It might surprise you to know that some of our favorite XO Cognacs include those of some of the smaller, artisan houses. Of course, we also love the ‘big boys’, but when it comes to finding some of the best Cognac brands, it’s worth discovering the craft producers.

Disclaimer: This XO list is from 2016. We shall do a new list soon!

And this left us with only one thing to do; a family tasting session to discover which were really our favorites. Yes, we know, it’s a tough job – but someone’s gotta do it!

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Just to let you know: This list has been created from our own independent tasting session.  We’ve not received any fees from Cognac brands or producers – it’s our personal ‘Top 10’.

We did an extensive tasting with different XO Cognacs in the French countryside. After all, it’s been said that the location in which you taste something has its own bearing on your enjoyment. So where else to choose to taste Cognac but in Cognac?

The tasting team consisted of myself, Max, and 3 family members. Our goal was to identify the 10 best XO Cognacs from our collection for 2016. We tasted 24 different XOs, and only the 10 best made it onto the list. And what an eclectic selection–from Martell Cordon Bleu to Drouet. This is really fun to do with friends and family.

It’s been a while since we posted our last XO Cognac Top 10 list back in 2011. That particular list was based on popularity data.

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

This time, however, our top 10 list has been created on taste alone. It was a completely blind taste test.  We didn’t know the brand, and we didn’t see any packaging or bottles.

Our favorite XO Cognacs from 2016

Let’s first explain how we came up with our favorites. We rated our tasting results using a point system based on the valuation averages of each member of the tasting team. These notes were structured, combining tasting aromas that were split into four general taste categories: Flower, Fruit, Wood, and Spice. The ‘Smooth’ value is based on a 1-10 star rating.

You can see how each Cognac scored in each category on the individual diagrams below each one. This identifies the tendencies of each Cognac–be they leaning towards spicy, woody, fruity etc. And you’ll also see the ‘smooth’ rating represented as well.

Enough talking. Let’s see some results. Drum roll please…

1st Place (96 points): Otard XO Cognac

A somewhat surprising winner… We first tasted this Cognac a few years ago during our Chateau de Cognac & Otard visit. We also took home a bottle–a bottle that somehow did not get as much attention in our cabinet as it should have. Baron Otard XO Gold is an extra old blend of Grande Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois eaux-de-vie.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Baron Otard XO was a worthy winner, receiving a massive 96 points rating by our tasting team.

2nd place (94 points): XO Francois Voyer Cognac Gold

We tasted Voyer Gold XO for the first time in 2010.  And in our independent taste test this is a worthy second place winner.  ‘Gold’ is a pure Grande Champagne Cognac, a rich authentic delight from artisanal Cognac producer, Francois Voyer.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Voyer’s Gold XO offers excellent value for money and has received many awards. Discover Voyer Gold Cognac.

3rd place (93 points): Braastad XO Fine Champagne

This braastad cognac »”>Braastad Cognac was not a regular component of our cabinet until recently. It was only during last summer that our neighbor introduced us to this XO, and we thought it was really well balanced, complex, and rich. The blend consists of grapes from the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne region of Cognac.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Discover Braastad XO Fine Champagne.

4th place (91 points): Cordon Bleu Martell Cognac

Martell Cordon Bleu is an absolute classic.  A very spicy, masculine XO Cognac – in a beautiful bottle. In our opinion the best Martell bottle and one of the best XOs out there.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

The Borderies eaux-de-vie in this Martell blend make the Cognac somewhat exotic: pepper-ish and complex. Discover Cordon Bleu.

5th place (90 points): De Luze XO Cognac

We’ve always liked this XO by De Luze. A Cognac that’s about 20 years old, and a typically mature Fine Champagne Cognac. This blend of Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne makes up a great Cognac with dark fruit and spices, and delicious first hints of rancio.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

And by the way, the bottle is really great too. An excellent all-round product that offers really good value for money. Discover De Luze XO.

