How to determine the quality of cognac and what to focus on when choosing

Cognac is a brandy made from special white grapes grown in the Cognac region of France. Real French cognac is never bad by definition - rather, it will be about taste preferences. We will tell you how to find your drink, knowing the regions of production, the classification of aging, the main cognac houses.

Glass with cognac

Cognac and its younger brother brandy are among the five most popular spirits in the world.

Why French cognacs are never bad

Cognac can be called a grape brandy made only in one place - in the vicinity of the town of Cognac in the Charente district. The territory for its production was demarcated in 1909, and in 1936 it was legislatively formalized in the Appellation d`Origine Controlee (AOC) Cognac, which was assigned the right to use this name.

For cognac producers this is not only a privilege, but also a great responsibility. All stages of making the drink - the origin and quality of raw materials, methods of vinification and distillation, aging periods, requirements for barrels and cellars - are strictly regulated and controlled by the National Interprofessional Bureau of Cognacs.

The producers themselves monitor the quality of drinks no less rigidly, many of whom trace their history back to the late 18th - mid-19th centuries. There are strict standards for each blend, and the cellar masters strictly adhere to them.

This combination of external and internal control has raised the bar of French cognacs so high that even the most budgetary of them deserves respect and trust.

Brandy production

By combining and mixing hundreds of cognac spirits, cellar masters create perfectly balanced compositions with the recognizable style of a particular brand.

What determines the quality of cognac

Primarily from raw materials. For a good distillate, you need acidic and weak, with a low alcohol content (7-9%), aromatic wines. These are the ones obtained from the white grapes of Ugni Blanc, grown on the fertile limestone soils of the Charente in a mild maritime climate. There is simply no other place like this on the planet.

The second component of quality is absolutely pure natural white wines for distillation. Manufacturers are prohibited from adding sugar, sulfur dioxide, and other additives that may affect the quality of alcohols.

Thirdly, for the production of cognac, only double distillation in special distillation stills of the Charente type is allowed. Continuous distillation (as in the production of Armagnac) is prohibited. Double distillation allows for better purification of alcohols from impurities and fusel oils. The output is a completely transparent liquid with a concentrated fruity aroma and an alcohol content of 68–72%.

An indispensable stage in the manufacture of cognac is aging in oak barrels. Time and wood change color, density of the drink, affect its taste, add new aromas, but the quality does not depend on it. Bad spirits in a cask won't get better, no matter how old they are.

What to focus on when choosing cognac

Place of production

Determines the general style of cognac spirits and their aging potential. AOC Cognac distinguishes 6 zones (crus), the names of which you can find on the bottle. Each produces its own unique distillates.

  • Grand Champagne is famous for light cognac spirits with a dominant floral bouquet, which reach their maximum flowering only after long aging.
  • Pok Champagne - Like the Grand Champagne, flowers and fruits are dominated in the aroma.
  • Borderers - produces rounded alcohols with a soft aroma of violet and iris. Unlike the two previous ones, distillates from this CD ripen much faster.
  • Feng Bois - rounded plastic fast ripening alcohols with a dominant fruit bouquet.
  • Bon Boua - due to the proximity of the ocean in distillates, along with flavors of fresh grapes, marine notes appear.
  • Boua Ordiner is similar to Alcohol Bon Bois, but also with a great effect of the ocean, which gives them the taste of "terror".

Typically, manufacturers are mixed with brandy alcohols of different regions, but you can find drinks from distillates only one or two Cru. For example, Cognac A. DE Fussigny Fine Champagne Creation XO, which uses alcohols from the regions of the Grand Champagne and Punta Champagne, or Camus Xo Borderiers, made only from border distilletes.

Region of Cognac

Grand Champagne Vineyards in the Heart of the Cognac

You can read more about the features of each Cru in a separate article.

Excerpt

Exposure in barrels gives alcohols an amber tint, makes them softer, develops and complicates the taste-aromatic gamut.

