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Understanding Cognac: VS, VSOP, and XO Explained

Understanding Cognac: VS, VSOP, and XO Explained

Cognac, a jewel in the crown of French spirits, has fascinated taste buds for centuries. Hennessy, founded in 1765, Remy Martin in 1724, Martell in 1715, and Courvoisier in 1828, stand as historic pillars in the world of Cognac.

If you've ever wondered about the differences between VS, V.S.O.P, and XO Cognac, you're in the right place. As The Liquor Club's friendly guide, we're diving into the essence of these iconic Cognac expressions. Join us on a journey through the artistry behind brands like Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin, Courvoisier, and the opulent Louis XIII, and discover which bottle deserves a spot in your collection.

What is Cognac?

Cognac, a distinguished type of brandy from France, begins its journey as distilled white wine. This spirit goes through a double distillation process in copper pot stills before aging in French oak barrels, gaining its distinctive flavours and aromas. For a spirit to be labelled as Cognac, it must adhere to strict production criteria and originate from the Cognac region in France.

How Is Cognac Made?

HENNESSY V.S.O.P Cognac Barrell aging

The creation of Cognac is a meticulous process that begins with the careful selection of white wine, primarily made from Ugni Blanc grapes. This wine is then distilled twice in copper pot stills, a method that enhances its fruity characteristics and purity. The heart of this distillate, known as "eau-de-vie," is then aged in French oak barrels, where it undergoes a transformation, mellowing and acquiring flavours from the wood. This aging process is closely monitored by the cellar master, who blends different ages and crus (vineyard sites) to achieve the desired profile for each grade of Cognac.

What does VS, V.S.O.P, and XO Cognac Mean?

VS (Very Special)

Hennessy VS Cognac Premium VS Cognac from a legendary french brand - The Liquor Club

Aged for a minimum of two years, VS Cognac is vibrant and bold, ideal for cocktails. Hennessy and Courvoisier are among the brands that excel in this category, offering a perfect introduction to the world of Cognac.

V.S.O.P (Very Superior Old Pale)

HENNESSY V.S.O.P Cognac Old Fashion Cocktail The Liquor Club

With at least four years of aging, V.S.O.P Cognac presents a smoother, more mellow profile. It's a blend that often includes older eaux-de-vie, making it suitable for sipping neat or on the rocks. Remy Martin and Courvosier are celebrated for their V.S.O.Ps.

X.O (Extra Old)

Luxury Hennessy XO Cognac - The Liquor Club

XO stands at the pinnacle, requiring at least six years of aging but often much more. It's known for its rich, full-bodied taste and complexity, making it a luxurious choice for special moments. Remy Martin, Martell, and Hennessy offer exquisite XOs.

How to Enjoy Cognac

  • VS Cognac: The Mixer's Dream, perfect for cocktails like the Cognac Sidecar Cocktail or even with simple mixes such as apple juice.
  • V.S.O.P Cognac: Smooth Sophisticate, great for sipping neat or in refined cocktails such as a Cognac Old Fashioned.
  • XO Cognac: The Luxurious Sip, best enjoyed neat to appreciate its depth and richness. Ideally served at room temperature.

Our Favourite Cognacs The Liquor Club

Discovering Your Cognac Preference

As you venture into the world of Cognac, consider starting with a VS to appreciate the spirit's vibrant essence. Gradually explore V.S.O.Ps, enjoying the added smoothness and depth. When you're ready to indulge, an XO will offer an unparalleled sipping experience, showcasing the pinnacle of aging excellence. Check out the range of cognacs at The Liquor Club by clicking here

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