, and trophies every year or the other.
Courvoisier is a 186 years old French Cognac brand founded by Felix Courvoisier. However, in current terms, Beam Suntory, which is also the parent of the brand owns it’s production as well as selling.
Courvoisier was known as the finest cognac back in the days when the brand was newly introduced in the market. And, to date, the crafting process and the production takes place just like it used to be since the beginning.
Even though the brand is pretty old, pop culture didn’t leave a moment without mentioning the brand in their music videos. Eminem is one of them too!
In general, the bottles are available in variations including Courvoisier Premier Reserve, Courvoisier VSOP Fine Cognac, Courvoisier Initiale Extra, Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif, Courvoisier VS, Courvoisier XO, Courvoisier Napoleon Fine Champagne, Courvoisier Emperor, Courvoisier 12, Courvoisier 21, L’Essence De Courvoisier, and L’Esprit de Courvoisier.
Remy Martin is a French cognac brand that was founded in 1727. This french cognac producing brand was established by E. Rémy Martin. Even today, the brand not only produces but also sells Remy Martin Cognac in the market. In fact, the company is also known to be one of the biggest cognac producing companies in the world.
However, since the brand specializes in making champagne, all the cognacs contain a part of the infamous champagne. The brand’s distilling and aging is one of the reasons why the experts love this brand. Surprisingly, all the bottles of the brand share an interesting fact or specifications to enjoy. Amongst all, some bottles like Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish, Rémy Martin Carte Blanche à Baptiste Loiseau, Rémy Martin Louis XIII, Rémy Martin VSOP, and Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal are some of the best classic masterpieces.
Thanks to the pop music artists who’ve mentioned the brand in their songs, the brand has won the hearts of several experts and has managed to steal the spotlight.
Pierre Ferrand is a popular cognac brand owned by Alexandre Gabriel. The products are produced in France. The distillery takes place in the same distillery that was established in the year 1702.
The brand has a class of its own, so do its alcohol variations. They are elegant, fresh, and very delightful. Plus, cocktail lovers can experience the ultimate tastes of a mixed cognac drink. The drink preferably sets the high standards of every cocktail.
The brand distills and sells the bottles from the Château de Bonbonnet in Ars from the 18th century, and with every passing year, experts cannot keep themselves from complimenting the smooth texture and flavor of this prestigious spirit. Perhaps that is one of the main reasons why Ferrand is sold to more than 90 countries of the world.
Kelt Cognac was set up in 1987 by Swedish business visionary Olev Kelt. The brand had introduced Kelt XO that goes through 90 days on a sea journey, making it not quite the same as other normal cognac brands on the planet. Not just so, the production system makes Kelt cognac the smoothest cognac in the market. As a result, it makes Kelt one of the best cognacs to begin with.
The brand’s only bottle of cognac from the start that assisted the organization with popularity is Kelt XO, with 40% ABV and the best quality at a sensible cost. Aside from that, the brand likewise offers 21 different assortments mixed with Kelt XO, making them taste the best out of all. The company uses Limousin oak barrels during the Ocean Maturation. Alongside the producing and the aging cycle, the brand likewise has a mysterious formula that two main individuals from the organization know about.
If you do not know which brand to begin with, Kelt XO indeed seems to be the best option for you.
Camus Cognac was established in 1863 by the Camus family and presently is possessed by the fifth-era Successor Cyril Camus. Before the privately-owned company transformed into a brand, Jean-Baptiste Camus, the first originator, coordinated a gathering of makers to sell cognac under the brand ‘La Grande Marque’.
Some of the popular Camus Cagnoc bottles are Camus Very Special, Camus VSOP, Camus XO, Camus Île de Ré Fine Island, Camus VSOP Borderies, Camus XO Borderies, and Camus Extra Dark & Intense. Overall, the signature cognac of this brand tastes like cinnamon smoke, with a tint of orange marmalade and cherry stone liqueur. That being said, most of the Camus Cognacs are not just fruity in taste but also are very smooth to drink and can be consumed neat without any doubt.
Frapin is a cognac-producing establishment that is situated in Segonzac. The Frapin family had begun living in southern France since the year 1270, and to date, 21 generations of this bloodline have been associated with wines and distillers. However, the brand is currently managed by Jean-Pierre Cointreau. He is also the C.E.O of the brand.
The brand had proudly won its first gold medal in the year 1900 from the Universal Exhibition Paris. Plus, Frapin XO VIP was the only cognac that was served on the first-class flights of British Airways and Concord in the year 1967, and by 1990, the brand had spread its popularity around 75 different countries in the world. Later in the years, the brand had been termed as the only cognac brand in the world that offered the best VSOP cognac; even so, Frapin is voted as the number 6th Best Cognac in the world.