Depending on the exposure, three main types of brandy are distinguished:

  • VS (at least 2 years) - prevailing floral and fruit aromatics;
  • VSOP (from 4 years old) - brighter the tones of dried fruits, oriental spices, nut and wood notes are manifested;
  • XO (previously from 6 years old, from 2018 - from 10) - the bouquet becomes more difficult and greater, smoky and mushroom smells appear in it, walnut oil, prunes, notes of sandalwood, tobacco and Ransko - aroma of noble old.

To indicate age, another marking is used: Extra VSOP (not less than 6 years), Napoleon (between VSOP and XO), HORS D`age, Heritage (from 10 to 50 years or more), etc.

When choosing an excerpt, the general promise is so - the older cognac, the more difficult and more interesting is his taste and aroma. But to understand and appreciate it, you need to be ready for the perception of such complex drinks.

Manufacturer

There are about 350 manufacturers creating cognacs under their own brand in the region. The largest cognac houses controlling more than 80% of the market, four:

Among other famous manufacturers of brand Camus (Camus), Gautier (Gautier), Delamain, Fussigny, Prunier, Hardy, Dobbe (Dobbe), etc. However, any drink on the label of which There is a Cognac inscription, will be high quality.

Collection of cognacs

Collection of french cognacs

Is it worth navigating the price?

The price is a certain indicator of the level of brandy, but it depends more not from quality, but its age and exclusivity. The most expensive - old collectible drinks with alcohols weathered in a barrel of 40 years and more. Cognacs are appreciated, issued by small batches, anniversary, with some historical chicken.

It may well be so that a cheaper young brandy you will enjoy more than it is sustained.

Other signs of good brandy

When the drink is already in a glass, its quality can be checked on texture and aroma.

The older cognac, the more denser and oily. It is easy to check the droplet flow speed (running "legs") on the inner surface of the glass - it can be from a few seconds to minute and more.

Genuine brandy is also easy to distinguish with aroma. It is not just a pleasant, but very complicated, harmonious and constantly developing. It is revealed from contact with air, and with each nose you will capture new and new notes.

Cognac in a glass

Cognac acquires an amber color from wood, but often before bottling it is tinted with caramel, which is not prohibited

What we recommend to try

For a person who has never tasted genuine cognac, it is better to start acquaintance with simple blends of famous brands such as Camus VS, Hennessy VSOP, Martell Single Barrell VC.

Our recommendation is A. de Fussigny Superieur Cognac Fine Champagne, made exclusively from the prestigious Grand and Petit Champagne spirits. Elegant, full-bodied, with a soft silky taste and floral aroma, it will help you understand and love the graceful French style of the drink.

We suggest you continue your acquaintance with Prunier XO cognac. The blend, the average age of alcohols of which is more than 45 years, will appeal to lovers of aged oily drinks with nutty, vanilla, chocolate tones and notes of dried fruits. This is a great digestif, especially for cigar aficionados.

Those who have already discovered the world of cognac will be interested in small cognac houses and their unique craft products. An example of such a drink is DOBBE Cognac VSOP. Soft, delicate, with intense violet aromas and delicate harmonious aftertaste, it will become a real delight for a gourmet.

Is good "cognac" produced in the CIS countries?

It just so happened that "cognac" in our country is called all spirits based on grape distillate, made in the territory of the former USSR. Among them there are many products worthy of attention and respect.

First of all, these are the Armenian brandies "Ararat", "Nairi", "Dvin", "Vaspurkan", made at the Yerevan Brandy Factory. Since 1998, he has been part of the international Pernod Ricard group, as a result of which many of his blends have become more elegant and sophisticated. Fans of the French style will like the Ararat brand more. The resinous-spicy Armenian style is supported by the Noy brand.

Among the Georgian cognacs, drinks produced by Shumi and Askaneli are conscientiously made. They will appeal to connoisseurs of spicy rich blends with a multifaceted aroma and hints of vanilla and chocolate on the palate.

Among Russian manufacturers the brands Kizlyar, Dagestan, Derbent (Republic of Dagestan) are in demand. Quite worthy cognacs are produced in the Stavropol and Krasnodar Territories, in the Crimea.

Since this category of "cognac" is presented in a lower price segment, it is more often counterfeited. Therefore, we recommend buying them from trusted locations. Consume spirits responsibly, find among them those that will bring you true pleasure.

