The start of a journey—any journey—is always exciting. And for those who’re taking their first tentative steps along the road to Cognac enlightenment, welcome! You’ve just entered a world of sensory ecstasy.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
Learning about Cognac is all about the discovery of aroma, taste, and how aspects such as terroir and age influence the sensory journey

We know there’s a lot of you out there, because one of the most popular questions posed to Cognac Expert is “what’s the best Cognac brandy for beginners?”

It’s not surprising, because for many their first Cognac experience is in a bar or restaurant. And, let’s be honest, unless you visit an establishment that specializes in eau-de-vie, all you’re likely to be served is a VS or VSOP from one of the “big 4” (Hennessy, Remy, Martell ,or Courvoisier), or if you’re lucky there might be an XO on offer, or perhaps something from Camus.

Top tip—check out our article Best Bars in the World to Drink Cognac for some great places around the globe that have an awesome selection of Cognacs on offer.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
Except for some specialist options, most bars don’t offer a great selection of Cognacs to choose from

The thing is, when you’re a Cognac newbie looking to purchase a bottle or two for your own collection it can be somewhat intimidating to choose the thousands of options. What you need is a great Cognac guide for beginners that not only tells you what to buy, but the reasons you should do so.

Voila! Your wish is our command.

We’ve put together a list of what Cognac to buy when you’re looking to develop your palate, increase your knowledge, and discover the delightfully different nuances that age, terroir, brand, and more bring to the table. Not forgetting, of course, having a rip-roaring taste-fest along the way, and—importantly—all at a cost that won’t break the bank.

Because if there’s one thing our years of experience has brought us, is that an expensive bottle of Cognac doesn’t necessarily mean better quality.

Our top 9 list includes details such as age, terroir, awards, and price to provide the ultimate directory for beginners to select a Cognac or two that’s not only delicious, but will help you take the next steps towards knowledge and, eventually, expertise.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The ultimate guide to Cognac for beginners

1. Marancheville VSOP Grande Champagne

At a glance

– Price: €49

– Age: VSOP

– Growth area: Grande Champagne

– Awards: Watch this space

This delightful VSOP only came to market in 2016 and is wonderful example of all that’s great about the Grande Champagne terroir. The house of Marancheville is relatively young, but its owners, Gregoire and Laurent, certainly have the know-how and expertise to make truly top-notch Cognacs. It’s powerful, fresh, and evolves from the initial pastry aromas through fruits and wild honeysuckle and is complex and rounded on the palate. This makes for an easy-drinking experience that evolves through the whole process of nose, palate, and finish. A great way to hone your senses to the journey of tasting Cognac.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
Marancehville VSOP is an affordable, flavorsome VSOP that showcases the Grande Champagne terroir

Discover more about the Marancheville VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac.

2. Marancheville XO Grande Champagne

At a glance

– Price: €124

– Age: XO

– Growth area: Grande Champagne

– Awards: Again, watch this space

A Cognac that certainly gives XOs from Hennessy and the famous houses a run for their money, and at a far more affordable price. A well-aged blend from Grande Champagne (the premier cru) that showcases how tangy, nutty, and woody flavors dominate Cognacs that fall into the spicy taste quadrant. It also has a wonderful rancio—the mysterious, mushroomy, earthy flavor that only comes about with extended aging and is extremely sought after. Try alongside its younger VSOP cousin (above) for a great “compare and contrast” tasting opportunity.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The Marancheville XO is a great example to learn about ranch

Further details on the Marancheville XO Grande Champagne Cognac can be found in our online shop.

3. Park Napoleon Borderies Cognac

At a glance

– Price: €79

– Age: Napoleon

– Growth area: Borderies

– Awards: Silver—IWSC, Gold—San Francisco World Spirits Competition

An excellent example of a Napoleon Cognac, which is an unofficial age statement that’s comparable to an XO. It offers a delicate taste experience, is light on the palate, and has the wonderful tones of violets so typical of the Borderies terroir. All of Park’s products are created in small batches, meaning the highest of quality each and every time. This is a really easy drinking Cognac, and one that we recommend trying in many different ways to experience the subtle taste alterations this brings, such as neat, over ice, direct from the freezer, and even with a little drop of water.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The Park Napoleon Borderies is light, delicate and an excellent choice to introduce your palate to the delights of Cognac

Learn more about the Park Napoleon Borderies Cognac.

