How to Store a Cognac Bottle

How do I store a Cognac bottle?  It’s a question that we’re often asked, and is something that many people have varying opinions on.  Another often raised question is, how long can you keep an unopened bottle of Cognac?  So, in answer to the many requests for information on the subject, here are some considerations to take into account regarding best practice when it comes to storing Cognac.

The first thing to understand is that Cognac does not continue to age once bottled. This means that storing a bottle for 10 years (or more) will not make it any older – the contents will remain the same age as they were when they left the barrel. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s not worth buying an exceptional bottle and storing it for as log as you like.  As we’ve reported many times, there are a great many people who’re investing in high-end Cognacs, rather than entrusting their money to the coffers of the banks.

and old cognac bottle

and old cognac bottle

So, with regards to an unopened and sealed bottle of cognac, if stored correctly then the contents will remain safe for a good amount of time.

What is the best way to store my cognac bottle?

You may well have heard that the bottle must be stored in an upright position so the Cognac doesn’t come into contact with the cork, and this may well be correct. However, cork is not a substance that has an infinite lifespan, and if it’s not in contact with the Cognac at all then it might become dry.  Bottles should be kept in the shade and in a cool place with no extremes of temperature – a cellar is ideal.

But, a word of advice – if the environment is too humid, the labels might suffer and come off the bottle – obviously not an ideal scenario.  This is why a cellar often proves a hospitable place to store Cognac, with the temparature in such a place remaining fairly constant, as well as ensuring that the bottle isn’t exposed to any sunlight.

And when it comes to understanding the best temperature at which to keep your Cognac, then the most important thing to consider is that it’s constant.  In other words, no extremes of temperature.  Indeed, room temperature is quite sufficient.

 

If you open a bottle of cognac, how long will it keep?

Regarding an open bottle, then there’s no official amount of time a Cognac can be stored before the quality will begin to fade.  However, once the Cognac comes into contact with the air, it will gradually begin to deteriorate and evaporate.  The more air in the bottle, the faster this will happen.

Realistically, you can think that it’s okay to store an open bottle of Cognac for around six months before this deterioration becomes noticeable.  If you wish, you can decant the contents into a smaller container.  This ensures the air to liquid ratio remains as small as possible, helping to slow the deterioration process.

But even though an open bottle will deteriorate with age, it’s still fine to drink.  It’s just that you might notice a difference in the taste as the months go by.

How long can you keep Cognac?

Now, this is a very commonly asked question; how many years can you keep a bottle in your cellar?  Well, the simple answer is, for a long time – but not too long.  Old Cognacs are a fragile product.

So there you have it.  Our advice on how to store a Cognac bottle.  We hope it answers many of the questions of those who’ve taken the time to write in.  And naturally, if someone has an opinion. remark, something to add or even to correct, please use the comment section below.

 

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16 Responses

#1 cognac@brandyclassics on Jul 1, 2011, says:

It is actually not currently true to say that you can store cognac indefinitely, certainly modern cognacs can be stored in glass for very long periods but a gradual deterioration will occur as a result of the cork gradually breaking down in the cognac vapour. It is normally recommended that the cork should be changed every ten years. We have found that a cork will last double that time providing the bottle is stored correctly. There is also a requirement for the cork to be sealed so that the air cannot pass through the dry cork as it gets older. Most bottles are wax sealed to prevent this happening.
There is one further and relatively unusual phenomena which can be a problem with very old cognacs. We have come across a few cases where the spirit can laminate away from the remaining water content and this is usually caused by poor or agressive handling of the bottle. Old cognacs do become fragile and must be handled very carefully. very old cognacs that have broken down are instantly recognisable when tasted, the alcohol level will drop away significantly and will it provide a flavout rather like water that you have washed old leather boots in!

#2 Narada Brind'Amour on Jul 1, 2011, says:

“On the other hand, if the cork is not in contact with the cork at all,“ could possibly be
“On the other hand, if the cork is not in contact with the cognac at all,“ ?
And so much thanks for thoses great answers.

#3 ahmad assegaf on Sep 1, 2011, says:

yesterday I bought an extra martin remy excellence already in the store with people that I bought a 7 year deal and when I get home I go to try to taste the sense that when I open the cognac bottle cap his cork moist try weathered like I finally prying with a knife and I do remy martin xo moved him to the bottle which I had Martell cordon bleu because unfortunately if yawn .. anyone ever had experiences like saua? or understand why this happens?

#4 Per on Oct 11, 2012, says:

Lying flat on a suitable shelf, as what I have “heard”…!? As it happens, I have a bottle of very old cognac, -perhaps 100 years old, at least- any suggestions…?