Normally, the brand has a long list of some of the smoothest cognacs in the world, including Cigar Blend, Vintage 1989, Vintage 1990, Vintage 1992, 15 Years Old, Multimillésime n°7, Plume, 1270, VSOP, XO VIP, Extra, Fontpinot XO, and The Cuvée Rabelais.
Louis XIII is a popular cognac bottle introduced to the world by Remy Martin. However, the name of the product was inspired by and named after the king of France, Louis XIII. Remy Martin, on the other hand, is a firm that produces cognac, and Louis XIII is one of a kind amongst them that was bought in the market as a brand, even though it was technically not.
The cognac Louis XIII has 40% ABV and was first sold in 1874. Interestingly, this cognac comes in varieties of sizes like Miniature 50 mL, Classic 700 mL or 750 mL, Magnum 1.5 L or 1.75 L, Jeroboam 3 L, and Mathusalem 6 L. It also comes in other special collector’s editions, out of which Black Pearl, Rare Cask 43.8, and Rare Cask 42.6, and The Legacy have gained quite a fame.
H. Mounier is a cognac-producing brand that was first founded in the year 1858. The Cognac house was originally founded by master Jean Salmon, Eugene Bellet, and Henry Mounier. The company was onto its toes, all thanks to Henry. Henry later began selling cognac in 1874, when the world stopped selling cognac only in barrels.
Even though H. Mounier is a cognac brand; it did not stop the brand from not producing other alcoholic beverages like tequila, brandy, whiskey, calvados, wine, etc. The brand offers varieties of cognac products like XO Royal, XO, VSOP, VSOP silver Torque, Dynasty, Premier Grand Cru, Réserve de Prince, Fine Cognac, Torque d’Or XO, etc.
De Luze is a VSOP cognac produced by the Fine Champagne Cognac. The brand was set up when two brothers, named Alfred and Louis-Philippe De Luze, set up a cognac business that originally started flourishing in 1862. By 2006, the brand was sold to Boinaud Family of Angeac Champagne, which is also one of the oldest cognac producing family-owned distilleries that began their production in 1640.
Even though the company went through significant changes, one thing that was hard to change is- taste. The texture, thickness, aroma, and flavor of De Luze cognac remain untampered years after years. It blends perfectly and tastes like heaven after every single sip. Thanks to its fruity, spicy, and floral taste, this cognac will have you hooked.
The brand offers varieties including De Luze Monsieur Alfred Fine Champagne Cognac, De Luze Extra Fine Champagne Cognac, De Luze VSOP Fine Champagne Cognac, De Luze XO Fine Champagne Cognac, and De Luze XO de Noel Cognac.
D’Usse is a private cognac subsidiary of the infamous company- Bacardi. The brand produces only two cognacs, known as D’USSÉ XO and D’USSÉ VSOP. D’USSÉ VSOP is aged for at least four and a half years, while D’USSÉ XO is primarily under the management of and was founded by one of the most senior master distiller named Michel Casavecchia. Currently, not only Bacardi but also famous rapper Jay-Z is also the parent owner of this masterpiece cognac.
Even though the ownership has changed over the years, the taste, texture, and flavor remain the same because of its production. From the very beginning, D’Usse cognac was perfectly crafted at the Château de Cognac. Château de Cognac is also one of the historic cognac distillery houses in France that has stories of its infamous legacy of 200 years. In recent years, even under Bacardi, the company sells more than 200,000 bottles of D’Usse cognac.
H by Hine
H by Hine is a cognac brand that belongs to the Hine Cognac Company. This bottle is known to be a young and fresh VSOP that is best suited for cocktails or can be consumed neat.
Yes! It is that smooth.
H by Hine is a blend masterly crafted with the help of 20 petite champagne and grande cognacs that age over four years. The cognac of this brand has tints of spicy, fruity, spicy, and a little bit of floral. Yet, it is a mellow cognac that you can enjoy slowly while listening to your favorite song.
Bache-Gabrielsen is a 110 years old cognac brand that was originally founded in the year 1905 by Thomas Bache-Gabrielsen. This brand has gained quite popularity in Norway. In fact, the brand has sold over millions of bottle to this country as well as gained the title of the top-selling cognac in Norway.
Thomas Bache-Gabrielsen and his upcoming generation, including his own son and daughter-in-law, joined the family business and started managing by 1942. The brand kept growing bigger just like the Thomas Bache-Gabrielsen family from Norway. Other than Norway, the brand has also launched its products in other continents and got the same energy as from Norway’s. They have also won tons of medals and trophies, including at the New York International Spirits Competition USA, 2017, San Francisco World Spirits Competition USA, 2017, Cognac Masters Drinks Business London, 2017, San Francisco World Spirit Competition USA, 2010, and many more.
