Decoding Cognac Labels for National Cognac Day

Decoding Cognac Labels for National Cognac Day

Cognac lives somewhere between Wine and Spirit. The core component is called eau-de-vie and is made from double-distilled wine that hails from southwestern France (near the village of Cognac). That is then aged in oak barrels to get to the drink we call Cognac. The amount of aging time is directly related to the quality of the drink.

But... How do you enjoy Cognac right? Annnd... What the heck do all of those fancy labels mean? Swizl is happy to help you decode them and enjoy each grade of this French beauty correctly. 

VS = VERY SPECIAL

This is the least mature Cognac classification. It's aged at least 2 years. This is perfect for use in your fave simple Cognac cocktails like The Sidecar or Roosevelt Punch. Sure it's tasty, but not one you're typically going to enjoy on its own.

VSOP = VERY SUPERIOR OLD PALE

We've moved up to a minimum aging of 4 years at this level. Again, it's good in cocktails like The French 75 or The Sazerac that call for a slightly higher quality Cognac, but this one can be enjoyed alone as well.

XO = EXTRA OLD

XO is very nice Cognac, resting for at least 10 years. These are usually enjoyed neat or over ice. You're looking at between $150 and $200 a bottle for some of the finer examples at this level. 

BEYOND 10 YEARS... MY PRECIOUSSSS

After XO, you're in the big time. These are precious Cognacs and can be very, very valuable, ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars per bottle. Aging for the more expensive versions can range between 40 and 140 years. Many feature specialty bottles with some rare examples even clad in 24 karat gold and diamond chips. Now, that's swag!