What Does Cognac Taste Like? (2023 Updated)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Cognacs generally feature various flavors. For younger cognacs, you can commonly get fresh fruit and a spicy primary taste. More decadent spices are dominant for older cognacs. But really, what does cognac taste like?

If you like to get the most out of your tasting experience, let’s get to know more about the taste of cognac and how some factors affect its flavor. 

What Does Cognac Really Taste Like? 

Martell Cordon Bleu Cognac

Each type of cognac has unique characteristics, and within a blend, they can create a variety of complex flavors that are ideal for every occasion. 

The featured flavors include candied fruits, cinnamon, ginger ale, vanilla, dried apricots, nutty notes, candied bread, and vine flowers. Other less common ones include chocolate, spices, leather, toffee, and port. 

The more a high-quality cognac has aged, the more it will provide a smooth mouthfeel with unique flavors and aromatics.

5 Basic Cognac Flavor Profiles 

5 Basic Cognac Flavor Profile 

1. Sweet

Cognacs with sweet flavor profiles usually taste like peaches, berries, vanilla, caramel, honey, sweet spice, etc.  

2. Sour

A glass of cognac

The sourness of cognacs usually tastes like lemon flavorings, orange zest, banana flambe, and sour flavorings. 

3. Salt

You can get cognacs with a little bit of salty flavor profile. It usually tastes like salt and pepper and salty licorice. 

4. Bitter

cognac on the rocks

Cognac also features bitter flavors giving some bitter essences like distilled bitter orange and bitter-almond flavor. 

5. Umami

Of course, there are umami cognacs (or intensely savory). Some cognac brands feature combined spices with sweet, sour, and salty notes. Also, you can get fruity notes with hints of oakiness. 

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4 Factors That Affect Its Flavor

4 Factors That Affect Its Flavor

1. Color

The color of cognac also hints something about its taste. A red color indicates the use of caramel, which is often used to add color to young cognacs to provide the illusion of age.

The very light-colored cognacs are typically produced from the Grande Champagne cognac region, where the aging process takes longer. Dark-colored varieties are usually produced from the new oak, which often provides a burned wine flavor.

2. Aroma

cognac cocktail

Aroma depends on how long the cognac is aged. The older the cognac is, the better its aroma. A well-aged cognac features a more concentrated fragrance. Also, aromas are influenced by the season when the cognac is made.

For example, summer aromas bring out mellower tones, while spring aromas result in flowery and subtle spices. 

3. Age

The age of a bottle of cognac is also a factor that influences its taste and aroma. Once it’s well-aged, the flavors start to develop a more refined character.

Some of the keynotes that come from this type of brandy include candied fruit, dried apricots, plum, and peach. 

4. Temperature

cognac citrus splash

The temperature during the production process and how you store cognac bottles say a lot about its flavor.

When exposed to heat or cold, it can alter the taste or flavor of the cognac. That’s why cognac or any other liquors are only stored at room temperature to retain their flavor. 

How To Actually “Taste” Cognac? 

Martell cognac in the glass

To actually taste and enjoy cognac, you need first to select your glass (either Tulip or Balloon glass) and then pour the cognac into it. Then, wait a little bit to warm the bottle in your hand (around 10 minutes).

After that, swirl your glass and glance at the cognac beads. Smell the cognac, savor its aroma, drink cognac (traditionally drunk neat), and enjoy its finish. 

But, remember, there’s no right on wrong when drinking cognac or how you enjoy cognac– it’s just a matter of personal perception. 

What’s Rancio?

Cognac Bottles

Rancio, in Portugal, means Port wine [1]. This word describes the characteristics of the distilling wine during its maturation process.

The Rancio Charantais is a type of cognac that’s aged in oak barrels for around 10 years, producing the extreme intensity of its unique flavor over time.


Does cognac taste like whiskey?

No. Cognac does not taste like whiskey. Although this lean spirit is usually stored in oak barrels, it has a distinctive taste compared to whiskey.

For instance, while wine or cognac is made from grapes, whiskey is made from various grains such as corn, barley, and rye. More on cognac vs whiskey here

Is cognac sweeter than brandy?

It depends. Cognacs feature different flavors, depending on the brand. There are some cognacs sweeter than brandy, while some are not.

But, commonly, cognacs produce sweet-tasting spirits with a velvety texture using grapes from the French region. More on cognac vs brandy here

Final Thoughts

Cognac taste like a variety of flavors combined– from sweet, sour, salty, bitter, to umami. This double-distilled eau-de-vie–made spirit from the cognac region in French appellations boasts robust character with distinct flavors.  

With cognac’s amazing taste and spicy aromas, we can’t deny that many people love it among other distilled spirits. 



Lisa Dimarco

Lisa is a freelance lifestyle writer specializing in nightlife, leisure, and celebration. She has been in the field for eight years and has written articles featured in various local blogs and lifestyle magazines. For Lisa, there’s nothing better than an ice-cold drink after a rough day (she’s not fussy). But she also likes to get a bit fancy every now and then. She believes you can never go wrong with a Moscow Mule or a classic Daiquiri anywhere you go. Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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