4. Bache Gabrielsen American Oak

At a glance

– Price: €54

– Age: VSOP

– Growth area: Blend

– Awards: Best Cognac—Spirits Innovation Awards, Gold—New York International Spirits Competition, Very Good (87 points) Ultimate Spirits Challenge USA, Silver—San Francisco World Spirits Competition

When Bache first brought out American Oak in 2017 it was a truly innovative product and the first of its kind. This VSOP gets its magical touch thanks to the aging process being completed in Tennessee oak barrels. This has led to a distinctly bourbon-esque taste experience, and this, combined with fruity, almost tropical aromas and flavors, makes for an extremely versatile Cognac. A great choice to evolve your palate and knowledge of how different cask finishes have a direct influence on the final product.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The innovative Bache Gabrielsen American Oak is a great introduction to cask finished Cognacs

Delve into the intricacies of Bache Gabrielsen American Oak Cognac and buy in our online shop.

5. Remy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish

At a glance

– Price: €59

– Age: VSOP

– Growth area: Fine Champagne

– Awards: Silver Outstanding IWSC

We recommend this slightly offbeat offering from Remy, as opposed to their regular VSOP, mainly because of the finishing procedure that brings about a much smoother taste experience. It’s designated a Fine Champagne, which means that at least 50% of the eau-de-vie hails from Grande Champagne and the rest from Petite Champagne. We have to say that this Cognac represents excellent value for money, especially as an offering from one of the big houses usually comes with a premium price tag.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The smooth taste of the Remy VSOP Mature Cask is one of their most affordable quality options

Delve into the world of the Remy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish Cognac.

6. ABK6 XO Family Reserve Aged 10 Years

At a glance

– Price: € 117  

– Age: XO – specifically 10 years

– Growth area: Fins Bois

– Awards: Gold, outstanding IWSC

The family-run house of ABK6 have produced this age-statement Cognac from eau-de-vie produced from their own vineyard—in other words, they’ve not bought in any of the base product from other growers. This also means that it can be described as a “single estate Cognac”. The grapes were grown in the Fins Bois terroir, and it’s a great example of how good Cognacs from this growth region really are. As the name suggests it’s been aged for 10 years, making it an XO quality. A fruity, pastry dominated Cognac, with good tones of licorice and oak on the nose.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The ABK6 Family Reserve is a top example of a single estate Cognac at an affordable price

Discover more about the ABK6 XO Family Reserve Aged 10 Years Cognac.

7. Deau URB’N De Luxe

At a glance

– Price: €44

– Age: VS

– Growth area: Blend

– Awards: Multiple

When it comes to the fiery exuberance of a VS Cognac, none do it better than Deau with their innovative offering known as URB’N. Its fresh—almost minty—on the nose, with a palate that boasts white pepper, zesty yellow fruits, and floral hints. This makes for a wonderful choice to not only enjoy neat, but to pep up a cocktail and experience why the nightlife scene has embraced the new breed of Cognacs blended specifically for this purpose.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
URB’N is a good choice for both drinking neat and within a cocktail

Get the lowdown on the Deau URB’N De Luxe Cognac and purchase a bottle to add to your collection.

8. Audry XO

At a glance

– Price: €79

– Age: XO

– Growth area: Fine Champagne

– Awards: Watch this space

Audry is Cognac Expert’s find of the year, and this XO isn’t just a great example of this age quality, but it offers this at an almost unbelievably low price. A truly elegant Cognac—creamy, spicy, and the epitome of how beautifully rounded an older blend can be. An exceptional option to hone your ability to detect the different flavors that evolve throughout the tasting experience.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The Audry XO will amaze with its high quality-low price tag combination

Discover the wonders of the Audry XO Cognac and treat your palate to what is, quite simply, an extraordinary sensory experience.

9. Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne

At a glance

– Price: €57

– Age: VSOP

– Growth area: Grande Champagne

– Awards: Multiple, to include Gold—International Spirits Challenge, Gold—International Spirits Competition, Gold—San Francisco World Spirits Competition

A VSOP that’s a very fine example of how, depending on the age of most of the components in the blend, such quality can rival that of the higher age quality of XO. Maxime Trijol has excelled themselves in producing a deliciously fruity and floral creation, one that’s been continually showered with awards since it was produced in 2011. An easy-drinking Cognac that’s as delicious neat as it is as an uber-special component in your favorite cocktail.

Top 9 Cognacs For Beginners To Enjoy
The multi-award winner VSOP from Maxime Trijol contains well aged eau-de-vie making it rival many lower end XOs

Find out more and fall in love with the Maxime Trijol VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac

As well as tasting the Cognacs themselves, take a look at our blog section, What is Cognac, where you can discover lots of information about aspects such as growth regions, aging, terminology, and more.

When it comes to selecting the best Cognac for beginners, you really do have a wonderful range to choose from. So relax, take your time, and most of all enjoy. Because unlike that forgotten gym membership, dusty fishing tackle, and cross stitch patterns stuffed in the back of a drawer somewhere, this is the one hobby that we promise you’ll never get bored of…

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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