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The Cognac Masters 2024 results

While the sector has been buffeted by problems caused by destocking in the US, Cognac in the bottle continues to impress, as our judges discovered during this year’s staging of our annual blind tasting.

Cognacs of all ages and styles were celebrated during The Cognac Masters 2024

Cognac is a category that felt the highs of the Covid-19 rebound intensely in 2022, but also the surplus impact of 2023. Export volume fell by a fifth in 2023 (21.1%), and by 14.8% in value terms to €13.9 billion (US$ 14.9bn), data from the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins & Spiritueux (Fevs) showed. Much of this was because of destocking in the US.

“This decline is a wake-up call for exporting companies,” Fevs president Gabriel Picard said about the total decline of French wine and spirits exports.

He said: “It reminds us of the continued need to adapt to changing consumer and market demands. It also demonstrates how much the sustainability of the export success of wines and spirits requires strong and long-lasting support from the public authorities: new markets must be opened, and others must also be prevented from closing, in particular through trade-retaliatory measures.”

It must be noted, though, that Cognac remains a revered category worldwide – and the results of this year’s Cognac Masters blind tasting showed there is much quality to be found throughout subcategories and price points. To put the category through its paces, two panels of judges were assembled at Fazenda Bishopsgate in London.

The first panel included: Ruchira Neotia, founder of Neo Margarita; Matt Chambers, spirits writer and co-founder of the Whisky For Everyone blog; and Luke Williams, assistant buyer at Harrods. Melita Kiely, editor of The Spirits Business, and chair of The Global Spirits Masters Competitions, chaired the group.

Panel two included: Evan Prousaefs, bar manager at Sexy Fish in London; Dr Winnie Bowman, Cape wine master, wine and spirits judge and writer; Antony Moss, spirits judge and consultant; and David T Smith, spirits writer, consultant and co-founder of the Craft Distilling Expo, who chaired the team.

The tasting started with a flight of premium VS Cognacs, each priced up to £30 (US$38). Two Gold medals and a Silver made for a promising start to the day. The Gold medals went to “expressive and well-balanced” Honor VS Cognac and Courvoisier VS, which “nicely balanced sweetness and spice”.

Two more Gold medals were awarded at the next price point, which looked at VS Cognacs sitting in the super-premium bracket (£31-£50). Ferrand 1840 secured a Gold medal for being “rich, indulgent” on the nose, showcasing “distinct ageing” on the palate. Larsen Aqua Ignis was also awarded Gold for “creaminess and vanilla” notes.

The first Master

When the judges moved to the VSOP – Premium heat, which looked at Cognacs priced between £30 and £50, the first Master-worthy spirit was uncovered. Larsen VSOP received the top award for its “lovely silky texture – very luxurious”. In terms of flavour, the Cognac delivered “apricots, caramel, gently building spice – delicious and great value for money”.

“If you spend £30-£50 on this, what more could you expect?” noted Chambers. “It’s exactly what a typical VSOP should be: bold, fruity, sweet, with underlying spice. The balance was great.”

A trio of Gold medals were also awarded in this heat, including two for Martell – Noblige and VSOP – alongside four Silver medals.

“All of these would have a great spot on the back bar,” said Neotia.

Top scorers impressed with their complexity

Three more Gold awards and a Silver medal were celebrated in the super-premium heat (£51-£70). Ferrand Ambré was among the Gold medal winners, enjoyed for flavours of “caramelised apricot, raisins, milk chocolate and golden syrup”. Larsen’s Renault Carte Noire VSOP grabbed a Gold for its “fruity palate; good level of spice and fresh fruit”. Meanwhile, Kelt Cognac Rare VSOP won Gold for notes of “walnut and praline, orange fondant and warming baking spices”.

L’Époque Avant Garde VSOP took home a Gold medal in the VSOP – Ultra Premium (£71-plus) heat. The Cognac impressed with its “gorgeous spectrum of floral, dried fruit, grape skin, and sweet, woody depth”. A Silver medal for Shay by Le Portier completed the flight.

