Advice on Cognac

Discussion in 'The Speakeasy' started by saltypete, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. My Uncle and I meet up every Saturday afternoon to enjoy a tipple and a cigar. Over the last 6 months I have been schooling him on Whisky and we have enjoyed many malts and a few blends, Bourbons and Ryes.
    Yesterday afternoon after working through drams of Elijah Craig, Bruichladdich Waves and 3d he brought out a bottle of Courvosier VS. I was blown away by the softness, complexity and smoothness of this Cognac and I am keen to try more.
    i have done a bit of research and understand the VS, VSOP, XO descriptives and I'm looking to try something else. I don't have access to a large variety of Cognac here in regional Queensland nor do I have the budget to get into the XO's just yet (XO runs close to 200 a bottle here). However my university graduation is in mid april and i may be able to spring for an XO to celebrate that occasion. In the meantime i'm keen to educate myself and have three candidates in mind for my next purchase. They are Courvosier VSOP, Remy Martin VSOP and Hennessy VSOP. All of these are around 70 AUD and easily obtained.
    I'd like some input into what I should purchase from the knowledgable people here.
    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. If you are on a budget take a look at some XO Brandy. I've had a few that are excellent. See what is available in your area. An XO brandy will run you around what a top shelf VS cognac will.

    Sounds like a good excuse to go on another tasting spree if you ask me :a54:
  3. Pete:
    Hmmmm...good question. [​IMG]

    If I had to pick would be Hine VSOP Cognac (did you know that this Cognac was Sir Winston Churchill's favorite?), and I like served either with cranapple juice or as a 'Sidecar' [triple sec & lemon juice], or just with 'on the rocks').

    I find this warm golden color Cognac full of flavor with soft tones of vanilla, honey, oak wood and spice that is very smooth, but kind of intense on the palate that leaves a long and sharp after-taste finish. 'Primo' is the word that comes to my mind. :yesnod:

    That a nutshell the biggest difference between brandy and cognac is that cognac is distilled twice. :thumbsup:

    [​IMG] "All Cognac’s are Brandy...but not all Brandy’s are Cognac". CBJ

    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  4. Remy martin for VSOP. It's also hard to beat Cordon Bleu
  5. Just what I need, another AD :cursing:
    Thanks for the advice Gents. I ended up picking up a bottle of the Remy Martin VSOP for about 59 AUD. After sampling a few snifters it appears I chose well. I am enjoying this cognac, it's complex and bold but quite smooth with a decent length in the finish.

  6. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    Worth looking:

    I love Courvoisier and the VS vs. VSOP has a big difference IMO. The VSOP is much better (YMMV). Have a look for Courvoisier XO and that one is often at $99 at 1st choice liquor or Dan Murphy's. As mentioned in the other thread, if you can get your hands on the Sempe Armagnac (Dan Murphy's) that one is pretty awesome.

    The right glass will change a lot too. If you can use a brandy sniffer or a Glencairn glass, that would be best.
  7. If you like VS, you'll love VSOP; Martell is the other "Big 4" member along with those previously mentioned. Camus (independent & family-owned) is excellent as are Hine & Bisquit (the "minor 3"). It seems nowadays that cognacs seem to be similar because of the domination by the "Big 4" but that is perhaps just my opinion. You probably can't go wrong by drinking VSOP or better.

    Armagnac doesn't really have any large producer(s) as does Cognac; so it seems to have more individuality but VSOP or better is also a good way to select.

    Calvados is made from apples and is also an excellent brandy; great with fruit, nuts, and cheese. Pays 'd Auge is a good indicator of quality and "older is better".
  8. You need two bottles. One for drinking neat ($$$$) and one (a VS) for mixing in any of the number of awesome brandy based cocktails out there.
  9. Thanks for that Luc. I have access to both 1st choice and Dan Murphy's so I will watch out for specials and work my way slowly through their selection of VSOP's. The Courvoiseir XO at $99 looks good too, I'll have to watch out for that one. I have both Glencairn glasses and Brandy snifters. I tried the Remy from a snifter last night and it does wonders for the bouquet of the cognac. Which of the two glasses do you prefer?

  10. I have a bottle of Courvoisier VSOP which the stopper cork has broken off.
    Looks as if I'll have to drink it before it evaporates.

    What a shame. he he he he he
  11. :yesnod:
  12. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    I prefer the Glencairn, I find it more concentrated in that little glass. I'm sure you won't be disappointed in the XO.
  13. I seem to recall tasting some Courvoisier VSOP and thinking it was horrible, but that was quite some time ago, before I started drinking scotch. Perhaps I'll give it another try.
  14. I have been in the US for the last 10 days and have seen the inside of many bars. I have taken the opportunity to sample a few cognacs. I have sampled Courvosier VSOP and XO, Remy Martin XO and Hennessey VSOP. I will pick up a bottle duty free on my return to Sydney tomorrow. The Hennessey I sampled was at the Tropicana in Vegas. I tipped the bartender $10 on a $10 drink and he looked after me. The nips kept getting bigger, and bigger. He didn't use a measure at all. i was well lubricated by the time I went to bed. If your're in Vegas head to the Tropicana bar and look for Fred. Tip him right and you'll be well cared for.

  15. You know, of those three I prefer Courvoisier, but I'm by no means a cognac connoisseur. I do know that when I lived in London my wife and I used to meet up at a pub down the street and they didn't have much of a whisky selection so we took to cognacs and became quite fond of them. Over time, we both settled on Courvoisier as our favorite. I can't tell you why, though, and now that we're back in the States, I pretty much stick to my one bottle of Irish (Powers or Tyrconnell) and two bottles of Scotch (Laphraoig and Highland Park). No cognacs, brandys or armagnacs in my house, unfortunately.
  16. My cognac education is well underway. I picked up a bottle of Remy Martin VSOP before I went overseas and enjoyed it immensely. Coming back I bought a bottle of Martell VSOP duty free and liked that even better. Then last week I found Courvoisier XO on special for $99. I picked up a bottle and put it aside for my Graduation in a couple of weeks. I also bought a bottle of Sempe armangac. This one blew me away. By far the best VSOP brandy I've come across and at a very reasonable price. It will become a staple in my collection.
    Following suggestions in this thread I have imbibed these in both brandy balloons and in Glencairn glasses. I am tending toward the Glencairn as I find it imparts the aroma far better and without giving a concentrated alcohol hit on the nose.

  17. mdunn

    mdunn Moderator Emeritus

    Remy XO in a brandy balloon. Do it
  18. Luc

    Luc Moderator Emeritus

    Happy to see that you found something you like! :thumbup1:

  19. Thanks for all the advice Luc (and everyone else too). It has been invaluable and contributed much to my enjoyment of cognac and armangac. Cheers!

  20. Many, many years ago I was in the wine business and the first cognac I ever had was a vintage bottled sometime in the 1880's. I was permanently spoiled and do not recommend that you go that route.

    Instead, make sure you experiment with some of the small, independently run cognac houses and not just the big mass marketed brands (which are excellent products, just boringly ubiquitous and unsurprising). Wish I had a recommendation for you, but have been out of the business for years. Find a good wine shop though where the owner works there and buys all the stock and he/she will have some interesting recommendations.

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