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Types of cognacs – official and unofficial classification

koniak chateau de montifaud VS, rodzaje koniaków

Cognac, recognized around the world as a synonym for luxury, is not only a premium alcohol, but also a cultural heritage of France. To understand its uniqueness, it is worth delving into the classifications of cognac, which define its character and quality. The types of cognacs are not accidental – they reflect, among other things, the age of the cognac, and its quality. Thanks to this article, you will discover the secrets of cognac classification, which will help you better appreciate every drop of this noble drink.

VS – basic type of cognac

VS (Very Special) is the first step in the cognac hierarchy, meaning that the youngest distillates in the blend have been aged at least two years in oak barrels. However, don’t be fooled by these seemingly modest requirements. VS Cognac demonstrates the skill of a master brewer who can extract a rich bouquet of flavor even from younger distillates. An example of such a cognac is Château de Montifaud VS, among others, which stands out from the rest with its longer aging time of 4 to 5 years.

Despite its wide availability, VS Cognac is not without depth and complexity, which are appreciated by gourmets around the world. It features fresh and lively fruity notes, with a touch of delicate floral and wood accents, providing an excellent introduction to the more advanced cognac categories. This category is not only an excellent choice for those starting out in cognac, but also for those looking for a quality spirit for everyday enjoyment.

VSOP – move to the shelf above

VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) is the second tier in the official cognac classification, where the youngest component of the distillate must be aged for at least four years. But what makes VSOP special is not just the minimum aging time, but the way those years translate into depth and richness of flavor. In this category of premium cognac, you will experience a harmonious combination of fruity, spicy and vanilla notes that intertwine to create an unforgettable tasting experience.

A VSOP cognac like Château de Montifaud VSOP is the perfect choice for you if you value a balance between intensity and a subtle elegant finish. It offers a complexity that will satisfy even the most demanding Cognac lovers, while maintaining excellent accessibility and versatility. This category is a popular choice both for special occasions and as a key ingredient in sophisticated cocktails, highlighting versatility and prestige in the world of premium cognacs. As with the VS category, in this case Château de Montifaud VSOP is also aged much longer than required. The average age of a cognac from this category brand is 8-10 years.

XO and XXO – the definition of luxury in the world of premium spirits

XO (Extra Old) stands for cognac, in which the youngest eau-de-vie must be aged for at least 10 years, although some brands, such as Pierre Vallet, use much older distillates, going back as far as 20 years. XO cognac embodies complexity, richness and elegance, offering the taster a multi-dimensional sensory journey. Full of complex aromas such as dried fruits, nuts, caramel and even tobacco and leather, it is a true masterpiece of the art of distillation and aging.

Cognac XO vs. XXO differs primarily by a 4-year difference in aging length. XXO (Extra Extra Old), introduced as an official category in 2018, requires that the youngest distillates in the blend be aged at least 14 years. This category represents the apogee of cognac craftsmanship, offering incomparable depth and intensity of flavor that can satisfy even the most refined palates. XXO cognacs, such as Pierre Vallet XXO, are seen as jewels in the bar of any connoisseur. For you, exploring these exclusive categories is not just about tasting alcohol, it’s about experiencing the history, traditions and passions that shape the world of premium spirits.

Napoleon and Hors d’Age: unofficial types of cognacs

There are also types of cognacs that are not official designations in the classification system. One such cognac is “Napoleon.” It is often used to describe cognacs that are aged for a period less than that of XO, but greater than that of VSOP, i.e. at least 6 years. It is used as an indication of high quality, combining the complexity and maturity that result from a long aging process.

Hors d’Age, which can be translated as “beyond age,” is the term used for cognacs that are so old that they fall outside the traditional classification framework. These distillates, often aged for decades, represent the pinnacle of aging potential and flavor complexity. An example of such a cognac is the aforementioned Pierre Vallet XXO cognac. Hors d’Age are cognacs that gain their value not only through time spent in barrels, but also through their rarity and uniqueness. They offer an extremely deep and intense taste experience, being a true luxury for cognac connoisseurs and collectors who are looking for not just alcohol, but a true work of art.

The art of cognac in your hands

Discovering cognac is not only about learning what types of cognacs there are, but also about immersing yourself in the rich history and culture that shape this remarkable beverage. From the fresh and dynamic VS, to the balanced and harmonious VSOP, to the extravagant XO, XXO, and the interesting Napoleon and Hors d’Age, each type of cognac offers a unique experience that reflects the passion and craftsmanship of its creators. Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or just starting out on your Cognac adventure, remember that every bottle hides a story waiting to be discovered. Now that you know the difference between XO and XXO cognac, you can join the world of premium cognac, which offers an unforgettable experience to anyone who allows themselves to take this sensory journey.