What is VS Cognac?

VS Cognac stands for ‘Very Special’ and is the youngest age designation found on bottles of Cognac. Any bottle of Cognac with VS on the label will have been aged for a minimum of two years in oak barrels. VS Cognacs are generally best either mixed and served long or made into a cocktail.

What is VSOP Cognac?

VSOP Cognac stands for ‘Very Superior Old Pale’ and means that the youngest brandy in the blend must have been aged in barrel for at least four years. The term ‘Reserve’ on a bottle of Cognac is equivalent to VSOP, too. VSOPs can be drunk on their own, but they also work wonderfully well in cocktails, given their extra depth of flavour compared to VS Cognacs.

What is XO Cognac?

The oldest and most prestigious category, XO (‘eXtra Old’) Cognacs must be aged for a minimum of six years (this will increase to 10 years from 2016), but in practice are always aged for much, much longer, usually for two decades or more. XO Cognacs are characteristically rich, complex and elegant, with a wide range of nuances and flavours. They should be sipped slowly to allow the full range of flavours to come through on the palate. There are other terms used in Cognac, such as ‘Extra’, ‘Vielle Réserve’ and ‘Hors d’âge (‘beyond age’). These three are certainly on a par with XO Cognacs in terms of quality, and in some cases can surpass them.

What is Napoléon Cognac?

Bottles of Cognac with ‘Napoléon’ on their label will be similar to XO Cognacs in terms of age, although XOs are regarded as superior. Napoléon references Napoléon Bonaparte, the French military leader who had barrels of Cognac – his favourite drink – delivered to him on the battlefield.

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