It’s not often that groundbreaking news hits the world of Cognac. XO But today we can reveal that it’s been agree that in addition to the much-loved VS, VSOP, and XO qualities of Cognac, the brand new category of X.X.O. Cognac is being given the green light. This really is massive. Because it was way back in the early part of the 19th century when the original Cognac classifications came into being. And nothing’s officially changed since then. But what does X.X.O Cognac mean? Cognac Expert is here to demystify the new category of Cognac.

Last year Hennessy made headlines when they launched a premium bottle, the Hennessy XXO Hors d’Age Cognac. However, they were forced to abandon the name because it was ruled that there was no official specification for such a Cognac. Even a challenge by the LMVH heavyweight (Hennessy) was unsuccessful, meaning they had to change their labeling on the prestige bottle.

XXO Cognac: What Does It Mean?

But let’s not forget how staunch the French are when they think something deserves to be challenged. And when Hennessy rolled up its sleeves to head into battle, they were backed by many other Cognac producers who began to lobby the INAO (the National Institute of Origin and Quality) who’re responsible for the rules that govern all of the country’s wine appellations.

The backbone of Hennessy’s argument was that many years ago–1872 to be exact– the company launched a bottle of what was called, Hennessy XXO. However, they abandoned marketing the product in the 1930s. But last year the world’s number one Cognac brand invested heavily in this new XXO. They claimed to the court that the ‘new’ product had cost more than 1.6 million euros to develop. Consequently, if they were prevented from bringing it to market it would lead to a shortfall of some 2 million euros per year. Not to mention the harm it would do to the image of brand Hennessy.

XXO Cognac: What Does It Mean?

And today it’s been announced that the new grade, XXO, will come into being, with the youngest eaux-de-vie in any blend being aged for a minimum of 14 years. Just goes to show that there really is strength in numbers, so well done to those producers who fought the good fight.

Of course, this means the Cognac giant can once again label their prestige bottle as an XXO, which is destined mainly for the lucrative Asian market. It’s also a landmark ruling because, in many cases, certain lesser quality brandies in Asia are trying to use the term, XXO, in order to make customers perceive that they’re a premium brand, even though it’s not necessarily the case.

XXO Cognac: What Does It Mean?

It’s a great move, bringing the XXO category firmly back in the control of the Cognac industry. The BNIC expect to publish the finer points of this new ruling by the end of the year. Naturally, it will apply to everyone, meaning that all Cognac producers will eventually be able to market their premium Cognacs as XXO.

This really is a massive news story. Even the BBC have picked up on it. And they contacted us for an exclusive interview with Max! Check out the BBC podcast to hear it.

2018 is really shaping up to be the year of big news. At the beginning of the year the official age of an XO quality was raised to 10 years (up from six years), although there is a transitory period until 31 March 2019. Read more about this new ruling in our blog article.

Discover more about the Hennessy XXO Hors d’Age Cognac.


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XXO Cognac: What Does It Mean?

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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.

1 Comment

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    I could be wrong but isn’t the usage of eaux-de-vie meant for plural Brandies and eau-de-vie for singular ones?

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