6th place (87 points): Hennessy XO Cognac

Hennessy XO is, many would say, one of the best Cognacs out there. Hennessy has a long tradition of dominating the race for the highest quality sources of eaux-de-vie.  And the contracts it holds with top winegrowers and distillers guarantees first-class Cognac making. This Cognac is very round, no sharpness, and the spices are not too heavy. All in all, a very complete and balanced XO.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Hennessy XO Cognac Extra Old comes in an iconic bottle: Both the shape and quality of the decanter are exceptional.
Discover Hennessy XO.

7th place (84 points): ABK6 XO Family Reserve Aged 10 Years

ABK6 XO Family Reserve is a Single Estate Extra Old Cognac from the Cognac producer, Domaines Abecassis, some 10 minutes away from our house in the region.  This Family Reserve was aged for more than 10 years in oak barrels.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Discover ABK6 XO Family ReserveABK6 XO Family Reserve.

8th place (83 points): Louis Royer XO

A complex Cognac: masculine and rich. Royer‘s XO is one of these very deeply mature Cognacs, with great hints of dark fruits – full of aromas with a long finish.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Read more and purchase Louis Royer XO CognacLouis Royer XO Cognac.

9th place (81 points): Leopold Gourmel Age du Fruit 10 Carats

The Léopold Gourmel XO Age du Fruit 10 Carat Cognac is an old XO Fin Bois Cognac. At 41 % ABV, it matches well after white wines, after white meat or fish – or even complements Asian cuisine.  The Age Du Fruit is produed without additives, aged in un-toasted French oak casks, is never chill filtered – and there are certainly no artifial wood notes or the addition of caramel.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Discover Leopold Gourmel Age du Fruit Cognac.

10th place (80 points): Drouet & Fils XO Ulysse Grande Champagne

Drouet XO Cognac is a bottle that somehow slipped into the tasting, we hadn’t planned to include it. But we’re glad we did… This Grande Champagne Cognac gives a round, deep-bodied experience – the team liked it.

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Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Our 10 Favourite XO Cognacs: A Family Tasting

Discover Drouet & Fils XO Ulysee.

We tasted 24 XOs in total. There were 4 members of the panel including myself, Max. The scoring was done on the nose, body, and taste. We hope you like our tasting results and find them useful.

Please feel free to comment below. Any feedback or thoughts are appreciated.

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Author

Max is a spirits expert and speaker, into marketing, technology, startups, and business development. He’s also a farmer. He likes tools and machines, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul. Included in his Top 10 Cognacs are the Audry XO and Bache Gabrielsen 1973.Max founded Cognac Expert in 2010 at his family’s estate in Poullignac, in the Cognac region, France. Started as a blog, today Cognac Expert is the world’s largest website about all things Cognac, a blog, and a specialized online shop featuring 800+ different Cognac bottles.

23 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Great work team of Cognac Expert! I can’t wait to taste the Drouet XO which I ordered from your website on friday. I understand you’ll be doing another tasting this year?

  2. Avatar
    Max (Cognac-Expert.com)

    Hi Bruce, thanks and I’m happy you like our selection. I can tell you this was some (fund) work! Really happy to hear that you picked the Drouet XO. Drouet is an authentic family producer who just remade their bottle design. Yes, we’re going to do another tasting in 2016, probably a VSOP tasting.

  3. Avatar
    audoin de Dampierre

    Great what you have done here. It would be great to include Chateau de Plassac for the next tasting.
    —-
    Superbe ce que vous avez fait
    Serait il possible d’inclure le Château de Plassac, ainsi que vous l’avez gentiment proposé, une prochaine fois pour une prochaine dégustation.
    Cordialement à vous
    A de Dampierre

  4. Avatar

    This is sad.
    Your list corresponds with the most sugared cognacs.
    There are only 2 cognacs on this list I would buy; those not hiding the eau-de-vie with added caramel and sugar.
    Ole in Oslo

  5. Avatar
    Johan Claeson

    Thank You for this report. Highly interesting facts but You have forgotten Courvoisier XO and Bache Gabrielsen XO. Superbe Cognas both of them!
    Sincerely
    Johan Claeson

  6. Avatar
    Max (Cognac-Expert.com)

    Dear Audoin, it’s true we did not include your XO in this tasting because it was simply no longer there in our cabinet. Everyone: Chateau de Plassac XO is a nice hidden champion.

