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17 Best Cognac Brands in the World

Hailing from their namesake region in Southwest France, the best cognacs deliver quality and character in equal measure. For those new to cognac, it might seem like a bit of a mystery. First of all, if you didn’t know it already, cognac isn’t whisky. It has far more in common with wine than it does with your favourite corn-based bourbon. It then goes without saying that each one has craftmanship down to a science, with the awards and reputation to show for it. Behind a number of these premium expressions are the most sought-after cognac houses on earth, most of whom have been around for decades. Pour some of their finest into the nearest sifter you can get your hands on and you’ll be sipping in style, indeed.

How Man of Many Chose This List of Cognac

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.

The Best Cognac Brands at a Glance

How to Choose the Best Cognac

In order to choose the best cognac from our list below, you’ll have to figure a few things out first.

Now you know everything there is to know about Cognac, let’s check out our favourite brands.

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Best cognac brands hennessy

Image: Hennessy

1. Hennessy

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.

Founded: 1765

Founder: Richard Hennessy

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: from $70 AUD

Buy it here (Hennessy) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (Liquor Land)

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Best cognac brands remy martin

Image: Rémy Martin

2. Rémy Martin

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.

This is also the brand behind the exclusive and renowned Louis XIII, which blends 1200 individual Eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne vineyards, representing an age range from 40 to 100 years. Should you ever score a bottle, don’t even think about using it in a cocktail.

Founded: 1724

Founder: E. Rémy Martin

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: $90 AUD

Buy it here (Rémy Martin) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (The Whisky Exchange)

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Best cognac brands pierre ferrand

Image: Pierre Ferrand

3. Pierre Ferrand

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.

A living testament to the art of blending, Pierre Ferrand marries various vintages to harmonious effect. Striving for absolute distinction, the brand doesn’t abide by the traditional classifications of VS, VSOP, and XO. Instead, it employs unique designations and occasionally veers outside of regulatory practices. In turn, some output doesn’t fall under the official “cognac” banner, even if it’s crafted entirely from Grande Champagne grapes. Suffice it to say, every aspect of this operation emanates an artisanal vibe.

Founded: 1702, company founded in 1989

Founder: Alexandre Gabriel

Headquarters: Chateau de Bonbonnet in Ars, a town in the Cognac region of France.

Price: from $70 AUD

Buy it here (Pierre Ferrand) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (Nicks)

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Best cognac brands hine

Image: Hine

4. Hine

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.

One of the best cognacs under $100 is their bottle of Hine Rare VSOP. It’s one of the brand’s most popular expressions and blends 20 different cognacs to create slightly smoky, vanilla, honey, and fruity flavours.

Founded: 1763

Founder: Thomas Hine

Headquarters: Jarnac, France

Price: $100 AUD

Buy it here (Hine) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (Nicks)

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Best cognac brands martell

Image: Martell

5. Martell

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.

Martell has craftsmanship and quality on lock, hence its broad slate of smooth sippers. Odds are you’ve seen Martell VSOP Cognac sitting on the shelf at the nearest upscale lounge, but that’s merely skirting the surface. Take a deeper dive and you’ll discover Cordon Bleu, a premium XO blend that marries 10 to 25-year vintages, using grapes from four different regions.

Founded: 1715

Founder: Jean Martell

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: $80 AUD

Buy it here (Martell) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (Liquor Land)

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Best cognac brands meukow

Image: Meukow

6. Meukow

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.

This iconic distillery underwent renovations at the turn of the 21st century and now ranks among the most technically-advanced cognac houses. Distinguishing each expression is a brilliant sense of balance and complexity, as flavours of fruit, wood, and nuts partake in a delicate dance.

A number of the brand’s releases are quite affordable, making them some of the best cognacs for under $100 and sometimes even $50. That is until you throw all those hefty import fees into the equation.

Founded: 1862

Founder: Auguste-Christophe and Gustav Meukow

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: $50 AUD

Buy it here (Meukow) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (BWS)

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Best cognac brands courvoisier

Image: Courvoisier

7. Courvoisier

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.

This brand was championed by everyone from Napoleon Bonaparte to Busta Rhymes. A little more on the Napoleon connection: after visiting the distillery in 1811, he reportedly began dispensing this particular spirit to his troops during the Napoleonic Wars. Given the emperor’s subsequent defeat in 1815, we’re not so sure that was such a good idea. According to legend, he also requested several casks of Courvoisier as his one luxury item upon being exiled. Multiple benchmarks would follow for this beloved and wildly successful brand.

Founded: 1835

Founder: Felix Courvoisier

Headquarters: Jarnac, Charente

Price: $80 AUD

Buy it here (Courvoisier) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (First Choice)

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Best cognac brands bisquit dubouche

Image: Bisquit & Dubouché

8. Bisquit and Dubouché

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.

Founded: 1819

Founder: Alexandre Bisquit and Adrien Dubouché

Headquarters: Milan, Italy (Campari Group).

Price: from $74 AUD

Buy it here (Bisquit & Dubouché) Buy it here (Vintage Cellars) Buy it here (The Whisky Exchange)

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Best cognac brands kelt

Image: Kelt

9. Kelt

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.

We might’ve come a long way in the time since, but that hasn’t stopped the brand from utilising those former practices. Does it amount to some of the best cognacs you’ll ever try? We highly recommend you pick up a bottle of the Tour Du Monde VSOP or XO to find out.

Founder: Olev Kelt

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Best cognac brands louis xiii

Image: Louis XIII

10. Louis XIII

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.

Founded: 1874

Founder: Paul-Emile Rémy Martin

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: from $4000 AUD

Buy it here (Louis XIII) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (First Choice)

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Best cognac brands camus

Image: Camus

11. Camus

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.

