Reviews are something most of us have become accustomed to over recent years. From checking out hotels to deciding if that dog coat on Amazon is worth the money, we’re reviewing more than ever—and that includes our Cognac choices.

The Cognac Expert review platform has become an excellent method of assisting our purchasing selection. Since its inauguration in May 2021, customers’ opinions on the Cognacs they’ve sampled provide a fascinating insight that’s become a valuable tool. Of course, there’s some stand out folks out there who put a great deal of time and effort into writing reviews—and that deserves some recognition.

But first, let’s look at the review platform in a little more depth.

What is the Cognac Expert Review Platform?

 Our review platform is a place where anyone can write their opinion of a Cognac—good or bad—and have it featured in our online shop. Others can read what you’ve said and it may help them decide whether they too would like to try that particular Cognac.

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

How does it work?

We’ve designed a system that suits both experienced Cognac tasters and those at the beginning of their journey. After clicking on the Cognac bottle in our shop or the review platform, you’ll see a button on the review section in the listing. Clicking on this takes you to the review page where you can add a title, make comments, and add your details.

 The platform has been designed to suit all levels of Cognac drinker. You get the choice of providing a simplified score—perfect for those learning about Cognac—or a professional one that delves deeper into the individual nuances of the drink. It doesn’t matter which you do, all have equal weight when it comes to defining the final score.

 The result is a score out of 100. All the reviews for an individual Cognac are combined to show the average score of all the reviewers and this is displayed by the bottle in the listing.

What is evaluated?

To truly evaluate the virtues of a Cognac it’s necessary to consider multiple elements. We’ve purposely made a system that makes this as easy as possible. The first part allows you to assess the flavors in the four quadrants of wood, spice, fruit, and flower. You can also add a score out for the packaging/ bottle design and for value for money.

 The second section is about your tasting experience. You can score each of the nose, mouth, taste, finish, and overall impression sections. Because this is a complex area, we’ve split this into the simplified or professional sections as we mentioned earlier.

Who can review?

In a word, anyone. However, if you’re confirmed as having made the purchase from our online shop then this will show in the listing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a connoisseur with decades of experience or it’s your very first foray into the world of eaux-de-vie, your opinion counts.

 Make sure you’re logged into your Cognac Expert account when making your review. That way we can link your verified purchase to the review, plus it keeps them all in one handy place for you to refer back to.

 It’s also great to make your review personal. It’s simple to add photos from your devices or drag and drop images into the relevant section. Plus, you can add tags for the flavors you felt were most evident during your tasting session.

The Importance of Reviewing Cognac

 Apart from the fact that leaving and reading reviews is a great way to help purchasing choices, it’s also a wonderful way to increase your tasting abilities. By putting what you taste and experience into a structured form you embed the experience within your brain, storing it to compare and contrast when you try more Cognacs.

 Another reason is to widen the Cognac appreciation network across the globe. The internet has provided us with connections that, even a decade ago, were unimaginable. And it’s great fun to strike up conversations with like-minded people around the world and even indirectly help them decide which their next Cognac choice should be.

Head over and discover more about the Cognac Expert Review Platform.

3 Outstanding Cognac Expert Reviewers

 We thought it would be fun to feature the individuals who’ve spent a lot of time and effort posting reviews on our platform. We asked some of them the same set of questions and received great responses. So, without further ado we’d like to introduce them to you. 

Jim Pearson

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers
Jim Pearson sipping cognac next to the bonfire

 With 42 reviews to date, Jim’s self-penned bio reads as:

 “I am an opinionated old man. After half a century of Cognac I still have a pedestrian palate.”

(We like this guy!)

 His questions and answers are as follows:

Cognac Expert: Who are you and what do you do?

 Jim: Born and raised in New Orleans, my Korean wife and I now live 50km north of there in a stone house on a few wooded acres.  At 73, I have been mostly blue-collar all my working days, including 16 years in the offshore oil patch and almost a million miles as an over-the-road truck driver. In the military I was a voice intercept operator, speaking Vietnamese in that war and then German while stationed in West Berlin.  It was in Berlin where I was introduced to Cognac on the night my daughter was born (thank you Gunter Beck).

