The 8 Best Cognac Brands In 2024
— Updated on 21 February 2024

The 8 Best Cognac Brands In 2024

— Updated on 21 February 2024
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

A delicious, culturally important sub-category of dark spirits — that remains hugely underrated in Australia — Cognac is a drop that’s worth exploring more.

The grape-based distillate has gotten major traction over the past half-decade, thanks to its growing visibility in pop culture and continuing importance to many of the world’s most influential classic cocktails.

In simplest terms, a geographically designated style of brandy made in the French region of Cognac (à la Scotch or Champagne) we’ve assembled a tidy list of the best Cognac brands currently in-market. With this at your disposal, it’ll be no time before you know your VSOPs from your XOs. Santé!

RELATED: The 13 Best Champagnes To Buy In Australia In 2024


The Most Covetable Cognac Brands In 2024

Louis XIII (Best Overall)

best Cognac brands
  • Parent Company: Rémy Cointreau
  • Signature Bottles: The Classic Decanter, Rare Cask 42.1, THE DROP
  • Distillery Location: Juillac-le-Coq, Charente
  • Price Point: Starting at $5,000

A vitally important brand of Cognac within the wider Rémy Cointreau portfolio, ‘Louis XIII’ takes its name from the eponymous ruler of 17th century France — the nation’s first monarch “to recognise Cognac as a category of brandy in its own right”.

Originally the vision of Rémy Martin’s great-grandson, Paul Emile; Louis XIII is — to put things simply — a Cognac made exclusively from the oldest eaux de vie (clear grape distillates) the House of Rémy Martin has at its disposal.

The brand’s cellar masters routinely craft their “final blend” (ergo, what the customer will taste) from 1,200 individual eaux de vie: resulting in a house style notable for its mingled aromas of honey, myrrh, fig, and dried florals. The Louis XIII decanter, hand-engraved with fleurs-de-lys, is equally recognisable.

RELATED: Tasting The $50,000 ‘Final Boss’ Of Louis XIII Cognac

Whereas a typical “extra old” (XO) Cognac usually lingers on the palate for a few minutes, spirits enthusiasts routinely report that the finish of Louis XIII can take over an hour to dissipate.

Of course, access to such craftsmanship and ancient raw spirit comes at a cost; with standard 700ml Louis XIII decanters starting at around $5,000. This is to say nothing of the brand’s even more formidable ‘Rare Cask’ releases — roughly analogous to whisky drawn from a single barrel.

Traditionally, the brand has been the sole province of ultra-high-net-worth drinkers (“shrouded”, as one private client director says, “in a veil of secrecy”). However, this black box approach appears to be changing in recent years, as Louis XIII does more to engage the wider public: as seen in its 100 Years team-up with Pharrell, and recent customer-focused initiatives such as ‘The Drop’.


Martell

  • Parent Company: Pernod Ricard
  • Signature Bottles: Cordon Bleu, Martell XXO, L’Or de Jean Martell, Noblige
  • Distillery Location: Gâtebourse, Charante
  • Price Point: Starting at $90

Established in 1715 — thus making it the oldest of the ‘Big Four’ Cognac houses — Martell produces over 15 million bottles of the spirited stuff every year: celebrated far and wide for its iconic XO and ‘Cordon Bleu’ bottlings.

The House also bears a unique connection to the United Kingdom, where its ancestral founder Jean Martell was born. In 1750, at the height of the Napoleonic Wars, Martell was granted an “exceptional import licence”: enabling bottles of the brand’s Cognac to be shipped to England unscathed, despite the ongoing Anglo-French conflict.

While longtime rival Hennessy was the earliest to utilise the “very superior old pale” (VSOP) grade, Martell was the first Cognac brand, in 1912, to market its XO with an original name — Cordon Bleu.

Very much still a global bestseller (particularly in East Asia) this distinctive bottling is a testament to Martell’s obsession with terroir: made for a more complex, layered drinking experience through the use of grapes from Borderies (Cognac’s ‘third Cru’, after Grande and Petite Champagne).

Today, the House has a reputation for innovation: as demonstrated in its experimentation with double-cask finishing in the ‘Blue Swift’ line, and excellent online cocktail-making resources.


Bisquit & Dubouche

  • Parent Company: Campari Group
  • Signature Bottles: V.S., V.S.O.P
  • Distillery Location: Jarnac, Charante
  • Price Point: Starting at $110

The first ‘niche’ addition to our shortlist of the best Cognac brands, Bisquit & Dubouche was — until recently — not a purveyor of mature-aged French brandy with much in the way of Aussie distribution.

The House, based out of the southwesterly commune of Jarnac, currently offers two releases down under: a VSOP (aged for a minimum of 4 years); and an XO (aged for a minimum of 10 years).

The former managed to net ‘Double Gold’ accolades at the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition— the Oscars of the beverage industry — and is noted for the high percentage of spirit it uses that comes from the Bon Bois region. In the glass, this makes for a mellow Cognac, full of juicy fruit flavours and a warming, spicy finish.


Camus

best Cognac brands
  • Parent Company: Privately owned
  • Signature Bottles: ‘Dark & Stormy’, Special Dry Borderies, V.S.O.P.
  • Distillery Location: La Gîte, Borderies
  • Price Point: Starting at $119

Camus is among a small handful of Cognac distillers (ditto those with a globetrotting clientele) who remain private and family-owned. It has operated out of Borderies — the smallest of Cognac’s six legally designated production areas — since 1863.

