Top 10 Best Cognac Brands & Where To Buy Cognac In The USA
Top 10 Best Cognac Brands & Where To Buy Cognac In The USACharles-Philippe2020-12-08T09:17:29-05:00
Cognac is a wonderfully but somewhat mysterious alcoholic spirit and it can be confusing when learning about it. While it helps to learn about how cognac is made, a little guidance on the best brands is a great way to start.
In this guide, you will discover the top 10 best cognac brands that you can buy online in the USA:
We’ll be using a lot of terminology linked to the grapes and ages of cognac in this guide. If you are unfamiliar with any of these, simply head to our guide to how cognac is made where you’ll learn everything that you need to know.
A 100% Grande Champagne blend of up to 1,200 different eaux-de-vie, Louis XIII is an emblematic cognac synonymous with luxury and savoir-faire. Louis XIII cognac is aged using century-old “tierçon” Limousin oak barrels that used to be used for transporting cognac by horse.
Of the cognacs inside the blend, some are over 60 years old. The result is a beautifully harmonious spirit with a delicate bouquet that gently delivers a tableau of flavours, which include citrus fruit, raisins, and suede leather.
Louis XIII is well-known as an expensive and premium cognac. Indeed, a typical 75 cl bottle costs over $4,000. However, there are miniature 50 ml bottles that can be purchased for $660 if you ever wish to sample it for yourself.
"A beautifully harmonious spirit with a delicate bouquet that gently delivers a tableau of flavours."
Bespoke Unit Rating: ★★★★★
2. Hennessy XO Cognac
Country of Origin: France
Region: Grande & Petite Champagne, Borderies, & Fins Bois
Among the most premium XO cognacs is the famous blend produced by Hennessy. Its XO is composed of Ugni Blanc eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fin Bois, which are all aged for up to 30 years in Limousin oak barrels.
Hennessy XO offers a nose of spicy candied fruits with a hint a pepper. On the palate, you can expect notes of oranges, warm oak, and leather, with a long cinnamon and vanilla finish.
Rémy Martin’s XO is a traditional Fine Champagne, which means that the blend only consists of marrying Grande and Petite Champagne crus. For the Excellence, the features 85% Grande Champagne and 15% Fine Champagne, which have been aged for up to 37 years in Limousin oak barrels.
Its nose is floral but dominated by candied citrus, which is extended on the palate with additional cinnamon spice and a faint nuttiness. Its mouthfeel is lively and not quite as smooth as you would expect, favouring a mildly biting finish.
Unlike the cognacs above, Courvoisier combines both Limousin and Tronçais oak barrels for its XO blend. These barrels are used to age eaux-de-vie from Petite Champagne, Grande Champagne, and the Borderies zones for up to 35 years.
The result is a harmony of crème brûlée and candied orange with a hint of vanilla, which crescendos to a long finish with a particular mellow sweetness.
As you’ll notice with V.S.O.P. cognacs, they generally tend to be much more affordable than X.O. blends. For instance, the Hennessy V.S.O.P Privlège is almost a quarter of the price of the X.O.
There are many reasons for the price difference, which are often linked with the ages of the eaux-de-vie. Needless to say, older cognac requires more time to age and the angel’s share is much more severe. As a result, it’s rarer and a rather precious.
Nevertheless, there are many excellent V.S.O.P cognacs on the market. For instance, Hine’s Rare is a Fine Champagne Ugni Blanc blend that consists of just over 20 eaux-de-vies from the Grande and Petite Champagne zones.
Distilled “on the lees” or with the wine’s yeast, it’s a remarkably complex experience with an opulent yet soft mouthfeel. It’s wonderfully fruity with vinous notes of exotic fruits that are contrasted against suede leather before a warm, spicy finish.
6. Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac
Country of Origin: France
Region: Grande & Petite Champagne, Fins Bois, Borderies
A more affordable XO cognac, Martell’s Cordon Bleu features a blend of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois eaux-de-vie, which have been aged for up to 25 years.
Expect a nose that delivers spicy notes of coriander and fig as well as sandalwood. The fig aromas extend onto the palate with a distinctive hint of cassis, which eventually leads to a finish of prune and cinnamon.
