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15 Best Cognac Brands for Beginners Ranked (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on January 21, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Crafted from distilled wine, cognac is aged in Frech oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

But for beginners, where should you start? Which bottle can give you an extraordinary sensory experience? What are the most affordable quality options? 

Let’s look at the best cognacs for beginners. Read on.   

Top 15 Cognac Bottles For Beginners

15. Deau URB’N De Luxe

Deau URB'N De Luxe and a cocktail glass

Average Price: roughly $40/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: As an innovative blend of VS Cognac, Deau URB’N De Luxe has a vibrant and refreshing flavor.

The nose boasts white pepper, then filled with fresh mint, yellow fruits, and floral hints. This is a great pick if you want to enhance your cocktail experience, though it’s best served neat.

14. Jean Fillioux Réserve Familiale

_Jean Fillioux Réserve Familiale Bottle and a Box

Average Price: roughly $250/740ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: As a 100% XO Grande Champagne cognac, Jean Fillioux Réserve Familiale is full-bodied with the notes of jasmine, orange peel, and orange blossom.

Although it’s old-aged, the flavors aren’t overwhelming, with an interesting finish lingering over the hints of spices and honey.  

13. Martell VSOP

Cognac Martell VSOP and a Box

Average Price: roughly $48/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Martell VSOP Cognac has a delicate and harmonious balance between its fruity and woody flavors. You can enjoy it chilled, neat, or in cocktails or mixed drinks.

Similar to Martell Blue Swift, this VSOP’s subtle aromas and smoothness make it an easy and versatile drink– one of the highly recommended cognacs for beginners.

This is a typical example of the Martell style, characterized by its fruit-forward and linear structure. 

12. Remy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish

Bottle of Remy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish on Table

Average Price: roughly $45/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV

Why We Like It: The attractive gold-colored hue of this cognac comes with superior notes of fresh candied pear, dried apricot, and vanilla– enough to win the Silver (Outstanding) IWSC. 

We’re impressed with the versatility of Remy VSOP Mature Cask as you can enjoy it chilled, over ice, neat, or on cocktails.  

If you’re looking for the best cognacs for beginners with a little more body, balance, and smooth finish, this Remy Martin VSOP is your best bet.   

11. Bache Gabrielsen American Oak

Opening Bottle of Bache Gabrielsen American Oak

Average Price: roughly $39.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: One of the best cognacs for beginners is Bache Gabrielsen American Oak– an Eaux de vie blend [1] matured in limousin oak casks. 

It’s a delightful VSOP cognac with a distinct flavor profile as it’s finished using Tennessee oak barrels, imparting the earthy flavor and bourbon-like tastes with tropical aromas.

As one of the best cognacs, this spirit from the Fins Bois cru has won awards, such as:

  • Best Cognac – 2017 Spirits Innovation Awards and Cocktails Spirits France
  • Silver Medal – 2017 San Francisco Worlds Spirits Competition (USA)
  • Gold Medal – 2017 New York International Spirits Competition (USA)
  • 87 Points (Very Good, Strong Recommendation) – Ultimate Spirits Challenge (USA)

10. Frapin 1270

Three Bottles of  Frapin 1270 on Top of Table

Average Price: roughly $45/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: As an extraordinary precedent from Grande Champagne, its unique supple and scent, lovely vibrant, and superior quality make it one of the best cognacs for beginners.

Crafted from the finest grapes in the region, expect a rich and versatile cognac.

Over ice, neat, in a cocktail, or with sparkling water, anyone can surely enjoy Frapin 1270.  

9. Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne

Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne Bottle with Box and a Glass

Average Price: roughly $64/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: One very fine example of VSOP cognacs aged generously, creating a blended quality, is Maxime Trijol (Very Superior Old Pale) VSOP Grande Champagne. 

It can rival the higher-end quality of some of the favorite XOs. Expect a flavorful and floral creation that you can easily drink, perfect for any special occasion.

The impressive character of this fine cognac [2] is worthy of the awards, such as:

  • Gold Medal – San Francisco World Spirits Competition 
  • Gold Medal – International Spirits Competition
  • Gold Medal – International Spirits Challenge

8. Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise Crystal Decanter

Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise Crystal Decanter and a glass on wooden table

Average Price: roughly $2,186/1L Decanter (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 43% ABV 

Why We Like It: At first sip, we get why this is called a hidden gem in the cognac world. 

This is truly an expert’s find as it’s aged for over 60 years, giving the taste and richness of coffee, hazelnut, truffle, and dried fig. 

“Likely to be one of the finest cognacs you have tasted.”

— Victoria Moore, Author/Journalist 

This expensive Grande Champagne cognac lets you experience a delicate texture with long-lasting layers of flavors, and extremely rich rancio only found on rare cognacs. 

