Cognac is the most well-known and prestigious brandy. Although, a common ingredient in cocktails, the French favorite is most commonly consumed suis generis.
Quick Sips: The taste profile varies greatly dependent on variety. However, most cognac features some heat and grape notes off the nose. The taste is slightly sweet, slightly grapes, boozy, and filled with florals and orchard fruits. In short, it tastes like something one should drink by the fire after a long meal.
Regions: Cognac is exclusively the product of grapes from the region of the same name slightly northeast of Bourdeaux. The prized area is subdivided into five crus and one zone: six zones are: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bon Bois and Bois Ordinaries.
• A.C.: Two years old. Aged in wood.
• V.O., Very Old: Aged a minimum of four years.
• V.S., Very Special: Three years of aging in wooden casks. Very often called Three Star.
• V.S.O.P., Very Superior Old Pale: Minimum aging is eight years in wood for the youngest in the blend. Industry average is between 10 and 15 years old inspiring the name Five Star.
• X.O., Extra Old: Also called Luxury. Has a minimum age of eight years. This class also can include Napoleon and Vielle (“Reserve”).
• Napoleon/Extra/Vielle Reserve: At least four years old, but more often significantly older.
• Hors d’Age: So old that the age is unknown. If you find one, drink it. Neat. ASAP.