Cognac Expert: What are your 3 top-rated Cognacs? What do they have in common?

Jim: Bache-Gabrielsen Réserve Sérenité Très Vieille Grande Champagne (93 points), Leyrat Glory Extra (96 points), Prunier XO Très Vieille Grande Champagne (99 points).

 I have a limited taste vocabulary, but not being able to name flavors doesn’t minimize the pleasure in consuming them. In grouping all my highest ratings, what they have in common is their art, their purity, their simplicity and/or that I like them the most. I must admit that many of my Cognac memories are about much more than just the drink.  Atmosphere, friends, occasion; Cognac has been a part of many emotional moments for me, both happy and sad. My higher ratings are lower these days. This is because I’ve learned so much from you all, making me more particular about reviews. The paramount factor remains subjective as ever—my opinion.

 Cognac Expert: If you had to bring a single bottle of Cognac with you while being stranded on a desert island, what would it be?

Jim: So far, I think my favorite of all time is the Mauxion Fins Bois Lot 49. Give me a bottle of that and I’ll go anywhere!

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

 Cognac Expert: Do you read other people’s reviews? If so, what is the most interesting thing about them and what do you get from them? 

Jim: I read many reviews, both to learn more about particular bottles, but also what Cognac houses are doing. I also enjoy seeing how opinions are expressed in different parts of the world. It seems to be a natural thing to inflate ratings numbers, the review narratives help to balance that. 

 Cognac Expert: What are the pros and cons about reviews—in particular, the Cognac Expert review format?

Jim: The review format is good, maybe the graphic plus the sliders for woody/floral/etc. is redundant, but that’s minor.  

Morten Viksoy

Morten Viksoy

 With 42 reviews to date, Morten’s bio goes as the following:

 “Passionate cognac enthusiast from Norway.”

Here his answers to our questions:

Cognac Expert: Who are you and what do you do?

Morten: I am a 51 year old Norwegian, originally from the Bergen area, but now living in Oslo. I am married, with 3 children age 12-19. I also have four Maine Coon cats that often joins us for our cognac tasting sessions. In my professional life I am a private equity professional, I am a partner within a smaller investment firm. I sit on several boards both as board member, but also as chairman. Our main task is to further develop those companies that we have invested in.

Cognac Expert: What are your 3 top-rated Cognacs? What do they have in common?

Morten: Tesseron Trésor (92 points), Marancheville 14/45 (93 points) and Grosperrin No 61 Fins Bois (93 points)

What do they have in common?
These are three great cognacs, but in different ways. The main common thing is that they are all available for purchase in your shop, so they are available for rating. Many of the Cognacs I taste are either old and bought through auctions, or they are bought from independent bottlers, so they are not available for rating. Tresor is a very elegant Cognac, 40%, not very rough. Marancheville has many of the same characteristics. But it is older. No 61 is a bit rough Fins Bois, in a blind taste I am not sure I would recognize it as a Fins Bois. It is also elegant.

Cognac Expert: If you had to bring a single bottle of Cognac with you while being stranded on a desert island, what would it be?

Morten: Fun fact?
I didn’t like cognac very much until 15 years ago. Now it is a big passion. And many of my friends I have met in the Norwegian Cognac environment, primarily on Facebook. If I were to bring only one bottle I would probably bring Grosperrin No 14 or Jean Fillioux 1948. But I had to find new bottles of them, which Is not very easy.

Cognac Expert: Do you read other people’s reviews? If so, what is the most interesting thing about them and what do you get from them?

Morten: Yes, sometimes I do. I am looking for good buys, and I also seek help to describe Cognacs that I am tasting myself. Before relying too much on a review I try to find out how the reviewer is calibrated. Some people give more than 90 points for Cognacs that are not spectacular in any way. Looking at average points given by a reviewer is therefore important information.

