Exports of Cognac increased for a fourth consecutive year in 2018 – an indication that the category shows no signs of slowing. We present the best value-for-money expressions on the market.
The Spirits Business held its annual Cognac Masters last month, where an experienced panel of judges recognised the best bottlings in the business.
Looking across multiple categories, from VSOP Premium to XO Single Cru and Vintage, a wide range of Cognacs were awarded the top accolades of Master and Gold medals for their quality.
The individual scores of each entrant have not been revealed, however these were 10 of the highest rated medallists in the competition, in no particular order.
While some expressions carry a more premium price tag, our judges have given each Cognac listed here the seal of approval for offering excellent quality within their respective price categories – meaning you can part with your hard-earned cash with confidence.
Click through to the following pages to view the top 10 best value for money Cognacs of 2019.
In the super-premium vintage Cognacs round, a Master medal was given to one of the world’s biggest Cognac houses: Courvoisier.
The brand’s Napoleon bottling was deemed to be “really well balanced” with a “harmonious combination of flavours”.
Bottled at 40% abv, Courvoisier Napoleon is a blend of matured grande and petite Champagnes at their peak.
Cognac Frapin – Chateau Fontpinot XO
Price: £105 (US$137.56)
A Master medal was bestowed upon Cognac Frapin’s Château Fontpinot XO expression in the XO – Single Cru round.
One judge noted: “This Cognac has all of the complexity you want and nothing is out of balance. It’s almost architectural.”
The Cognac is distilled over lees and made from grapes harvested, distilled, aged and bottled at Château Fontpinot.
Naud Cognac XO
Price: £71 (US$93)
Gold medallist Naud Cognac XO delighted judges in the super-premium Cognac round.
The Cognac won plaudits for its “rich and vibrant nose” and its “woody palate with dried fruits and raisins”.
Produced by Famille Naud Master Distillers, Naud Cognac XO is a blend of grapes from grande Champagne and grapes from Fins Bois.
Price: £77.95 (US$102.11)
In the XO – Ultra Premium round, Cognac house Courvoisier grabbed another Master for its Courvoisier XO.
Judges said the expression was a clear example of “what you get when you pay more for age and depth”, with “harsh alcohol turning into complexity, creating something quite special”.
Despite its rich rancio character, the Cognac managed to maintain its “vibrancy and freshness”.
The 40% abv Cognac contains long-aged eaux-de-vie from grande and petite Champagne.
Camus Very Special
Price: €36.90 (US$41.32)
In the higher-priced VS – Super Premium flight, Camus Very Special won Gold for its “good articulation of flavour”, which judges agreed was “subtle and elegant”.
Camus Very Special was distilled with lees and aged in grain French oak small barrels. According to the brand, the expression boasts an extremely high concentration in esters.
Ferrand Reserve Double Cask
The “dry” Ferrand Reserve Double Cask grabbed a Gold medal in the VSOP – Super Premium round. “I could have carried on picking flavours from this Cognac for ages,” one judge said. “It’s got some really interesting flavours that have been well integrated, such as redcurrant jam and coconut water.”
The expression has been aged first in traditional French oak Cognac casks and then in casks that once held Banyuls, a fortified wine produced and aged in the south of France since the 13th century.
The French oak Cognac has been matured for seven to 10 years in different ageing cellars – some dry and some humid. This liquid is then blended with 20-year-old Cognac and placed in Banyuls casks, which are matured in humid cellars for a further year.
Price: £249.99 (US$327.47)
Bacardi-owned Cognac brand D’Ussé XO was awarded a Gold medal in the XO – Ultra premium round.
Cellar master Michel Casavecchia hand selected eaux-de-vie from the cellars of the château de Cognac to craft D’Ussé XO. The eaux-de-vie has been aged for 10 years or more in French oak barrels.
Cognac Frapin – Millésime 1990
Price: £140 (US$183.39)
A second Master medal was given to Cognac Frapin for its Millésime 1990 expression in the Vintage – Single Cru round, which assessed Cognacs made exclusively from grapes grown in one of the region’s recognised crus.
The expression was praised for its flavour of “rancio and evolved fruit”, as well as “tropical fruit and vanilla”.
Made from the ugni blanc grape, the Millésime 1990 – 27 Years Old originates from the Les Gabloteaux vineyard located on the western side of Domaine Frapin.
Price: £150 (US$196.44)
Produced by French drinks group Pernod Ricard, Martell XO won a Gold medal in the XO – Ultra Premium flight.
The Cognac is a blend of grande Champagne and Borderies eaux-de-vie. Martell XO pays tribute to Martell’s founder Jean Martell.
Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac
Price: £40.95 (US$53.63)
In the VSOP Premium leg, Gold medallist Merlet Brothers Blend Cognac was praised for having notes of “masala and some woodiness”.
One judge noted: “The palate was all about orange peel and zest. It’s a Cognac that has progressed into early adulthood. It’s fluid.”
Produced by liqueurs maker Merlet, the expression is a blend of eaux-de-vie aged between four and 10 years.