Christopher Osburn
17 Best Cognac Brands to Drink Right Now | Man of Many
While Man of Many are sticklers for research and certainly know a thing or two about Cognac, that didn’t stop them from turning to the experts for this list. They compiled this list through the personal experience of author Christopher Osburn and online research from drinks critics and expert cognac reviewers. Man of Many only looked at higher-rated Cognacs through Dan Murphy’s reviews and took into account the major gripes and positives from the public. For the most part, they’re sticking with globally recognised names that you either know and love or should know and love, such as Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Martell, and Courvoisier, but they’re also throwing a few curveballs your way courtesy of their findings.
How Man of Many Chose This List of Cognac
In order to choose the best cognac from our list below, you’ll have to figure a few things out first.
How to Choose the Best Cognac
One of the biggest names in the cognac world, Hennessy seems to spend just as much on marketing as it does on distilling. But just because it’s a flashy brand, that doesn’t mean it should be avoided. With more than 250 years of history and seven generations of cognac makers, there’s a reason Hennessy is one of the most well-known cognac makers in the world. Its popular Hennessy VS is a great example of this. With more than 40 Eaux de vies (unaged brandy) included from the four main growing regions, it’s known for its fruity, caramel, and vanilla flavour.
1. Hennessy
Founded way back in 1724, Rémy Martin is one of the oldest cognac producers in the world. One of the biggest cognac houses, Rémy Martin produces myriad different popular expressions. One of its more notable expressions is its VSOP. Aged two times longer than VS, it’s known for its flavors of dried fruits, vanilla beans, licorice, and its easy-drinking, mellow flavour. It’s the kind of cognac that will make you want to try everything the brand has to offer.
2. Rémy Martin
Pierre Ferrand has become a well-known name in the cognac world in a relatively short time. While some of the other cognac houses can trace their genesis to the 18th and 19th centuries, Alexandre Gabriel founded Pierre Ferrand in 1989. In the years since, its fanbase has grown thanks largely to consistently great, well-made expressions like its Pierre Ferrand 1840. Known for its slightly spicy, fruity, honey, and caramel-centric flavour profile, it’s a great place to start with this cognac house.
3. Pierre Ferrand
The vast majority of the best cognac châteaux have been in the game for centuries, and Hine is certainly no exception. Since 1763, the acclaimed brand has been turning grapes into greatness by way of abundant resources and expert production techniques. Virtually everything this top cognac house produces strikes a distinctive accord, and no two releases in the Vintage Collection are exactly the same.
4. Hine
You might know some of the other cognac houses better, but Martell is actually the oldest of the ‘big four’ (Hennessy, Courvoisier, and Rémy Martin are the others). Founded in 1715 by Jean Martell, the brand makes one of the best gateway cognacs on the market. Martell Blue Swift is a VSOP that is finished in ex-bourbon barrels. The result is a bold, rich cognac with notes of oaky wood, vanilla beans, dried fruits, and just a hint of wintry spice at the finish.
5. Martell
When we think of cognac houses with foreign-born founders, this usually means Ireland, England, or somewhere else in the British Isles. If you haven’t guessed already by Meukow’s name, it’s a little different than most of the other houses. That’s because its founders, Auguste-Christophe and Gustav Meukow, brothers move from Silesia (in Poland) in search of Eaux de vie. After some time, they decided to actually start their own house in 1862. With its black panther-adorned bottle Meukow VS which offers an oaky, fruity, vanilla flavour, it’s the place to start your journey.
6. Meukow
Much more than just the drink of choice of ‘The Ladies Man’, Courvoisier is the youngest of the ‘big four’ houses. With its inception in 1835 in the town of Jarnac, it’s known as the least traditional of the major houses. A VS cognac that’s a mix of young and old, each selected for its exceptional flavours of dried raisins, caramel, toasted oak, honey, and just a hint of peppery spice at the very end. This is the kind of cognac that has us coming back again and again – and we’re not alone.
7. Courvoisier
Last year Bisquit Cognac returned to its roots when it was rebranded as Bisquit & Dubouché. This was the original name of the popular brand. It was founded in 1819 by Alexandre Bisquit and Adrien Dubouché. Its surprisingly well-priced VSOP is a great way to get acquainted with the house. Made with a blend of Petite and Grande Champagne Eaux de vies, it’s known for its subtly spicy flavour profile featuring crisp apple, dark chocolate, vanilla, and oak. It’s the kind of cognac that will make you realize there is more to the spirit than simply the big names.