If you pay a lot of money for alcohol, then it must be of high quality. But for our stores and supermarkets, this rule does not seem to be necessary.

Therefore, knowledge of how to choose cognac and not fall for a fake will not be superfluous. In addition, it is important to choose the right aristocratic drink for yourself, a feast, a digestif, for women.

The most delicious and high quality cognac. How to choose for a feast, a digestif, as a gift, for women?

Choice in store

More often they go to the supermarket, making a mistake. Be especially careful here. But at least you can carefully examine the bottle in order to avoid a "misunderstanding" in the form of a fake.

But at random "points" it is easy to run into a fake. And it's good if only the discrepancy between taste and expectations grieves you. And how many cases of poisoning with methyl alcohol, from which the counterfeit is made - you can't count. Therefore, take into account the rules for choosing brandy in the store.

Origin

We will not open America by emphasizing that cognac is exclusively a product of French origin, produced in the province of Charente. All other "cognacs" are called brandy.

Why is cognac better than brandy? In France, the control over the technological process and the quality of ingredients is carried out so strictly that manufacturers do not even think to violate something - they are more expensive.

Among the brandies of the post-Soviet space with their relatively democratic prices, one can find both a good product and frank fakes of a noble drink produced at the "cognac" factory.

Unscrupulous producers mix cognac alcohol with grain, do not stand in barrels, but insist on oak sawdust, add flavors and dyes, and resort to other tricks. But because production control is not so strict.

Price and place of purchase

Rule number 1 - buy cognac only in a specialized store of elite alcohol or in a trusted online store with a good reputation. As for brandy from the countries of the former USSR, it is better to buy in brand stores, and there are plenty of them.

Advice. If you want to buy a bottle of Armenian or other brandy, go to the Internet and ask about the brand store in your city.

He will surely be found.

As for the price, you can come across the statement that Armenian cognac can cost 120, and French - 300 rubles. These are 50 ml mini bottles. The price of a standard 0.5 liter bottle starts at 450 and 700 rubles, respectively. The price for Moldovan and Ukrainian starts from 200 rubles. It's minimum. Anything cheaper is a fake.

Decent quality brandies of post-Soviet production cost from 1000 rubles, there are also copies of 6-7 thousand.

The most delicious and high quality cognac. How to choose for a feast, a digestif, as a gift, for women?

Excerpt

It is advisable not to buy a drink that is less than 5 years old. Having won a little in price, you will lose a lot in the bouquet. After all, organoleptic properties (a combination of aroma, taste and aftertaste) are acquired precisely by aging in oak barrels.

Feature. Bottled cognac does not age, retaining the same qualities over the years if stored properly.

The markers adopted for cognacs produced in the CIS, allowing to determine the age at a glance at the label, are asterisks , indicating the age of the youngest cognac spirit in the blend:

  • 3 - two-year-old brandy;
  • 4 - four years old;
  • 5 years of age or older.
Attention. Asterisks represent only ordinary cognacs.

Vintage and collector's items have letter designations:

  • KV - junior alcohol has a 6-year aging.
  • KVVK - 8 years old.
  • KS - at least 10 years.
  • OS - over 20 years.

This marking is typical for French cognacs. By the way, it was picked up by some manufacturers close to us:

  • VS - at least 2 years old.
  • Superior - 3 years.
  • VSOP - 4 years.
  • VVSOP - 5 years old.
  • XO - 6 or more years of aging.

In our stores you will find all the listed markings.

Appearance

Real brandy cannot have a sloppy appearance. Even a crookedly glued excise stamp should alert you. And if the label is crooked, it is definitely a fake.

Advice. All the necessary information about the product you are going to buy can be obtained by reading the digital code using a mobile gadget.

The more complex the shape of the bottle and the label, the more you believe that this is a natural product.

And read the label, paying attention to the composition. There should not be any E-designations in it.