Bache-Gabrielsen also offers not one, two, or three, but a number of cognac varieties that have gained fame right after its launch. Within their classic collection, you can try AMERICAN OAK Cognac, XO Fine Champagne, etc.
The brand got its name after a gentleman named Anthony Hardy, and the brand began its history in 1863. Even so, only in 1869, the brand skyrocketed and gained quite a popularity in the name of Cognac.
However, currently, the fifth generation of the Hardy bloodline are the managers of this brand. Hardy Cognac also offers master collections famously named as Legend 1863, Hardy Prestige, Hardy Tradition, and the 4 Seasons By Lalique. The brand, in fact, not only takes special care in crafting the cognacs but also carefully produces some of the best-looking packages of all time. The cognacs are perfect in taste, have peary flavors, along with notes of spices and fruits.
It is absolutely the best to enjoy with friends!
Croizet cognac is a popular production brand that is France-based but also has another main branch in Hong-Kong. However, its original production takes place in St Même Les Carrieres.
Initially, the brand was one of the only three vintage cognac houses that sold vintage cognacs. However, taking it more early, the house, or rather the business, began in the 16th century. More recently, the brand has regained its popularity and was sold at an auction for 1 million yuan, or $156,760 in Shanghai, China. In fact, the sell made this brand one of the most expensive cognac brands sold at an auction. It was even mentioned in the Guinness Book of Records. However, despite tons of changes and long-list of untold history, Croizet is now one of the leading cognac brands in Hong-Kong, China, and other parts of Asia.
As of the Croizet products, they offer classics like Croizet XO, Croizet VS, Croizet VSOP, Croizet EXTRA, and exclusive productions like Exposition Universelle 1889, Single Vintage Cognacs, Légion d’ Honneur 1883, Cuvee Leonie single harvest of 1858, and Cuvee 989.
Francois Voyer is a family-owned brand that has strong traditional emotions attached to it. This cognac brand has gained quite a popularity in the market. In fact, it is one of the few cognacs served at the best restaurants in the country.
The brand began its business in the French Revolution days and is still run by the same original family. The business has been passed to the successors since the last 5 generations, and it all began since 1870. Perhaps it truly is a family secret why we can experience one of the best available cognacs of the world, that too with a wide range of Francois Voyer’s vintage and exclusive ranges. Thanks to their masterpiece, the brand, and its variations have won more than just a few medals in worldwide competitions.
Guillon Painturaud began their farming in 1610 and is now operated by the recent generation of the family. However, by the 1970s, the brand started selling the products to other large cognac houses.
Guillon Painturaud offers VSOP that is more or less 15 years old and has an ABV of 40%. This cognac aged in french oak barrels that come from the Tronçais forest and Limousin forest.
The cognac of Guillon Painturaud tastes simple yet surprisingly elegant. When you take a sip, you will feel the flavors playing with your tongue. It has a taste of almond pastries, butter cookies, and orange rind. In addition, it comes with sweet, fruity tones anyone can hardly resist.
The Beginners Buyers Guide to Cognac
Now that we have introduced you to the best cognac brands around the world, here is a quick and short mini-guide that will help you to understand more about cognac as alcohol and everything you must know about it before trying or purchasing it from the market. However, before proceeding, you must go through the following points mentioned below for a clearer idea:
- Best ways to enjoy Cognac
There is typically more than just one way to enjoy a perfect glass of liquor, however, when it comes to Cognac, we wish to attempt no mistake, neither do we want you to. So, if you wonder how to enjoy cognac, the best ways are to:
- Drink cognac with two ice cubes that will perfectly dilute the cognac as well as reduce the alcohol percentage.
- Drink it neat with with few drops of water. It will help you unleash the exact aroma of the cognac. This will also help you determine if your cognac is sweet, spicy fruity, and all three of them altogether.
- You can also pair cognac with food items like chocolate, or dried apricot, fatty cheese, and licorice, or candied fruits. You can also pair cognac with your lunch and dinner. In fact, it pairs pretty well with seafood items.
- Best glass to enjoy Cognac
Cognac is less about the alcohol and more about the taste, flavor, and aroma. This is why adding a little bit of water is always a necessary suggestion. However, you can enjoy cognac right after you pour it into your favorite glass, but to truly enjoy it, you can use a long glass filled with many, at least more than 2-3 ice cubes. You can also try the cognac snifter glass to experience the ultimate traditional cognac drinking moment.
