In this blog, we will be taking a closer look at the oldest and newest official age classification, that of XXO Cognacs. Continue reading to find out how the category came to be, which producers have crafted Cognacs that officially bear the classification, and what our Cognac Expert customers think of each of the XXO offerings.
How XXO Cognacs came to be
This story began all the way back in 1872, when Hennessy invented the concept of the XO Cognac. Their classification was soon adopted by the region and the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), who act as the decision making body for Cognac and decide on the regulations surrounding the French Brandy, to describe Cognacs aged for more than six years.
Fast forward to 2017, and Hennessy was once again looking to change the rules of the game with the launch of a new and prestigious Cognac, marketed as an XXO meaning Extra Extra Old. This marketing technique was used to express the significant age difference between its latest offering and the highest official age category at the time, XO.
However, this bold move sparked controversy with the BNIC as XXO was not an officially recognized classification and the BNIC considered the terminology to be too similar to XO, therefore confusing customers. As a result, the sale of Hennessy’s XXO Cognac was suspended, but the saga continued.
Hennessy was not going to back down from having its newest age category recognized and appealed to the BNIC for it to be included in the official regulations. At the time, the BNIC already had plans in place to change the classification for XO Cognac in April of 2018, with the minimum age increasing from six years to 10. Surprisingly, Hennessy was both successful and incredibly fast-acting in its appeal and the XXO classification was also recognized as an official category in 2018, with it representing Cognacs aged for a minimum of 14 years.
XXOs on the market
Since the introduction of the XXO category, a handful of other producers have brought out Cognacs bearing the classification. The XXO terminology does technically apply to any Cognac above 14 years of age, however, only a small number of houses have actually chosen to name their Cognacs as such. Settle in as we run you through the officially labeled XXO Cognacs and what our Cognac Expert customers thought of them.
According to our customers, Hennessy not only did it first, but they also did it best, with its XXO being the favorite amongst the Cognac Expert community. For this well-aged Cognac the renowned house blended a selection of its finest eaux-de-vie from its extensive collection, with some of the spirits in the blend having been aged for more than 50 years.
The end result is a rich, expressive masterpiece with notes of bitter orange, freshly grated nutmeg, licorice, peppermint leaf, and delicate spices.
What do our customers say?
Tan says: Hard to describe the unique taste and smell. Just with a sip from my experience with the cognacs, I would say “amazing!” Then the second sip is when it’s the best! Some have a strong kick, some are just extremely smooth. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert. But it’s blessing to be able to experience these aged cognac.
Hennessy’s XXO has been given a rating of 94/100 by our customers, ranking it as exceptional and another reviewer even stated that it was the “finest Cognac” they had ever tasted.
Waste no time in purchasing your own Hennessy XXO on our shop and experiencing the finesse that this eaux-de-vie has to offer.
Also on the list is the XXO from Monnet which received a silver medal at both the Meininger’s International Spirits Awards in 2021 and the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition in 2019.
The Cognac presents aromas of mahogany and cedar, accompanied by notes of cherries, sweet blond tobacco, and subtle scents of undergrowth. The palate is incredibly round and immensely rich with flavors of gingerbread and cinnamon.
What do our customers say?
Wenge says: The bottle was opened at a family party:
My wife said that the liquor in the bottle was like ginger sugar water that Chinese people like to drink. After opening the special wooden bottle cap, it overflowed with rosin, cherry fruit, almond, and then tobacco leaves and a fragrance of grass after rain. It’s very attractive and full of mellow fragrance. It’s constantly changing from the tip of the tongue to the stomach. It feels sweet and moistening the throat. The aftertaste is gingerbread and precious wood incense. It’s a very good cognac.
Coming in at 94 points out of 100, one Cognac Expert customer noted how the characteristics of the eaux-de-vie “constantly changed from the tip of the tongue to the stomach.” This is an exceptional Cognac and an evolving aromatic experience that every connoisseur would want to encounter.
You can encounter this bottle by purchasing Monnet Extra Extra Old on our shop now.