Take the bottle in your hands and test it by turning it upside down:

  • The indicator of "naturalness" is one big drop that has fallen from the bottom.
  • Alcoholic "legs" are formed on the walls of the bottle, which gradually disappear.
  • In appearance, the liquid is slightly oily. If it looks like colored water, put the bottle down and don't buy.
  • If the bottle is filled almost to the neck, then it is problematic to trace the bottom drop and "legs". If so, watch for bubbles that rise when you roll over. At first, there are large ones, and only then they become smaller.
The most delicious and high quality cognac. How to choose for a feast, a digestif, as a gift, for women?

Correct stopper

All modern brandy corks, regardless of the manufacturer, are T-shaped. The upper part is made of plastic, glass, ceramics. The lower one, entering the neck, is made of cork oak bark (always for branded drinks), pressed wood or plastic.

The latter option is not prohibited, but is usually found in low quality drinks.

Scent

This pointer can only be checked at home. If you accidentally bought a surrogate, then already upon opening the bottle you will feel a distinct alcoholic "amber", which cannot be found in a natural product.

But the bouquet opens better in a cognac glass. Pour ¼ of the glass and roll along the sides. The knowledgeable drinker picks up three waves of scent. But to determine the authenticity, it is enough to smell.

From the freshly poured cognac, the smell of an oak barrel emanates, which transforms into a whole range of aromas, in which notes of fruits, spices, chocolate and other sensations are read, which our sense of smell is capable of. Each brand has its own scent.

Usually, the longer the exposure, the more difficult it is, but invariably pleasant. An inexpressive smell, which does not open up and is prone to weathering, indicates a surrogate.

Cognac for a feast

The feast means a party with appetizers and main dishes, not always suitable for cognac, but this is how we do it. At such events, 60% is considered the norm - vodka and 40% cognac.

When you have fifty guests, you need at least 15-20 bottles of cognac. This means that we cannot talk about an expensive drink. The best choice is a quality brandy from the former CIS countries.

Brandies are popular at 200-300 rubles per 0.5 liter bottle:

  • Armenian "Ararat", "Noah's Ark", "Pearl of Armenia";
  • Georgian "Aragvi", "Granshampan";
  • Moldavian "Bouquet of Moldavia", "Bardary";
  • Ukrainian "Tavria", "Borisfen", "Shustov";
  • Crimean "Ai-Petri", "Koktebel", "Massandra".

You can also buy French single cognac. For example, "Black Stork", a bottle of which will cost you less than 1000 rubles. And "Kvint 5 Years Old" or Symbole National - less than 700 rubles per 0.5 liter.

The most delicious and high quality cognac. How to choose for a feast, a digestif, as a gift, for women?

Cognac as a digestif

Digestive is the final phase of lunch or dinner. The ceremony of drinking cognac in this case begins with a cup of coffee. Then the cognac is slowly and thoughtfully drunk. It all ends with a cigar. For non-smokers, suggest dark chocolate.

Usually a soft and deep brandy labeled XO (Extra Old) is chosen for the digestif. Ideal - vintage or collectible French cognacs. From those produced in the post-Soviet space - collection "Tavria", "Tsar Tigran", "Noy Classic" costing from 3000 rubles; "Charents" for 8000 rubles.

Which is the best gift?

If you are choosing cognac for a gift to a person whose taste is well known to you, choose the brand that he prefers. In addition to receiving what he likes for a present, you will also emphasize your respect, not forgetting about his preferences.

Important. Cognac for a present is bought in gift wrapping - it is safer, more solid, emphasizes the status of a person.

Packaging can be cardboard. But the best brands are packed in leather cases. Sets are also good - with glasses, cigars, etc.

Without knowing your preferences, choose only collection and branded drinks, remembering that cognac is always an appropriate gift.

We advise you to read: What do you eat cognac with?

The attitude of women to cognac

Assuming that only men prefer cognac, you are greatly mistaken. There are also many connoisseurs and connoisseurs of the drink among women. It is not in vain that the creators of this "divine nectar" compare their invention with a young girl spinning the heads of the stronger sex.

Longevity

Brandy not only intoxicates, relieves depression, allowing you to look at life's problems from the angle of slight indifference, but also maintains health, cleansing blood vessels and thereby prolongs life, relieves senile ailments.