Most interesting in reviews?
In general I am looking for an advice, I like reviews that conclude if a cognac is good, and if it is a good buy. Some only write positive reviews. I try to avoid spending a significant amount of money on a mediocre Cognac. To avoid that I need honest reviews. In addition, I am very interested in reading how people describe smell and taste.

John Stumbler

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers
John raising his glass in a cognac cellar

 John has reviewed 38 Cognacs so far. His questions and answers are as follows:

 Cognac Expert: Who are you and what do you do?

John: I work for a charitable housing organization in the UK as a data and performance analyst. I am reasonably new to the world of Cognac but am a seasoned whisky enthusiast with experience of over 1500 whiskies and 85 distilleries to my palate.

 Cognac Expert: What are your 3 top-rated Cognacs? What do they have in common?

John: Hine Antique XO 100th Anniversary (87 points), Brillet Hors D’Age (87 points) & Vallein Tercinier Lot 70 Petite Champagne (86 points). 

My top three Cognacs all display a layered palate, with fruit, oak, and savory elements. 

 Cognac Expert: If you had to bring a single bottle of Cognac with you while being stranded on a desert island, what would it be?

John: If I had to take one bottle of Cognac to a desert island, it would probably be a bottle of Delamain Pale and Dry or, failing that, a Martell Cordon Bleu. Both exhibit an element of high quality but are approachable enough to drink on a daily basis.

Cognac Expert: Do you read other people’s reviews? If so, what is the most interesting thing about them and what do you get from them? 

John: I do read other people’s reviews. Initially, I look for someone who has a similar palate to me. From that point onwards, I will look at how they rate bottles I have yet to try. This will help me to understand if I am likely to enjoy a bottle before buying it. 

I find the individual tasting notes most interesting, especially the more specific and complex notes. I tend to keep my own notes very basic, as I know that one person’s cider is another person’s Tarte Tatin.

 

Tony Menechella

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers
Tony enjoying a beverage in front of the vineyards

Tony is a true connoisseur with huge tasting experience, as his bio shows:

 “I have a passion and love for all spirits, but particularly world brandy and world whisk(e)y. The great people at Cognac Expert have greatly increased my exposure to not only more Cognac, but smaller producers who are doing phenomenal things!! Love you all!! Cheers!” 

  •  CERTIFICATIONS Certified Specialist of Spirits, Society of Wine Educators
  • SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS The American Wine Society National Conference
  • PROFESSIONAL & COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT Member of the American Wine Society,  Judge at the Denver International Spirits Competition and North American Bourbon & Whiskey Competition. Judge & Table Captain at Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Spirits, Table Captain, and the San Diego International Spirits Competition

 Now that’s some resume!

 His questions and answers are as follows:

Cognac Expert: Who are you and what do you do?

Tony: At an early age, I fell in love with the Arts, and knew that I would someday end up living a dream of dancing, performing in plays, or even on Broadway.

Okay, that’s not even remotely true, but I was introduced to alcohol at an early age. Whiskey sours flowed plentifully and frequently at family get-togethers and parties, both planned or impromptu, and my father enjoyed sipping on J & B Blended Scotch. A fun-loving Uncle nicknamed “Shorty” was also more than happy to share a beer or shot of whiskey with his young nephew.

Fast forward to 2004, and while at a “wine club” gathering, a friend introduced me to Lagavulin 16 YR Single Malt Scotch. And while I’ve had scotch, bourbon, and some Canadian whisky prior to that, this was mind blowing, and another game changer, because I had to learn more about this!! I subscribed to Malt Advocate, and immediately read about their WhiskyFests, and made plans to attend the 2005 one in Chicago.

Today, 15 years since that 1st sip of Lagavulin, I’m now a Certified Specialist of Spirits (CSS) and am extremely honored to have been invited to Judge Spirits in four different Spirits Competitions to date. In 2019, I was also honored to have presented two Spirits Sessions at the American Wine Society’s National Conference and have attended 10 various Whisky Festivals.