While the brand makes myriad expressions, the best starting point is likely its VSOP. This popular expression is known for its spicy, sweet flavour profile of cracked black pepper, vanilla beans, dried fruits, and tropical fruits.

Meanwhile, Camus continues to shake things up after all these years. On the heels of its acclaimed Elegance Range, the distillery recently debuted new VS, VSOP (mentioned above), and XO statements. Each one brings over 150 years of craftsmanship to fruition and delivers exceptional colour, aroma, and taste as a result.

Founded: 1863

Founder: Jean-Baptiste Camus

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: $100 AUD

Buy it here (Camus) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (Nicks)

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Best cognac brands frapin

Image: Frapin

12. Frapin

Here we have another independent producer of the highest regard, which maintains a single estate in the heart of France’s Grande Champagne region.

While the brand itself is much younger, the Frapin family has been crafting cognac in the town of Segonzac since 1270. Twenty generations later and they’re still gaining global recognition as one of the best Cognac brands. A good starting point to get to know this brand is its Frapin 1270. This single estate cognac was made from grapes grown, distilled, and aged all at the Frapin estate. Aged in Limousin oak barrels, we love it for the floral, fruity, vanilla-centric flavour profile.

Founded: 1270

Founder: Frapin family

Headquarters: Segonzac, France

Price: $120 AUD

Buy it here (Frapin) Buy it here (The Whisky Exchange)

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Best cognac brands grosperrin

Image: Grosperrin

13. Grosperrin

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.

Founded: 1992

Founder: Jean Grosperrin

Headquarters: Saintes, France

Price: from $230 AUD

Buy it here (Grosperrin) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s)

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Best cognac brands dusse

Image: D’Usse

14. D’Usse

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.

Founded: 2012

Founder: Shawn ‘JAY-Z’ Carter

Headquarters: Château du Cognac and a subsidiary of Bacardi.

Price: from $100 AUD

Buy it here (D’Usse) Buy it here (Nicks)

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Best cognac brands jean luc pasquet

Image: Jean-Luc Pasquet

15. Jean-Luc Pasquet

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.

Founded: 1977

Founder: Jean Luc Pasquet

Headquarters: Cognac, France

Price: from $150 AUD

Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s) Buy it here (Nicks)

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Best cognac brands guillon painturaud

Image: Guillon-Painturaud

16. Guillon-Painturaud

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.

Founded: 1610

Founder: Guillon Painturaud Family

Headquarters: Segonzac, France

Price: from $40 USD

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Best cognac brands grand marnier

Image: Grand Marnier

17. Grand Marnier

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.

Founded: 1827

Founder: Jean-Baptiste Lapostolle

Headquarters: Cognac, France.

Price: from $60 AUD

Buy it here (Grand Marnier) Buy it here (Dan Murphy’s)

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Cognac monnet

Image: Cognac Monnet

What is Cognac?

In the simplest terms, Cognac is a type of brandy that comes from a specific area of France.

Cognac, specifically, is a spirit made from distilled wine (usually white wine). Rules require it to be distilled twice in copper pot stills before being aged in French oak barrels for at least two years prior to bottling. The aging process is similar to whiskey and most cognacs are aged much longer than the required two years and gain flavour profiles similar to bourbon or single malt Scotch whisky. It’s only produced in a five-month period between October and March because distillers have to wait for the grape harvest to begin distillation.

See, doesn’t that make it all a little less mysterious and confusing? Oh, you probably want to know a little more about brandy now. Brandy seems like something that’s only sipped by your elderly uncle and is simply a distilled spirit made from grapes. See, that’s why wine is its closest relative.

How is Cognac Made?

Not only is it a specific type of Brandy, but it’s made in accordance with strict regulations.

  • In order to make the cut, it must be produced using white grapes – mostly Ugni Blanc grapes.
  • These grapes must come from one of six different terroirs in the Cognac region of Southwest France.
  • The resulting juice is then double-distilled in a copper pot still, which creates a young spirit known as eau de vie (translation: “water of life”).

As per the regulatory standards, the eau de vie is then aged for a minimum of two years, during a highly unique maturation process that involves redistribution from one French oak barrel to another. Next, a master blender typically “marries” (i.e. blends) assorted vintages and then puts the blend back in the barrel for additional aging.

What are the Different Types of Cognacs?

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:

  • VS (Very Special) – The most common form of cognac, which has been aged for the mandatory minimum of two years.
  • VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) – The youngest vintage in the blend has been aged for at least four years.
  • XO (Extra Old) – The youngest vintage in the blend has spent a minimum of six years inside the barrel.

While some spirits rely on specific terms (like bottled in bond) or age statements, cognac comes in VS (aged for at least two years), VSOP (aged for at least four years), XO (aged at least ten years), XXO (aged at least 14 years), and beyond. On top of these terms, there are also other offshoots like Hors d’âge which is used to describe a cognac that has matured past the official age range. There are also other phrases like Napoleon, Reserve, Extra Cognac, and Cuvee Cognac that you might find on longer-aged expressions.

How Should You Drink Cognac?

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.

What’s the Difference Between French Cognac and Brandy?

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.

Frequently Asked Cognac Questions

What is difference between Cognac and Brandy?

In the same sense that Scotch is a type of whisky, cognac is a specific type of brandy that’s made in accordance with strict regulations.

What is cognac made of?

In order to qualify as cognac, the brandy must be produced using white grapes from one of six different terroirs in the Cognac region of Southwest France. The juice must be double-distilled in a copper pot still and aged in French oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

Is cognac a whiskey?

Cognac is a type of brandy and it’s made from grapes, not grains. It is not a type of whiskey.

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