According to scientists, thanks to microparticles that turn into a drink from grape alcohol and an oak barrel in which it is aged. The secret of her own longevity in her right mind, the Norwegian Gunda Harangen (who lived for almost 110 years) called a daily glass of cognac, as well as the ability not to worry about trifles and enjoy the little things.

Stamps with a female name

Today, many French cognac houses direct their efforts to "female" cognac. You can appreciate their efforts by trying drinks with a female name:

  • Camus josephine (Camus Josephine). Soft delicate taste, incomparable delicate aroma and an original bottle with a label in the form of the picture "Evening reverie" by A. Mukha. Class ОХ, exposure - from 15 years.
  • Sabina - this drink, despite the 40 °, is easy to drink, full of floral and fruity nuances.
  • Fleur de Lis (translated as lily). The drink is filled with a delicate flavor. The bottle has an elegant silhouette. For girls - and a cork that is easy to open.

Which one is better to choose for a woman?

In addition to the aforementioned three cognacs bearing female names, ladies can be recommended other "soft" types of drink. But let's not forget: cognac is at least 40 °, so you should be careful with it, because it is easy to “go over”.

But it is worth choosing a brand with a balanced, not harsh taste.

Pay attention to French drinks with an elegant flair:

  • Henessy VSOP class.
  • Courvoisier with ginger-vanilla flavor.
  • Caspian Sea is a relatively new French cognac with aroma and taste of chocolate, sweets, fruits.

Grape brandies from the Transcarpathian "Tisa", "Zakarpatskiy", Odessa "Shustov", "White Aist" from Moldova will act as "female" drinks created in the CIS.

The most delicious and high quality cognac. How to choose for a feast, a digestif, as a gift, for women?

Maurice Hennessy, the head of the cognac house of the same name, considers it wrong to divide cognacs by gender, considering the drinker's taste preferences to be the main thing in the choice.

Therefore, choose for yourself, focusing on what you like best. Take good cognac and brandy as a gift.

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For a beginner, buying cognac is a real meal of choice. Not only is it easier than ever to run into a fake, it is also almost impossible to predict whether alcohol will delight you with its bouquet. But all the nuances are pretty easy to understand if you learn a few important rules. We will tell you how to choose a cognac that will definitely suit your taste or will please the hero of the day if you buy a drink as a gift. Especially for beginners, let's put everything on the shelves.

Photo: pixabay.com
Photo: pixabay.com

How to choose brandy in a store: 5 main rules for a buyer

In supermarkets and wine boutiques, there is a huge selection of cognacs - different brands, varieties and aging. But no matter what "alcoholic bouquets" you prefer, when choosing a drink, pay attention to the following points:

Price and place of purchase

To produce 1 liter of cognac or grape brandy, you need about 10 liters of young wine and at least 3 years of time. Agree that such alcohol cannot be cheap. Therefore, it is better to choose a drink with a "normal" price tag. This significantly increases the chances of enjoying excellent cognac. But avoid beautiful bottles with suspiciously low cost - it will be safer.

Do not buy cognac from questionable alcohol distribution points. There is a risk that counterfeits are being traded here.

Alcohol brand

World famous brands produce high-quality alcohol. It is useless to argue with this. Therefore, it is better to choose cognac of a well-known brand, and not a “no name” drink, which will be scary even to smell.

Authentication

Unfortunately, it is the expensive branded cognac that is most often counterfeited. You give a lot of money in the hope of getting quality and unsurpassed taste, but in fact you get alcohol, diluted with flavors and dyes.

How to choose a quality cognac and not buy a fake? It doesn't hurt to know the main distinctive features of a particular brand - in what container it pours drinks, how it labels the bottles. Be sure to appreciate whether the labels are evenly glued and whether the cork is well closed.

Age of cognac

The aging period of a noble cognac largely determines its taste. The aroma of the drink acquires many tones and halftones, the pungent smell of alcohol disappears. Connoisseurs assure that it is better to give preference to cognacs with at least 6-year aging.