I currently work for Heaven Hill at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience as a bourbon Educator, and also work for Kroger Wine and Spirits.

Cognac Expert: What are your 3 top-rated Cognacs? What do they have in common?

Tony: Mauxion Fins Bois Lot 49 (97 points), Prunier Vintage 1969 (96 points) & Bertrand XO Decanter (96 points).

What do my top-rated Cognacs have in common? I believe that an exceptional spirit in general, not just Cognac, should speak to you. For most spirits, the truly great ones should be complex, and evolve as it sits in the glass and “opens up” or breathes. Some spirits have taken me a half hour or more to review. The nose, taste, and finish should all be very well balanced and integrated. Many professional reviewers are afraid to give really high, or perfect scores. I’m not sure why. Some have reviewed 1,000+ whiskies, and always find some flaw?? Sounds like nit-picking to me. Sorry if I rambled. Lol.

Cognac Expert: If you had to bring a single bottle of Cognac with you while being stranded on a desert island, what would it be?

Tony: What is my island Cognac?? Hmmmmmm??? I have to go with the Bertrand Heritage No 1, and this is strictly based off Cognacs that I’ve personally tasted, drank, or reviewed.

My Review:

Produced from 100% Petite Champagne, bottled at Cask Strength, 49.2%, and yielded only 500 Bottles. Fruit, floral, and some spice notes lead off on the nose, with some lovely rancio joining over time. Just a phenomenal nose that makes you want to crawl up in the glass. Everything is so well balanced for this age. Fruit, some honey, and the rancio are harmoniously balanced with some wood spice on the palate. I really think the cask strength elevated what was already a stellar Cognac!!

I scored this a perfect 100 in a blind tasting and review, which was after the review that I already posted on Cognac-Expert.

It is family owned and operated, and an exceptionally well-aged Cognac at a hard to beat price. All of those factored into my decision.

Cognac Expert: Do you read other people’s reviews? If so, what is the most interesting thing about them and what do you get from them? 

Tony: In all honesty, I never used to, but I started late last year after I had evaluated a spirit but not yet posted it anywhere. I look at select reviewers based upon the type of spirit it is. It is very difficult to read other reviews because of all the variables involved.  What is their experience level? What type of glass was used? Was water added to the sample or spirit? What are the scoring criteria being utilized? I created a 100-point scoring sheet for my reviews based on my judging experience, and it’s the same one being used for the Cognac Expert Professional Reviews. Not everyone may use the same system.   

Cognac Expert: What are the pros and cons about reviews—in particular, the Cognac Expert review format?

Tony: All of my reviews are done neat, and in a NEAT Glass. That is my standard, but not everyone else’s, and that makes it difficult to read other reviews, but look for some similarities at least. As a Table Captain in a competition, it is my job to bring all of the judges within 5 points of each other for a total score. When I look at other reviews, by reviewers that I trust, I hope to be within a similar range, but also know that there are those variables in play. We are also human and can have an off day. 

 Maybe your nose wasn’t 100%, your palate a little off, or maybe got wrapped up in a Cognac and scored it higher than it should’ve been, or lower. I’m sure that I’m probably guilty of that if I looked at all my reviews, which is why I wish that we could edit our reviews or post an update. We are only human and make mistakes. Producers and distillers shouldn’t suffer because of that.

 

The 5 Best Rated Cognacs

 The following are the current top 5 best rated Cognacs in our online shop.

Marancheville Très Rare Lot N°14/45 Grande Champagne Cognac

95/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

This outstanding Grande Champagne blend of eaux-de-vie from the war years of 1914 and 1945 offers a delicate and aromatic tasting profile. The classic presentation is perfect for a Cognac that only needs its flavors to do all the talking.

Check out the outstanding Marancheville Très Rare Lot 14/45 Cognac.

