Top 10 award-winning CognacsBy Nicola Carruthers
As demand soars for France’s national spirit, distillers have continued to innovate in the category with bottlings of superb quality. We present some of the most acclaimed Cognacs from our latest taste test.
Consumer interest in Cognac has risen in recent years, boosted by accessible products and innovative line extensions.
To assess the quality of some of the bottlings on the market, we held our Cognac Masters blind-tasting competition last month.
The competition was judged over Zoom by Tobias Gorn, spirits specialist, consultant and writer, and co‐founder of International Drinks Specialists, and Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business and chair of the tasting.
Wine Sorted shipped the bottles to the judges’ homes, ensuring that the products were labelled anonymously.
From vintage bottlings to XO Cognacs, the blind tasting gave out a high number of Master, Gold and Silver medals to worthy entrants.
To see 10 products that walked away a Master or Gold medal, click through to the following page.
Cognac Frapin – Cigar Blend XO
Price: £100 (US$141)
The “rich and resinous” Cognac Frapin – Cigar Blend XO was bestowed with a Master medal in the XO – Single Cru flight.
Tasting notes included “warming spices, a hint of black pepper, vanilla and burnt caramel sweetness”. One member of the panel said the Cognac was “complex, long and super fresh”.
The expression has been distilled over lees and aged in Limousin oak barrels for 20 years.
Price: £50 (US$71)
The No Age Statement – Super‐Premium heat saw a Master medal go to “fresh and bold” La Pouyade.
The Cognac impressed with its “hint of nuttiness on the palate” with “raisins and caramel”, and a “touch of bitterness on the finish” for added complexity.
La Pouyade is named after the Fillioux family’s estate and is made exclusively from grapes grown in Grande Champagne.
Rémy Martin XO
Price: £133 (US$188)
A tasting of ultra-premium XO Cognacs saw a Master go to Rémy Martin XO.
The Cognac was described as “beautiful and bold” with “sticky fudge, a hint of pear, spices, cinnamon” and an “overall great balance”.
The expression also secured the top title of Taste Master following a retaste of all the Master medallists. “This was silky smooth and so easy to drink – dangerously good stuff,” added one judge.
Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula
Price: £44 (US$62)
Cognac house Ferrand was awarded a Master medal for its Ferrand Cognac 1840 Original Formula.
The expression was lauded for its “fruity nose, peaches and grape juice” with “caramel sweetness, toffee apples and a nice spice” on the finish.
The VS Cognac is made with an original recipe from 1840, using grapes grown in the Grande Champagne region.
Cognac Roullet XO Cadet
Price: £65 (US$92)
Cognac Roullet XO Cadet collected a Master medal in the XO – Super Premium flight for being “delicious and fresh” with “lots of fruit, peaches – a juicy Cognac”.
According to the brand, the 40% ABV expression is ‘rich in notes of prunes, figs, almonds, complemented by nuances of spices, revealing hints of honey and sandalwood’.
Courvoisier Napoleon Fine Champagne
Price: £125 (US$177)
A tasting of vintage Cognacs in the premium price bracket saw a Gold medal go to Courvoisier Napoleon Fine Champagne, which delivered flavours of “cedar wood, toasted nuts, cocoa powder and vanilla”.
Bottled at 40% ABV, Courvoisier Napoleon is a blend of matured grande and petite Champagnes at their peak. The brand is owned by Beam Suntory.
Hermitage 1990 Grande Champagne Cognac
Price: £157.90 (US$223)
Hermitage Cognac secured a Master medal in the Vintage – Ultra-Premium round for its “complex and superbly balanced” Hermitage 1990 Grande Champagne Cognac.
The judges found notes of “orange peel, dried apricots and mahogany wood” on the nose, leading to a “silky smooth texture” and “spices” on the palate.
One member of the panel said: “It was super long, with fresh fruit, prune juice, nutty elements – really long and expressive. There are these sort of leather armchair notes, it’s quite classic but done properly.”
Rome de Bellegarde XO
Price: £3,614 (US$5,109)
Rome de Bellegarde XO stormed to success in the XO – Ultra Premium flight, grabbing a Gold medal.
Rome De Bellegarde is described as the ‘most expensive Cognac in the world’. It has a history that dates back to 1725 in the French province of Grande Champagne.
According to the company, the XO Cognac is said to ‘balance intense aromas in a complex and elegant way’.
Return to Saint-Aulaye
Price: £88 (US$124)
The VSOP – Single Cru flight saw a Gold medal go to Return to Saint‐Aulaye by Camus.
A “touch grassy” on the nose, the Cognac delivered “sticky toffee pudding” on the palate, along with “dried fruit and a slight tropical element”.
Return to Saint-Aulaye is a 2016 vintage Cognac made using eaux-de-vie matured for four years in French barrels produced with oak sourced from the forest surrounding the village.
A de Fussigny Pure Organic
Price: £50 (US$71)
After tasting a flight of VSOP – Super Premium Cognacs, the judges gave a Master medal to A de Fussigny Pure Organic for offering a “fresh, bright aroma with cereal notes and caramel”.
The palate brought “big, bold flavours” with “warming spice, a touch of chilli heat and dark chocolate – a really beautiful Cognac”.
Located on the banks of the Charente river, A de Fussigny estate’s distillery and cellars date back to 1814.