8. Bisquit and Dubouché
While most of the Cognac brands are entrenched in historical, traditional methods, to say Kelt is more interested in contemporary innovations is a major understatement. Instead of simply aging in a dank, cold barrelhouse, Kelt embarks on what it calls a ‘tour du monde’ where the juice matures for 3 months in Limousin barrels at sea. Yes, you read that right. It’s ocean aged. The result is a rich, mellow, fruity cognac with notable flavours like vanilla, dried fruits, and rich, warming oak.
9. Kelt
If you know anything about Louis XIII, the house likely features some of the most over-the-top, exquisite decanters in the world. Named for Louis XIII, the first monarch to list cognac as a spirit of its own, this brand was created by Rémy Martin in 1874. Known for its ridiculously old cognacs, its flagship Louis XIII cognac is a blend of Grande Champagne Eaux de vies. It’s known for its flavours of pipe tobacco, oaky, honey, and dried fruit.
10. Louis XIII
One of the largest family-owned cognac houses, Camus was founded in 1863 by Jean-Baptiste Camus. Over the years, the house has managed to stay a family business for more than five generations. Whereas most distilleries have been swallowed up (i.e. bought out) by bigger fish, Camus retains an independent streak, keeping it in the family since 1863. Nowhere is that more evident than with the Broderies Range, which consists of single-estate blends produced from the label’s own vineyards. The stamp of distinction starts with the wondrous aromas and extends to the luscious, complex taste.
11. Camus
Here we have another independent producer of the highest regard, which maintains a single estate in the heart of France’s Grande Champagne region.
12. Frapin
Many of the biggest cognac brands have seemingly ancient histories. Grosperrin wasn’t founded until 1999. And while this makes it a baby in the cognac world, it hasn’t stopped the brand from crafting high-quality, boundary-pushing spirits in the last two decades. Unlike other cognac houses, Grosperrin simply launches its cognacs by batch number. While they vary depending on the batch, the brand is known for its slightly spicy, fruity, tobacco, and vanilla-filled cognacs.
13. Grosperrin
To say D’usse is a brand for the modern cognac drinker is a bit of an understatement. Founded by Jay-z and master cellar master Michel Casavecchia, it’s produced at Château du Cognac, one of the oldest cognac houses in the country. If you’re looking to try this brand, we suggest starting with D’Usse VSOP with its palate of nutty sweetness, vanilla, honey, and cinnamon sugar.
14. D’Usse
The Pasquet vineyard has been family owned since 1730. While the grapes have been grown in the traditional way for centuries, husband and wife Jean Luc and Marie Françoise Pasquet realized that their vines weren’t in great condition so in the early ‘90s they decided to switch to organic farming. Its organic cognac is a mix of traditional methods and contemporary thinking. A great starting point with this brand is its Jean-Luc Pasquet L’Organic 10 made with a blend of organic Eaux de vies matured between 10 and 12 years.
15. Jean-Luc Pasquet
Like many cognac houses, Guillon-Painturaud can trace its history to the early 18th century. This traditional cognac house is comprised of blends using only Eaux de vie from Ugni Blanc grapes all of which are grown on the family estate. Not only that, the distillation, aging, blending, and even bottling is done on-site. Its VSOP is beloved for its notes of candied orange peels, honey, tropical fruits, dried cherries, and sweet caramel.
16. Guillon-Painturaud
Gran Mariner differentiates itself from the other cognac brands because it’s more than just a cognac. In fact, due to its recipe, it’s not a cognac at all. Even though it contains cognac, it’s a liqueur because it also contains sugar and bitter orange flavours. While it comes in a wide range of expressions, its Cordon Rouge with its flavours of caramel, candied orange peels, and nutty sweetness is the most well-known by far.
17. Grand Marnier
In the simplest terms, Cognac is a type of brandy that comes from a specific area of France.
What is Cognac?
Not only is it a specific type of Brandy, but it’s made in accordance with strict regulations.
How is Cognac Made?
When the cognac finally lands in the bottle, its adjoining age statement denotes the youngest vintage in the blend. There are three general age statements:
What are the Different Types of Cognacs?
While there’s no wrong way to drink cognac, most enthusiasts enjoy sipping it neat. Like with whisky, some drinkers like to add a few drops of water to open it up and release more flavour. But some people like to mix with it like whiskey or sip it on the rocks.
How Should You Drink Cognac?
All cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. Specifically, brandy is a spirit made by distilling wine. Therefore, cognac is a brandy just like tequila is a mezcal or an IPA is a beer. Cognac is a brandy, but it’s a specific type of French brandy that must be produced in a specific area of Southwest France and follow certain guidelines and rules. It’s more complicated than that, but this is the simplest explanation.
What’s the Difference Between French Cognac and Brandy?
Frequently Asked Cognac Questions
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