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Cognac pouring in the glass from bottle. Hand puts a carafe with golden cognac and pouring into the glass, wooden table near logs. Strong drink - brandy or whiskey close-up. Alcohol amber drink

Among the various spirits in the world, cognac has maintained an air of smoothness and sophistication over the years that speaks to its rising popularity. While it isn’t one of the top-selling spirits in the United States, June 4 is noted as National Cognac Day and we’re looking at some of our favorite brands along with others that we hope to experience in time.

The origin of National Cognac Day remains as elusive as the first time I covered the drinking holiday. That said, it is recognized as such and I will be frank in telling readers that it is a spirit I’m still getting to know in my adult beverage coverage.

For those initiated, cognac is a fruit-based brandy, essentially a spirit made from distilled wine and often finished in wooden casks, which some of the larger cognac houses specialize in. What makes cognac unique is that, like tequila, it can only be produced and called as such if it hails from grapes grown in the Cognac region of France.

If you want to get into the wonky weeds with me, cru cognac’s white wine distillate must be made from at least 90 percent of the Ugni blanc grape. That same grape also makes armagnac, another type of French brandy. Other grape varieties are used to make up the remaining 10 percent. Now, if a cognac isn’t named a cru, the grape varieties and breakdowns can be more scattershot.

Cognac has various age statements, not unlike whiskey, whisky, aged tequila, and more.

By way of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), the official quality grades of cognac are V.S. (Very Special), V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale), X.O. (Extra Old, X.X.O (Extra Extra Old), and Hors d’âge (Beyond Age). If you’ve ever purchased cognac, these designations and their differing price tags that go up in age should be familiar.

There are four major houses or “Maisons” of cognac: Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin (not ranked, just in alphabetical order for those keeping score). I never had Courvoisier nor has any agency sent me a pitch about the brand, so I’m not including brands I’ve no real experience with on this list.

I’m getting a rather late start to National Cognac Day but below, I have a small gallery of brands I’ve enjoyed over the years in hopes that you’ll join me for a glass. I know I’m primarily viewed as a cocktail enthusiast but I do enjoy a nice neat pour of cognac after a hearty meal.

Keep scrolling to read about the cognac brands we’re checking for today and beyond. As always, sip safely and surely. Cheers.

Bisquit & Dubouché

Bisquit & Dubouché

Source: Bisquit & Dubouché / Bisquit & Dubouché

I wrote about Bisquit & Dubouché in 2022 after a virtual tasting event where I got to experience the brand’s V.S.O.P. and X.O. expressions. I found both of these cognacs to be vastly smoother than some of my earlier experiences with cognac and I barreled through those bottles while sharing with friends. Now that it’s available in the United States, I’ll be making a purchase soon.

Learn more here.

D’usse

Taste of Asia, Sponsored By D'USSE Cognac

Source: Roy Rochlin / Getty

D’usse most likely landed on the radar of many cognac fans due to its connection to Jay-Z, who sold his controlling share of the brand to Bacardi in 2023. Produced by Château du Cognac, another well-established cognac house, this is a smooth-drinking sip, and the brand’s  V.S.O.P., which I just tried last month, is worth a splurge. One day, I’ll get around to that X.O.

Learn more here.

Hennessy

Hennessy has a strong foothold in the global spirits industry and has aligned itself with Hip-Hop music and culture through collaborations with Nas, Rakim, and others. It was the first cognac I had experience with (V.S., I was never a baller like that), and I have done some amazing things with this cognac on the cocktail side. Want a killer Sidecar or Sazerac? Hennessy is the way to go.

Learn more here.

Martell

Martell is considered the oldest of the “Big Four” cognac houses and I’ve written extensively about the brands in this space. I’ve had the Blue Swift, made with bourbon drinkers in mind, and the Cordon Bleu, its pricier sibling. I found myself making bourbon-styled stirred drinks with the Blue Swift while the Cordon Bleu has been reserved for celebrations.

Learn more here.

Rémy Martin

Growing up in the Washington, D.C. area, some of the fat cats I would see in the nightclubs where I worked often had their go-to cognacs and Rémy Martin was often their choice. So far, I’ve had the V.S.O.P. and 1738 Accord Royal expressions, both are made for slow sipping as the sun sets on a long day.

Learn more here.

Photo: Getty

Celebrate National Cognac Day With These Stellar Bottles  was originally published on cassiuslife.com