Prunier’s first XXO also happens to be the first Cognac in its Family series, a collection of Cognacs produced in very small quantities. The XXO has been crafted from a blend of two vintage Cognacs, from the years 1992 and 1996. The vintage eaux-de-vie was sourced from the Fins Bois terroir and aged for a minimum of 14 years in dark, humid cellars on the Prunier family’s estate.
Delicate and complex aromas of orange peel, cedar, almond, and linden can be found in this blend which is also completely natural, having been reduced without interference or additives over time.
What do our customers say?
Richard says: Concentrated, rich, robust. A serious expression that has lovely fruit intensity, rancio, dried apricots and pears, chocolate and orange peel. Cask Strength but the intensity of flavours carry the alcohol well through the palate which is smooth and moorish. Certainly a great spirit, well defined and at such a small bottling is an seriously good value as well.
Our Cognac Expert customers ranked Prunier’s XXO at 92/100, and described the bottle as “a serious expression.” With only 500 bottles of this eaux-de-vie having been produced, experiencing its captivating flavors is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Only for a short period of time you can now purchase Prunier XXO at a 5% discount on our shop.
Martell Chanteloup XXO
Martell, one the big four Cognac houses, entered into the XXO market with its Chanteloup Cognac, crafted from an impressive collection of 450 eaux-de-vie. The Martell Chanteloup XXO Cognac is the epitome of blending prowess, as eaux-de-vie from Borderies, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Fins Bois have been seamlessly woven together.
It delivers a harmonious offering of honey, vine peach, apricot, fig, almonds, and walnut aromas.
What do our customers say?
William says: Nice balanced Cognac. Pick up a lot of different fruit notes on the nose – peach and fog. Extremely pleasant. First hit on the palette is slightly sweet similar to the nose – a touch sweeter than I like but transitions quickly to a burst of fruit flavors and complexity with almonds. Stays mild. Aftertaste is my favorite – long and pleasant begging you to taste more. Extreme value for XXO class.
Not only has this Cognac received gold and silver awards, but our own customers also rated it 85/100 and one Martell Chanteloup review stated that it is “extreme value for an XXO”.
You can get this magnificent Martell Chanteloup on our shop now, and we would love to hear your thoughts on it.
Ragnaud Sabourin XXO
This Cognac marks the newest release in 2022 for this independent and family-owned Cognac house. The palate of Ragaud Sabourin’s first XXO is round and complex. Aromas of candied fruit, spices, and honey reflect the years it took to create this Grande Champagne Cognac. The finish blends long notes of toasted gingerbread with woody flavors.
Be one of the first to taste Ragnaud Sabourin XXO Cognac that has just been revealed to the world.
De Charville Frères XXO
Another XXO aged well above the requirements, this artisanal Cognac from De Charville Frères has spent more than a generation maturing. The considerable time spent in oak barrels has gifted it with a graceful rancio flavor, amongst other delectable aromas of candied lemon, wood, sweet hints of vanilla, and toasted notes.
This cognac has not received any reviews yet but who knows, maybe you’ll be the first to write one. Discover the De Charville Frères Extra Extra Old Cognac here.
Pierre Vallet XXO
The humble and family-run Cognac house of Pierre Vallet dipped its toes into the production of XXOs with this elegant offering which was aged for considerably longer than the required 14 years. This soft and delicate Cognac presents aromas of vanilla, plums, licorice, candied plums, and has a predominant rancio flavor to it.
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The house of Rody, which dates back to 1628 and resides in the premier cru of Grande Champagne, released a limited edition XXO intended for the most memorable of occasions. The blend is crafted from a wide selection of well-aged eaux-de-vie and the result is a seductive bouquet of ripe plums, dried fruit, licorice, and orange zest.
What about the other houses?
As you can see, although the official XXO category came into effect in 2018, four years later and it is still rather uncommon for producers to adopt this classification for their bottles. Perhaps as time goes on and more new and well-aged Cognacs hit the shelves, we will see a rise in products bearing the XXO label.
What is most surprising is the absence of a Remy Martin XXO, Courvoisier XXO & Camus XXO – we wonder why these leading Cognac houses haven’t taken advantage of the new marketing opportunity, or perhaps they’ve got something in the works. We’ll just have to wait and see!