    Dear Ole, which Cognacs would you buy from this list? Which one would you say has the most sugar & caramel?

    Dear Johan, we did not include Courvoisier XO nor Bache Gabrielsen XO – we may do that for the next tasting.

  7. Avatar
    Kevin Baker

    Hi,
    Did you taste any of the Gautier cognacs?
    The XO Gold & Blue won ‘World’s Best Cognac’ at the World Cognac Awards last year, while the Tradition Rare and Pinar Del Rio got ‘Best Cognac’ in the San Francisco Spirits competition in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

  8. Avatar
    Magnus Sørensen

    You obviously offer a decent online shop but your tasting is way off . 96 pts for the Baron Otard XO and 87 pts for Hennessy XO ? ? Stick to your blogs which I very much enjoy but no so much your very limited ratings list which has no structure, maybe and please provide a list of criterion used for the ratings .

    Magnus from Tromsø

  9. Avatar
    Max (Cognac-Expert.com)

    Dear Kevin, yes I personally know the Gautier range – it didn’t make it in the top 10 here.

    Dear Magnus, to be very honest with you I was also surprised to see the end result. I personally really like the Baron Otard VSOP for instance, and obviously the Hennessy XO is a very, very good blend. But, I can tell you that strange things happened when you do blind tastings. The result is an average out of 4 different tasting results. What kind of information would you need in terms of rating? We’re open for any suggestion here.

  10. Avatar

    No Tesseron? Very surprised it did not make your list.

  11. Avatar

    Tesseron would be a good choice here on the list. Their cognacs are extremly smooth and light, which makes them really special and great for certain drinkers.

  12. Avatar

    My husband has just started drinking cognac and I want to get him a nice (and affordable) bottle for his birthday. I can’t seem to find the “Baron Otard XO Gold Extra Old Cognac” in Australia. Would the “Hennessy XO” be a good choice? He likes smoothness and the spice to be mild in his drinks.

  13. Avatar

    Great job! Coincides 99% with my past experiences. One question. Could you do an XO or even Hors d’Age testing that is confined to family owned independent producers in the future? Like many tourists (in my case a house in the Perigord) I pass through the region once or twice a year. Whereas I can easily get the big brands anywhere in the world I find it quite hard to distinguish the merely ok from the excellent among the Small Independent producers unique to the area and at 70-150 € a bottle (and as a driver!) You do not want to make mistakes

  14. Avatar
    Max (Cognac-Expert.com)

    That’s a great idea, we shall get onto that!

  15. Avatar
    Max (Cognac-Expert.com)

    Hennessy XO is a good XO to start of with, yes. Please note that you can also find the Cognacs in our online shop here at Cognac-Expert.com.

  16. Avatar
    Joe Murf

    Kirkland Cognac XO
    Sold at Costco

    Origin?
    Source?

  17. Avatar
    Donn Rutkoff

    Have you ever tasted Giboin? I had only 1 occasion, with 2 or 3 other Cognacs at same time and loved it but never see it.

  18. Avatar
    Inge Richardsen

    This is great! I would recomend BG Thomas X.O Prestige and Pierre Ferrand Ancestrale.

  19. Avatar

    Hi. What can you say about Uzhgorod cognac? Made in Ukraine. Win award in 1997 in parish. ??? Thanks

  20. Avatar
    Gregory G Green

    I enjoyed reading and learning. I am somewhat new to Cognacs. I purchased the Paul Giraud Vieille Reserve XO which is not part of your tasting, maybe you could include in your next one.

  21. Avatar

    Magnus, I have to agree with max on this one. I only do blind taste test. And you will be surprised once you see what your drinking. Kirkland xo from Costco beat out Remy xo, pierre Ferrand reserve.
    I would love to know what family makes the Kirkland xo, I have a bottle of A. De Fussingny and the bottles are the same and have some commend tasting notes.
    Max have you ever tried the Pitaud line of cognac?
    Thx
    Frank
    California

  22. Avatar
    Katja (Cognac-Expert.com)

    Hey Alex,

    Unfortunately, we are not familiar with this brandy. Please note that if produced in Ukraine, it cannot be a `Cognac` – but nevertheless, it can be a good product of course!

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