Hennessy’s Master Blender’s Selection series offers an exciting and alternative insight into cognac, which is more reminiscent of local producers than an international label. Each Master Blender’s Selection is a truly limited run and only a single batch has been produced.
Its third instalment is Fillioux de Gironde’s first creation since he succeeded his uncle, Yanna Fillioux, as Hennessy’s Maître de Chai. With rare eaux-de-vie aged for at least seven years, this cognac is technically a Napoléon.
However, its 43% ABV strength is but one clue that the Master Blender’s Selection shouldn’t be treated like regular cognac. Its flavours feature less accent of the No 2’s woodiness but instead lean towards an alluring fruitiness with notes of raisins, baking spices, and mulled wine.
8. Hennessy VSOP Privilège Cognac
Country of Origin: France
Region: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins Bois, Borderies
Hennessy’s Privilège is composed of over 60 different Ugni Blanc eaux-de-vie batches from Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois. As a result, it’s a wonderfully complex but more youthful cognac with a spicy apple pie nose and vanilla-oak aromas on the palate.
If you’re looking to experience the world-famous cognac producer, the V.S.O.P. Privilège is a good entry-level option.
Rather than simply call it a V.S.O.P., Rémy Martin pays hommage to the year Louis XV of France granted land to Rémy Martin with this blend’s name. A Fine Champagne cognac, it consists of 65% Grande Champagne and 35% Petite Champagne.
Overall, 240 eaux-de-vie have been used in its composition, which have been aged for up to 20 years. Despite a tart citrus nose, Accord Royal delivers butterscotch and warm spices on the palate, which reveals light tannins and gourmand chocolate. Its medium to long finish offers hazelnuts and vanilla.
Say what you will about celebrities and their involvement with spirits, 50 Cent’s cognac is an excellent specimen of single-cru cognac. Produced by Raymond Ragnaud , a 7-generation distiller, Branson V.S.O.P. is made solely using Grande Champagne eau-de-vie, which has been aged for up to 7 years.
Intense in flavour, this cognac presents tobacco and fruity notes on the nose alongside clove and cinnamon spice. You can expect the same marriage of flavours on the palate with additional vanilla as well as a long liquorice and candied fruit finish.
Where To Buy Cognac In The USA?
Surprisingly or not, the USA is cognac’s largest market and represents yearly imports of 6.1 million 9-litre cases per year. Therefore, it’s easy to conclude that acquiring cognac in the USA is not difficult.
Indeed, cognac can be found in just about any liquor or convenience store with a license. However, while the quantity is certainly there, quality is another matter entirely.
In most cases, stores will retail young V.S. cognac, which although isn’t always bad, it doesn’t offer the best experience or value for money that cognac can give you.
Fortunately, online shopping has made it much easier to source quality cognac. We’re particularly fond of using Reserve Bar as it has developed a number of partnerships directly with the producers. Meanwhile, Drizly works with your local liquor stores, which can be very handy for discovering what is sold nearby.
Finally, we’d like to clarify that we’ve listed the best cognacs that are easy to find in the list above. After all, Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, and Rémy Martin represent 90% of the market in the USA.
There is much more to cognac than just these four brands. Overall, there are nearly 200 cognac houses in total, which doesn’t even count the local producers that create some of cognac’s most exquisite specimens. Sadly, these can be very challenging to find in the USA so we didn’t feature them here.
How Much Does Cognac Cost?
Although it may vary slightly, cognac prices are relatively consistent. Needless to say, older cognacs are more expensive and some Hors d’Âge blends like Louis XIII can easily cost several thousand dollars.
However, a typical X.O. cognac will usually cost somewhere between $120 and $200 depending on the brand’s prominence. Meanwhile, V.S.O.P. cognacs are much cheaper and will rarely set you back more than $75. Of course, there are some exceptions and a few unique specimens may cost somewhat more.
We used a lot of terms like V.S.O.P., Grande Champagne, and Maître de Chai. You can learn what these mean and more with our guide to how cognac is made.
Furthermore, we’ve also written a guide on the best cigars to enjoy with cognac too. Therefore, if you’re fond of cigars, be sure to check that out for a full sensory experience!
Otherwise, now that you have read about the best cognac brands, why don’t you check out more of our resources?