How is it made
Cognac is one of the finest alcohols you can ever try, but wonder how exactly is it made? Well, let us find out:
Gather the raw materials
The most important material, grapes, plays an important in the production of Cognac. Even so, the perfect grapes that are used to distill are Saint Emilion and Colombard. Apart from that, other grapes like Monfis, Sauvignon, Blanche, and Folle Juirancon are also used to produce cognac.
The grapes are typically harvested during the winter season. During this time, the grapes are capable of producing juice that can be converted into 8-9% alcohol.
- Pressing grapes
The grapes are made to produce the juice and are left alone to ferment naturally without added sugar.
- The first distillation
Once the fermentation the juices are poured into a pot and are heated between 173 degrees to 212 degrees celsius. By this time, the alcohol will vaporize and get separated. Once the vapor is collected, they are then forwarded into the condenser coil, which is also known as broullis. Once the condensed liquid is reduced to its one-third amount, it also measures 30% ABV.
- The second distillation
The heating process takes place for the second time. During this time, the distiller will decide when to isolate the liquid and separate it properly from the other elements. The liquid that stays back is reduced, but it also measures 70% ABV. It requires at least 9 liters of wine to create the perfect liter of cognac.
- Cask your cognac
Once the liquid is transferred into the oak casks, the casks get stored in big warehouses. Once the experts give the green signal of a perfectly blended cognac, they are then sent for bottling.
The Most Expensive Bottle of Cognac in the world is the 258 years old Gautier Cognac 1762. This extraordinary cognac was sold at an auction for $144,525. Gautier Cognac 1762 is known to be the oldest vintage cognac to exist. Cognac Gautier was founded in the year of 1755 by Charles Gautier. Not only the Gautier Cognac 1762 but also the company is known to be one of the oldest french cognac producing companies.
Glossary of terms. What you need to know for Cognac
When you become an alcoholic person, you will realize it is more than just sipping a glass or two at a party. Here are a few popular terms that will help you to understand more about cognac:
- Blend: it refers to the mixture of Eaux de vie that is required to create cognac. Eaux de Vie plays an important role in amplifying the rich and unique taste of the cognac.
- Eau de vie: it is the double-distilled wine that has been aged in oak barrels.
- XO: XO or Extra Old refers to the age of the cognac. Generally, XO is the category of those cognacs that age more than seven years. However, some XO cognacs are also aged 30 years and older.
- VS: VS or Very Special is at least four and a half years old cognac.
- VSOP: VSOP or Very Special Old Pale cognacs are mostly between the age of four to six and a half years old.
- Alembic: it is a distilling process that heats and then cools down the liquid to produce cognac.
- Barrels: oak barrels are the typical containers that help the cognac mature and bloom flavors and an elegant aroma.
- Fine: A cognac that is 100% original and comes from the land it is blended in, is considered to be a Fine Cognac bottle.
- Appellation: the term refers to the origin that controls the cognac. It should be controlled under IAOC or International Government Bureau.
- Grapes: The grapes play an important role in creating the perfect bottle of cognac. That is why Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Folle Blanche are chosen as the best and the primary grapes required in order to produce cognac.
- House: Here, in terms of Cognac, a house is just not where ordinary people live. By House in the language of Cognac, we mean the large houses that are also known as the original places for the distillers to distill cognac. However, since the very beginning, The Cognac House has been one of the only cognac producers that have been in the game since day 1.
- Maturing: Maturing takes place when the alcohol stays put in the oak barrels for years. During this exact process, the cognac begins to develop its color, intensity, as well as its taste. This is why, the longer we wait, the better quality we get in terms of most of the alcohols.
Just like everybody else, we choose the brands that are:
- Smooth texture, flavor
It is important for your cognac to be very smooth in taste. This will give you the ultimate experience of enjoying cognac. In fact, not just that, the alcohol that is smoother will act as a great base for cocktails and other incredibly mixed drinks.
- Easy on the throat, easy on your pocket
Cognacs can be a little out of budget sometimes, but never too expensive. At least not the ones we choose for you. They are pretty affordable and will give you the best taste.
- A cognac full of flavors
Not only the texture but also the flavors in your cognac matters the most. It is because, as we mentioned earlier, cognac is not just about the alcohol; it is about the aroma and its delightful taste. Therefore, our list mostly pins down the best cognac brands that will let you experience a fruity, floral, and spicy glass of cognac.
- The age of your cognac
The minimum of the cognac must be between 4 to 6 years. Anything above is nothing but pure bliss that will flatter down your throat while your tongue feels every single ingredient of the cognac. You must select between XO, VSOP, and VS cognac bottles offered by popular brands.
- If your cognac is vintage
Vintage cognacs are special and exclusive and are only available in the market based on their origin. Even so, these brands offer cognac made from wines that come from the five important regions in Cognac; Borderies, Fins Bois, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Bons Bois.