Pasquet “L’Esprit de Famille” Pierre Cognac

93/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

Tropical fruit aromas abound in this exceptionally well-aged Hors d’Age from Petite Champagne. It’s a wonderful example of the incredible Cognacs that are often produced from small family houses, such as Pasquet.

Discover Pasquet’s “L’Esprit de Famille” Pierre here.

Pierre Ferrand Sélection des Anges Cognac

93/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

Boasting more awards than you can count, Ferrand’s Grande Champagne Sélection des Anges is named after the element of Cognac that evaporates during the aging process—known as “the angel’s share”.

Read about Ferrand Sélection des Anges and its exceptional reviews on the product page.

Prunier XXO Cognac Family Series No 1

93/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

A newcomer to the relatively new age category of XXO, Prunier’s overproof, Fins Bois offering is limited to only 500 bottles. It was created in conjunction with a wine domain in Australia and is truly a Cognac to be treasured.

Find out more about Prunier XXO Series No 1.

 

Navarre Souvenir Impérial Hors d’Age Grande Champagne Cognac

 92/100 points

This Grande Champagne Cognac from the artisanal house of Navarre is impressive from the moment you experience the first tendrils of its complex aromas. A great choice for both the novice and connoisseur.

 Explore Navarre’s wonderful Hors d’Age and how it got an average of 92 points.

The 5 Most Reviewed Cognacs

These 5 Cognacs are the ones that have been most penned about within our online shop. They’ve all got pretty decent overall scores and reading the reviews against your own tasting experience is a fascinating way to increase your own Cognac tasting abilities.

Audry XO Cognac

85/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

The house of Audry is a firm favorite at Cognac Expert, as you can read about in our Family Tasting 2022 article, so we’re delighted that many of our reviewers also agree with us. It’s an impressive Fine Champagne blend that will amaze you that such a high caliber Cognac is available at such a value for money price. 

Buy the Audry XO in our online shop and see for yourself why it is a real winner.

 

Paul Giraud Très Rare Cognac

87/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

Grande Champagne, Hors d’Age, artisan producer… What’s not to like? The small house of Paul Giraud excels at blending delights such as this one premier cru offering.

Head to our online shop for more information about Paul Giraud Très Rare.

Braastad XO Fine Champagne

88/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

Another fab XO at an incredible price, Braastad’s Petite Champagne is a hit with the many people who’ve reviewed its taste profile. Priced lower than you can purchase most VSOPs from the big houses, this is well-deserving of being a cabinet staple.

Discover and purchase Braastad’s XO masterpiece on our shop page.

Sophie & Max Sélection No 2

90/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

We are, of course, delighted that our Cognac makes the list. We devote huge amounts of time and effort in sourcing and creating our signature line. Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement about Sophie & Max Sélection No 3 in the range.

Until then you can sign up to receive notifications when the next edition of Sophie & Max will be available

De Luze XO Fine Champagne

84/100 points

Cognac Reviews 101 & 4 Top Cognac Reviewers

Another multi-award winner, this beautifully presented Cognac is a great introduction to a house that’s finally getting the recognition it deserves.

Dive into De Luze XO and purchase your own bottle on our shop page.

 

Reviews: The Conclusion

 Love them or hate them, in a world where dipping in and out of the virtual plane is now second nature, reviews are here to stay. In regard to Cognac, they’re great tools—both for assisting in your own Cognac education and helping to guide you towards ones you might like to sample.

 The key seems to be working out your own method of interpreting reviews written by others, creating your own unique take-aways that you want to take note of.

 Leaving your own reviews of eaux-de-vie that you’ve tasted is also a fabulous way of helping you classify and grade those you’ve tried. Plus, it’s good fun to return to your musings at a later date to see if your opinion has remained the same or if your palate has changed.

In short, while reviews certainly aren’t the be all and end all of your Cognac purchasing choices, it seems that—for many—they certainly help. 

Tried a Cognac you love or have an opinion about? Head to our review page now and let the world know what you think.

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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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