Martell cleaned up in the VSOP – Single Cru contingent with two Golds, and a Master medal for Martell Single Crus Fins Bois. The Cognac was described as “very dry, with lovely floral notes of cherry blossom and violet”. Cognac brand Camus also won Gold for its “rich and exciting” Cognac Camus VSOP Borderies Single Estate.

The tasting moved on to the VSOP – Single Estate flight, in which Domaines Francis Abecassis had a strong result, collecting a Master and two Gold medals. The top accolade was presented to ABK6 Cognac VSOP. The judges found the aroma to be “very typical” of a VSOP style; they were impressed by flavours of “almond and marzipan” on the palate, with “peach and apricot”.

Cognac Frapin VSOP also secured a Gold medal in this heat, liked for its notes of “soft vanilla and jasmine”. Chambers said: “The fact they’re different is good; you want to see something unique from single estate.”

After the flights of VSOP, the tasting moved to older XO Cognacs, starting with super-premium products, priced from £56 to £100. Iris Poivré won a Gold medal, and Larsen XO received a Silver.

The ultra-premium segment of the XO category – Cognacs retailing for £101 and above – produced two Master winners. The first was “very elegantly made” Martell XO, which delivered tastes of “cinnamon buns and oak spice” on the palate. Chambers described the Cognac as “an absolute belter”.

Master-winning L’Époque Baroque XO impressed with its complex flavour profile: “Fudge, medjool dates, Christmas cake, a touch of dark cocoa, booze-soaked dried fruits.” Among the seven Gold medallists were Courvoisier XO Royal, which had “dry wine notes and a rounded texture”, and Kelt Cognac XO, which offered “spice and dryness, and a resinous quality”. Two Silver medals completed the flight.

“Cognac is having to work harder now,” said Williams. “There is a lot of value to be found in this part of the category. This price point is where there’s going to be a lot of growth and excitement.”

Martell added to its medal haul in the following flight, XO – Single Cru. The producer picked up a Silver medal for Martell Single Cru Grande Champagne XO.

Savoury notes

Three Gold medals were sampled in the XO – Single Estate heat, including a Gold medal for Cognac Frapin 15 Years Old. The judges found some “savoury notes” leading to “raisins, sultanas, caramel and spice”.

Next came a flight of no-age-statement super-premium Cognacs, which delivered a Gold medal for Kelt Cognac Cask Strength, which offered “Cadbury Creme Egg and fondant”. But the top Master award went to Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal. Moss said: “Lovely mix of brightness and depth, including violet and sultanas; very smooth.”

Rémy Martin continued to collect more medals in the No Age Statement – Single Estate round, adding two Golds to its growing tally. Rémy Martin Tercet was described as “very chocolatey” on the nose, leading to “raisin, candied orange peel, and baking spices” on the palate. Gold-winning Rémy Martin Club had a “good texture” and “balanced sweetness, with light spice”.

Aromas of “floral and citrus peel” and tastes of “vanilla, butterscotch and orange essence” secured Martingale Cognac a Gold medal in the No Age Statement – Single Estate flight.

The Cognac Masters 2024 judges

As the final few subcategories were poured, another Master medal brightened the day: Famille Lanville by Imperial Cognac. The Master was handed out in the XXO – Single Cru flight. “Deliciously complex,” noted the judges, who picked up notes of “furniture polish, raisins, dates, caramel and oak”.

Ange Noir received a Gold medal in the Single Vintage flight. Tasting notes included “very dark rich fruits” leading to some “liquorice and rancio”.

The final round, Vintage – Ultra Premium, presented the final Gold medal of the day to Naud Extra Cognac. “Lovely jammy palate, round and full-bodied,” the judges praised.

After resetting their palates, both judging panels came together to retaste the Master medallists. The final task was to determine the Cognac most deserving of the ultimate award: the title of Cognac Taste Master 2024.

After deliberating over fresh pours of each winner, the judges agreed this year’s Taste Master should be Martell XO. Neotia added: “It was melodic in how harmonious the blending is.”