7. ABK6 XO Family Reserve Aged 10 Years

Two Bottles of  ABK6 XO Family Reserve Aged 10 Years and a Decanter

Average Price: roughly $103.49/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: What’s interesting about this 10-year-old cognac is its good balance of sweet and savory flavors with hints of oak and licorice on the nose.

This is a great example of an exceptional cognac from a single estate crafted from the Fins Bois terroir. It won Gold (Outstanding) at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. 

If you want something hot, ABK6 XO Family Reserve delivers a warm finish with cinnamon, walnut, and clove. 

6. Guillon-Painturaud Réserve Single Estate

Average Price: roughly $48/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Another exceptional cognac from the Grande Champagne, Guillon-Painturaud delivers a complex flavor profile due to its 10-year aging process. 

The complexity features a good balance of light vanilla, flowery notes, subtle ginger, and a citrusy hint. 

If you want to delve deep to fully admire Cognac’s versatility, Guillon-Painturaud Réserve Single Estate is a good way to start.  

5. Park Napoleon Borderies Cognac

Park Napoleon Borderies Cognac with Glass and a Cigar

Average Price: roughly $74.99/750ml (Drizly)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Park Napoleon Borderies is crafted using the most expensive and rarest type of grape– Petite Champagne (from the Cognac region.)

Aged for three years at minimum in oak barrels, expect delightfully different nuances, perfect for your favorite cocktail or for drinking neat. 

It’s high-quality with a smooth taste–a truly elegant cognac worthy of the following awards: 

  • Double Gold Medal – 2014 WSWA Tasting Competition
  • Silver Medal – 2015 Best French Spirits for Asia (5th Challenge)
  • Silver Medal – 2015 International Wine & Spirit Competition
  • Double Gold Medal – 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition  

4. Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2008

Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2008 Bottle with Box and Glass

Average Price: roughly $139.99/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 42.7% ABV 

Why We Like It: Domaines Hine Bonneuil is just a great example sourced from their brand’s own Grande Champagne terroir. 

Domaines Hine is one of the vintages with a robust character, focus, elegance, and vibrant cranberry aromas.    

But even if you’re not a cognac expert, just a sip of Domaines Hine Bonneuil 2008 will let you understand why it’s one of the best cognacs out there. So try it yourself. 

3. Augier L’Océanique

Augier L'Océanique Bottle and a Cocktail Drink

Average Price: roughly $49/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40.1% ABV 

Why We Like It: We like this blend from the Atlantic Ile D’Oléron due to its relatively youthful and floral character with hints of orange and grapefruit. 

Its maritime edge makes this an appealing blend for beginners wanting to try cognac.

Made from 100% Ugni Blanc [3] grapes from the Cognac region Bois Ordinaires, it’s aged in French oak barrels.  

This unique cognac tastes like salted caramel with hints of milk chocolate, dark raisins, and tobacco smoke.

2. Hennessy VS

Close Up Bottle of Hennessy Very Special Cognac

Average Price: roughly $40/750ml (MSRP)

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: If you’re in the cognac market looking for budget-friendly yet quality spirits, we highly recommend Hennessy VS. 

At first sip, you’ll get fragrant and bold notes due to maturation using new oak barrels.

Expect the aromas of fresh fruits, toasted notes, and a rich palate of spice and honey. 

The finish is smooth and long– letting you experience a fruit of consistency and expertise.

1. Marancheville XO Grande Champagne

Marancheville XO Grande Champagne on table

Average Price: roughly $102/750ml (MSRP) 

Alcohol Content: 40% ABV 

Why We Like It: Best served in a tulip glass, Marancheville is one of that well-aged blend, XO cognacs. Its deep notes and complex flavor profile are easily noticeable. 

Expect slightly sweet notes and smoothness with hints of oak, vanilla, and dried fruit. Besides, it has deep notes of spiciness, perfect as a winter drink and digestif.

Overall, it one of the best cognacs for beginners– rich, balanced, delicious, and is reasonably priced. 

FAQs 

Is cognac beginner friendly?

Cognac is beginner-friendly, but you have to look closely at the age statement. The longer it’s aged, the more complex a cognac will be. 

How do you drink cognac for beginners?

Beginners can drink cognacs by smelling them first before sipping them neatly. Also, you can add a splash of water to reveal all the flavors [4]. 

In A Nutshell 

When choosing the best cognacs for beginners, you have many good options. 

From the Deau URB’N De Luxe to Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise Crystal Decanter to Hennessy VS, all are great introductions to the world of cognac. 

But for your cognac enlightenment, we highly recommend the Marancheville XO Grande Champagne if you really want the best cognac brandy with all the superior qualities– at a reasonable price. 

References:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/01/dining/eau-de-vie-fruit-s-essence-captured-in-a-bottle.html 
  2. https://www.britannica.com/topic/cognac 
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/ugni 
  4. https://www.gq.com/story/beginners-guide-to-cognac 

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