22.11.2021 - 3 min

A Beginners Guide To Cognac


    Cognac: A Beginners Guide

    Our Cognac guide will explain everything you need to know about the timeless ‘spirit’. It doesn’t matter how much time has passed, tradition holds centuries worth of meaning to many generations, in the same way, Martell Cognac has with its own. Follow and engage with these simple know-hows, for soon you’ll become your own swanky Cognac ‘aficionado’.

    What is Cognac and Where Does It Come From?

    Cognac is a specific type of brandy that’s gone through double distillation and aged for a specific period of time in fine-grain barrels. In order to make sure that you’ve got the right stuff, it really comes down to the official and traditional production of Cognac. For a spirit to be called ‘Cognac’, it can only inherit its name from the very area that it came from, commonly produced from the white grape vineyards in the regions of Charente, Cognac.

    The history of Cognac dates back to the 16th century, where dutch traders travelled to the southwest of France in the search for commodities. This was when the old town of Cognac began to witness the early days of the salt trade and the formation of trading houses – the very beginning of Jean Martell’s 300-year journey.

    The Basics

    When eau de vie is incorporated and blended into a Cognac, the blend can come from a wide range of ages. The Cognac gets categorized based on the ages of the Eaux de vie within the blend. The defined categories of Cognac currently include:


    • Categorised as ‘Very Special’ or known as three stars.
    • The youngest Cognac blend is aged for a minimum of 2 years.


    • Categorised as ‘Very Superior Old Pale’.
    • The youngest Cognac blend is aged for a minimum of 4 years.


    • Categorised as ‘Extra Old’
    • Pre-2018, the minimum age for an XO cognac was a minimum of six years. Whereas today, the youngest Cognac blend is aged for at least 10 years.

    Vintage and Limited Edition

    • Cognacs’ that vary with unique aged blends of Eaux de vie.

    How To Enjoy A Bottle Of Cognac

    When it comes to a bottle of cognac and the ‘how to’, It’s really about appreciating and understanding the essence, flavour and aroma. What really makes Cognac super special is that it’s not just an after-dinner thought. It comes in handy when you’re looking for a good meal to pair it with or enjoy socially, which for the most part, is a great way to introduce the spirit into your lifestyle.

    A knowledgeable cognac drinker would know the in’s and out’s of how to get the most out of the timeless spirit. The best way you can do this is to swirl your glass for several minutes, bringing it down to room temperature quicker. This classic method brings out the aroma and taste for good measure.

    To get a better idea of the age, take a good look at the colour of the cognac as this will give you an indication of how old it is. For example, older cognacs tend to appear darker in colour which comes from the exposed tannins in the wooden oak barrels. If you want to, simply swirl your glass and use your nose and take in what your senses are telling you.

    The Best Cognac To Buy For Beginners

    By exploring the different styles and individual tasting notes, you’ll be able to experience 300 years of Martell Cognac in the best way possible. Whichever cognac you choose to taste, be sure to take your time and enjoy it. For more of an in-depth approach, learn everything there is to know about Cognac and how to drink it.

    Martell Cordon Bleu

    A unique XO Cognac that is beautiful and complex with its rich aromas. Use your senses to take in the orchard fruit – candied plum and apple – harmonising with roasted notes of mocha coffee, toasted almonds and vetiver. For taste, you’ll notice the sensation enhanced by Borderies Eaux-de-vie with a nice long finish characterised by notes of fruit and spices. Martell Cordon Bleu is best served neat or with a splash of water.

    Martell VS

    A delightful way to ease into a Martell Cognac is with the VS. A perfect combination of spirits from a single distillation source in France’s Cognac region for a richer and more intense expression of the Martell distillation style. Enjoy the Intense aromas of plum, apricot and candied lemon to pair with the luscious fruity aromas that make up the hallmark of Martell. Martell VS is best served in tall drinks and cocktails.

    Martell VSOP

    This beautifully selected VSOP Cognac references the aged colour of the wooden oak, enhancing the Intense aromas of ripe yellow fruit: mirabelle plum, greengage, apricot and vine peach. The luscious fruit notes fuse well with the hints of wood and soft spices from the red barrels, giving it the perfect balance and elegance. Martell VSOP is best enjoyed neat, on ice or in tall drinks and cocktails.

    Martell XO

    Fill your senses with a spicy aroma complemented by notes of black and pink pepper and coriander, rounded out by rich aromas of fig, walnut and sandalwood. Experience the intense taste of fig, red fruit and blackcurrant bud that gives full expression to the finesse of Eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne, leading into a long and robust finish. Martell XO is best served neat, on ice or with a dash of water.

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    Please do not share with anyone under 18. Drink responsibly.

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