Camus is well-known for its focus on “intensely aromatic” brandies: something that is reflected in the brand’s special releases and patented ‘instensity’ distillation method.

Many of its bottlings only utilise the first 20 litres of the second distillation: ensuring that the intensely vivid flavour compounds known as esters are present in unprecedented amounts, prior to ageing.

Among Cognac lovers, the brand is popular for its ‘XO Borderies’: a single-estate expression that utilises wines from the Camus family’s personal vineyards. Rich in relatively unusual notes of cinnamon and pastry cream, it is a great introduction to the high degree of sensorial specificity you’ll find in many a Camus bottle (e.g. the ‘Dark & Stormy’ series, first released in 2010).


Hennessy

best Cognac brands
  • Parent Company: LVMH
  • Signature Bottles: V.S, X.O., Paradis,
  • Distillery Location: Maison Hennessy, Charente
  • Price Point: Starting at $68

The company that puts the “H” in “Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy“, it’s unsurprising that ‘Henny’ (as it’s widely known in our popular vernacular) is the most profitable and hyper-visible Cognac producer in the world.

With production volumes in excess of 102 million bottles per year, the House is also the largest single maker of Cognac globally — accounting for 60% of sales in the USA alone.

Since its establishment, by Irish military officer Richard Hennessy, the brand has popularised a number of innovations which have now become standard practice in the Cognac industry. It was the first of the major houses to introduce the VSOP designation; and in 1870, Maurice Hennessy iterated further on that grading system by introducing the world’s first XO (“extra-old”).

Through sibling company Moët & Chandon’s merger in 1988 with Louis Vuitton, the company became part of LVMH — now the world’s largest luxury goods conglomerate.

Aside from its famed VSOP and VS bottlings (the latter being the official spirit of the NBA), Hennessy offers a number of collectable rare editions: these range from a 3D-printed bottle of XO designed in concert with Fendi’s Kim Jones, to the $10,000+ ‘Richard Hennessy’ collection — noted for its use of eaux de vie that are two centuries old.


Courvoisier

  • Parent Company: Campari Group
  • Signature Bottles: XO Royal, Mizunara Blend
  • Distillery Location: Jarnac, Charente
  • Price Point: Starting at $114

Established in 1835, Courvoisier is best known (to oenophiles and history buffs alike) as the preferred Cognac producer of one Napoleon Bonaparte.

Since the 19th century, the brand has been headquartered at the eponymous Maison Courvoisier and, as of 2024, is the preeminent spirits brand in the Campari Group portfolio.

Among the four major Cognac brands, Courvoisier is the only one to have won the Prestige de la France, the country’s highest accolade for quality, on two separate occasions.

The company introduced its own blend of XO in 1984 (relatively late by industry standards) but since then has spent considerable resources diversifying its offering. This includes its extra-old ‘Royal’ diffusion line and, more intriguingly, the Mizunara wood-age series: incepted when the House was owned by Beam Suntory.


Cognac Frapin (Best Value)

best Cognac brands
  • Parent Company: Privately owned
  • Signature Bottles: Fontpinot XO, Frapin 1270, Millésime series
  • Distillery Location: Fontpinot, Segonzac
  • Price Point: Starting at $95

Covering 240 hectares across the pristine Grande Champagne Cru, Frapin is another of our favourite independent cognac brands that you’ll find at high-quality liquor specialists.

A fixture of international spirits competitions, the House has been family-owned and operated for 21 generations. At the centre of the company’s estates is the Château Fontpinot: a 19th-century fortification conferring legal status on Frapin as the only Cognac-producing “Château” in Grande Champagne.

Aside from the usual array of VSOP and XO bottlings (all made, incidentally, from estate-grown grapes), Frapin possesses a complementary speciality in single vintage Cognac. This, in large part, is due to the excellent terroir on which Frapin is situated: where the iconic Ugni Blanc grape variety thrives, on friable limestone soil that is resistant to extremes of temperature and humidity, all while offering excellent drainage.

Fun fact: Frapin XO VIP was the only Cognac served aboard Concorde flights until the supersonic airliner’s eventual retirement in 2003.


Rémy Martin

  • Parent Company: Rémy Cointreau
  • Signature Bottles: Rémy Martin Club, Tercet, 1738 Accord Royal
  • Distillery Location: Juillac-le-Coq, Charente
  • Price Point: Starting at $113

Only very slightly younger than Martell, Rémy Martin is the prestige Cognac house of the eponymous Rémy Cointreau: the same French luxury spirits conglomerate behind Bruichladdich, Telmont, and Cointreau triple sec liqueur. The House celebrates its 300th anniversary this year.

Of the four major Cognac brands, Rémy Martin is renowned for specialising in Cognac “Fine Champagne”: ergo, bottlings produced using eaux de vie sourced exclusively from Grande and Petite Champagne (widely considered the two best Crus in the Cognac region).

Notwithstanding its ultra-premium Louis XIII collection — in many respects, treated as a separate brand — Rémy Martin offers the expected range of age-classified bottlings you’d expect from a grand old Maison.

The XO and Club ranges are reliable bestsellers (the latter being developed initially for the Chinese market in 1986); though the brand’s Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau is also in the habit of creating one-off releases — such as the single-barrel ‘Carte Blanche’.

Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].

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