#5 Nort on Oct 12, 2012, says:

Bottles must be stored upright so that the cognac does not come into contact with the cork. On the other hand, if the cork is not in contact with the cognac at all, the cork may become dry, therefor turn your bottle upside down once/twice every year.

#6 Paul on Dec 11, 2012, says:

Hello everyone, I work for a valuation company in the US that is contracted by insurance companies for claims. I usually handle damages to wine cellars but I was recently given a cellar containing only cognac to assess. I know quite a bit about wine but am rather ignorant when it comes to spirits.

I have been able to find near nothing pertaining to potential heat damage on cognac. The cognacs for the cellar I am assessing were exposed to temperatures around or just exceeding 100F for several days in a row. These are all expensive Cognacs such as Remy Martin Extra FIne Champagne, Henessy Richard Extra, etc…

The stoppers on the decanters, which are all still sealed, appear to be a little raised, about 2 to 3 milimeters. So it is possible that the heat was enough to expand the liquid and cause this as it will invariably do to wine exposed at such temperatures. Otherwise there no damage to any of the bottles/decanters.

In your opinion:
a) will this kind of heat affect the Cognac itself?
b) how about its value for collectors?

Thank you so much for any help you could provide me, or the referral to any literature on the subject. I have perused the entire Los Angeles central library collection of books devoted to wine and spirits, which is quite extensive, but to no avail.

#7 Alvin on Dec 12, 2012, says:

What is the point of using a cork to seal the bottle if the point is to keep things air tight? (other than reasons of tradition)

Can i argue that the best way to store cognac is to replace the cork with an air tight stopper made with non-degradable materials?

#8 michele on Dec 28, 2012, says:

Thanks for the straight forward and simple article. It sounds like my simple and unspectacular bottle of Hennessy although opened for a couple of years will still serve fine for my Coq Au Vin recipe tomorrow as long as the cork has not turned to dust in the meantime. Perhaps I should give you folks the recipe as it is a superb way to use up that old cognac, that is likely to have gone too old to offer a pleasant drink. That would perhaps be a nice addition to your site. Thanks again

#9 Gib on Dec 31, 2012, says:

I still haven’t received a definite answer as how to properly store cognac. I have heard store like wine so cork stays moist but on the other hand it will destroy the taste of the cognac. So my question is what is the proper way. Thanks

#10 Dick Gibbs on Dec 31, 2012, says:

I have been a lover of cognac for many years and bought a house in Jarnac. The home of such brands as Hine, Louis Royer, Corvoisier,Dalamain and many more.
Our house was once part of AE Dor cognac and the remaining buildings around us still house some of the oldest and finest cognac in the world. I have visited the paradis cave on many occasions and can assure you all the bottles and demijohns are standing upright with wax seals. If you visit their web site http://www.Aedor.fr the first page has a picture of the paradis confirming my observations.
Cool, humid dark and upright I would say is the best way to store your cognac.
Don’t worry about the length of time you keep it since it’s a drink that has to be in a glass to be fully appreciated. Then and only then try and make it last as long as possible.
Once the cognac has left the barrel it’s taste will never change. It is the job of le nez to ensure every XO is blended to taste and smell the same year after year which is why the bottles are undated unlike wine.
The value of the cognac comes from the rarity of indidual blends it is made from some over 200 years old. These are fast running out hence the never ending search for old demijohns or barrels hidden away in old houses and cellers. You are unlikely to get the opportunity to buy one of these so let some one else worry about it and get on the serious business of drinking in my opinion the King of spirits.
Cheers Dick……

#11 Mister P on Oct 30, 2013, says:

I find many notes discussing cognacs in bottles but would like to know what is wrong with my handling. I pour my cognac into a crystal bottle with a crystal/glass stopper. The stopper will not stay in the bottle. Comments ? P

#12 suzanne on Nov 12, 2013, says:

Hi, my dad gave me a bottle of 1955 remy martin cognac he was stationedin franceand bought it there. It has evaporated a bit is it safe tp drink????

#13 Hemant on Mar 1, 2014, says:

I have Camus XO cognac bottle with glass lid and cannot open it. Any tricks?

#14 Eric on Jun 24, 2014, says:

If it helps, had a small amount of Remy X.O remaining which I had to drink to make room for the Cellar no.28 reserve, both we’re very impressive :-)

#15 Marlies on Jun 28, 2014, says:

I was given a bottle of cognac in 1969. At the time I was told by the Frenchman, who gave it to me, that it came from the year 1935. As there is no date on the label, I am not sure.
The label says:
Cognac
Grand Fine Champagne
Ancestral
Reserva de la Famille
J.P. Menard et fils St Meme (Chte)

and has the bottle number 000118

Can anyone tell me anything about this cognac?

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