Testimonials

Those who periodically indulge themselves with quality drinks know how to choose a good cognac. Many brands of alcohol have already been "tasted", favorite varieties and bouquets have been identified. But it's more difficult for a beginner. If you are in doubt whether you will like alcohol, trust the reviews of "experienced". This is not a 100% guarantee that the cognac will definitely be to your taste. But at least some hope.

You can also check a number of mobile applications that collect huge databases of alcoholic beverages with reviews from ordinary consumers and sommeliers.

What brandy to choose as a gift

Cognac is considered a universal present for friends, bosses, business partners and VIP clients. In order not to puzzle over the "gift dilemma", the easiest way is to buy a bottle of high-quality alcohol.

Photo: pixabay.com
Photo: pixabay.com

There is a stereotype that cognac is given exclusively to men. But strong alcohol can also be presented to a woman who has emerged from a young age. Cognac in an elegant bottle, complemented by chocolate and flowers, is a wonderful gift.

So, which cognac to choose as a gift? Take note of some tips:

  • If possible, inquire about the donee's alcohol preferences. This will greatly simplify the task - you will know exactly which brand to choose.
  • A jubilee or celebration of "special significance" will certainly require more significant spending on a gift. Expensive luxury cognac is often sold in beautiful wooden or wicker boxes, cases or stylized canvas bags. A great gift - you don't have to think about packaging.
  • A good solution is a gift set of several bottles of cognac of the same brand, but different varieties. Such limited collections are produced by many brands.
  • Cognac as a presentation will perfectly complement the accompanying "accessories" - for example, cigars, a set of glasses or chocolate.
  • The price of the chosen drink should correspond to the wealth of not only the donor, but also the gifted one. Too cheap or, conversely, expensive alcohol runs the risk of embarrassment on both sides.

How to choose a French cognac

Only a drink produced in France can be called "real" cognac. Famous brands keep their traditions, working according to old recipes and technologies. So what, then, is everything else a fake? Not. The drinks produced in other countries are categorized as "grape brandy". In principle, they cannot be called cognac.

French cognacs are the standard of quality. Their production is strictly controlled by the state. Brands will not risk their reputations by releasing a dubious product on the market. Whichever French brand you choose to drink, you can be sure that alcohol will deliver a real gastronomic pleasure. The recognized leaders are the following brands of cognac: Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, Camus.

Photo: flickr.com
Photo: flickr.com

French cognac, because it is expensive, is very often counterfeited. Before buying, be sure to hold a real branded drink in your hands! Don't waste your money.

Many French cognacs reach store shelves only after 6 years of "imprisonment" in an oak barrel. In general, in the United States and Europe, spirits are considered worthy of consumption at this particular aging period. But Russians are more in demand for young French cognacs, since they are cheaper.

How to choose the right cognac depending on the aging? Look at the label of the drink, find the "incomprehensible" abbreviation. It is she who denotes the aging period of cognac:

  • V.S. (Very Special) - at least 2 years;
  • S. (Special) or V.O. (Very Old) - 3 years;
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) - 4 years;
  • V.V.S.O.P. (Very Very Superior Old Pale) - 5 years old;
  • X.O. (Extra Old) - over 6 years old.

How to choose Armenian brandy

Of course, gourmets will say that Armenian cognac is brandy. Nevertheless, drinks are in great demand among Russians. In terms of the exclusivity of the bouquet, they only vaguely resemble French spirits, but in this segment you can also find cognac of good quality. Popular brands: Ararat, Arame, Armenika, Mane, Noy Araspel, Hayasi.

Basically, ordinary cognacs are produced in Armenia. These drinks are aged for the prescribed 2-5 years, but they can be made from different grape varieties, not only from those that are traditionally used for the production of strong alcohol. It is just ordinary cognacs that are marked with stars - from 3 to 5.

Photo: pixabay.com
Photo: pixabay.com

However, some brands are aiming at the production of branded alcohol. In accordance with the aging period, it is marked as follows:

  • KV (Aged Cognac) - at least 6 years;
  • KVVK (Aged Cognac of the Highest Quality) - 8 years or more;
  • KS (Old Cognac) - at least 10 years;
  • OS (Very Old) - 12 years or more.