The strong medal scores across the broad selection of categories confirmed quality remains high in Cognac houses. Despite the aforementioned destocking challenges that remain, its quality control should put the sector in a good stead for a long-term prosperous future.

The Brandy Masters 2024 results were also published this week.

VS – Premium
Company Product Medal
Honor Cognac Company Honor VS Cognac Gold
Courvoisier Courvoisier VS Gold
Martell & Co Martell VS Silver


VS – Super Premium
Company Product Medal
Maison Ferrand Pierre Ferrand 1840 Gold
Larsen le Cognac des Vikings Larsen Aqua Ignis Gold


VSOP – Premium
Company Product Medal
Larsen le Cognac des Vikings Larsen VSOP Master
Martell & Co Martell Noblige Gold
Martell & Co Martell VSOP Gold
Rémy Martin Rémy Martin VSOP Gold
Courvoisier Courvoisier VSOP Silver
Maison Boinaud Cognac De Luze VSOP Silver
Maison Ferrand Ferrand 10 Générations Silver
Honor Cognac Company Honor VSOP Cognac Silver


VSOP – Super Premium
Company Product Medal
Maison Ferrand Pierre Ferrand Ambré Gold
Larsen le Cognac des Vikings Renault Carte Noire VSOP Gold
Kelt Cognac Kelt Cognac Rare VSOP Gold
Camus La Grande Marque Cognac Camus VSOP Silver


VSOP – Ultra Premium
Company Product Medal
Maison L’Époque L’Époque Avant Garde VSOP Gold
Le Portier Shay by Le Portier Silver


VSOP – Single Cru
Company Product Medal
Martell & Co Single Cru Fins Bois Master
Martell & Co Single Cru Petite Champagne Gold
Martell & Co Single Cru Borderies Gold
Camus La Grande Marque Cognac Camus VSOP Borderies Single Estate Gold


VSOP – Single Estate
Company Product Medal
Domaines Francis Abecassis ABK6 Cognac VSOP Master
Domaines Francis Abecassis Abecassis Cognac Grande Champagne VSOP Gold
Domaines Francis Abecassis Reviseur Cognac Petite Champagne VSOP Gold
Cognac Frapin Cognac Frapin VSOP Gold


XO – Super Premium
Company Product Medal
Fanny Fougerat Iris Poivré Gold
Larsen le Cognac des Vikings Larsen XO Silver


XO – Ultra Premium
Company Product Medal
Martell & Co Martell XO Master & Taste Master
Maison L’Époque L’Époque Baroque XO Master
Rémy Martin Rémy Martin XO Gold
Camus La Grande Marque Cognac Camus XO Gold
Cognac Frapin Trilogie Frapin Gold
Courvoisier Courvoisier XO Royal Gold
Courvoisier Courvoisier XO Gold
Maison Ferrand Pierre Ferrand Sélection des Anges Gold
Kelt Cognac Kelt Cognac XO Gold
Martell & Co Martell Cordon Bleu Silver
Larsen le Cognac des Vikings Renault Carte D’Argent XO Silver


XO Single Cru
Company Product Medal
Martell & Co Single Cru Grande Champagne XO Silver


XO – Single Estate
Company Product Medal
Domaines Francis Abecassis ABK6 Cognac XO Renaissance Gold
Camus La Grande Marque Cognac Camus XO Borderies Single Estate Gold
Cognac Frapin Cognac Frapin – 15 Years Old Gold


No Age Statement – Super Premium
Company Product Medal
Rémy Martin Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Master
Kelt Cognac Kelt Cognac Cask Strength Gold


No Age Statement – Ultra Premium
Company Product Medal
Rémy Martin Rémy Martin Tercet Gold
Rémy Martin Rémy Martin Club Gold


No Age Statement – Single Estate
Company Product Medal
Thobor Martingale Cognac Gold


XXO – Single Cru
Company Product Medal
Imperial Cognac Famille Lanville Master


Single Vintage
Company Product Medal
Imperial Cognac Ange Noir Gold


Vintage – Ultra-Premium
Company Product Medal
Naud Distillery Naud Extra Cognac Gold

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