It might surprise you to know that some of our favorite XO Cognacs of 2016 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!
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.
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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 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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.Buy & Info
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.