When choosing an Armenian brandy, pay attention to the aging period - the more, the better. And be sure to check if you are holding the original bottle of alcohol in your hands.

How to choose an inexpensive cognac

Cognac, which is not scary to drink, will not cost less than 600-800 rubles. With this money, it is better to buy "tasty" wine and enjoy its fragrant bouquet.

In the middle price category, you can find good brandies from Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Russia. Rather, it will be a grape brandy, since French alcohol is much more expensive - at least 1000 rubles.

Gourmets are sure that it is better to buy a smaller volume of worthy alcohol from a well-known brand than a large bottle for the same money, but a drink produced not in Europe.

It is interesting to read:

Today we'll talk about how to choose a cognac. A wide range of alcoholic beverages leads inexperienced consumers to the idea that it is easy to get lost in this "forest", and dangerous predators - forgeries - roam the paths of this "forest". Don't worry about the latter. Given the close attention of the legislator to the alcoholic beverages market, it is very difficult for counterfeit products, and often simply unprofitable, to break through to the official points of sale. But there is another cause for concern - how to choose brandy in terms of price and quality.

What, apart from stars and a price tag, should an inexperienced buyer be guided by? What helpful signals can you find on the label? How to identify unsatisfactory quality by the aroma and appearance of the drink? Let's figure it out.

If the cognac is oily, thick, viscous - good, if liquid and watery - bad
If the cognac is oily, thick, viscous - good, if liquid and watery - bad

There are several versions of the origin of this drink. There are legends on the Internet that only a drink produced in the French town of Cognac can be called cognac. All other cognac drinks are more correctly called grape brandy. This is not entirely true. According to the decision of the WTO, up to 2021, GOST "Russian cognac" and "Russian champagne" will be perfectly legal in Russia. Such bureaucracy is associated with the peculiarities of the legal protection of the name of the product.

Let's start with a romantic theory of origin, which will go well with friends over a glass of fragrant brandy. At the end of the 16th century, a Chevalier named Jacques de la Croix Maron lived in the provincial town of Cognac (fr. Cognac). The said monsieur was a devoted Protestant, a valiant man and a good winemaker. He was engaged in winemaking in between battles in which he took part.

The history of brandy goes back to the technology of aging in a barrel
The history of brandy goes back to the technology of aging in a barrel

Once returning from the battlefield, he found his wife with another and, in a fit of feelings, killed both. Grief gave rise to confusion in the mind and heart, revealing in dreams the devil, who threatened the murderer with a cauldron and eternal torment. The nightmare led Jacques de la Croix to overtake his young wine several times, resulting in a clear drink, which he poured into a high-quality oak barrel and donated to the nearest monastery. The offering was accepted by the worshipers and the sin was forgiven. The monks forgot about the gift of Chevalier Maron for several years, and when they remembered and opened the barrel, they discovered a fragrant cognac.

Now a historical prose writer. At the end of the 16th century, France got involved in the Spanish Succession Wars. Winemakers, who previously traded actively with England and other countries, were forced to turn perishable wines into grape alcohol, which they corked in oak barrels. This crisis opened up a completely new drink to the world, which retained and even increased its taste during the long aging process. The principles of making grape brandy have not changed much since then.

Purchase Brandy solely in specialized stores. It is difficult to penetrate into alcohols to penetrate fakes, this is due to the EGAIS system, the system of automated control that allows for responsible services to track any movement of alcohol from the manufacturer through the realizer to the consumer up to the bottle. All the necessary information about the manufacturer and part of alcohol can be found by considering the digital container code using a mobile gadget. Homemade brandy is not recommended for drinking.

Complex form of containers and a unique label - not only a marketing move, but also protection against fake
Complex form of containers and a unique label - not only a marketing move, but also protection against fake

The person is often assessed by dress, and with grape brandy the same thing. Only in our case the buyer does not need to be kept on a beautiful and expensive, in his opinion, a bottle and packaging. Many brands that have proven themselves in the market produce their products in fairly ascetic packaging. But the complex architecture of the bottle, the abundance of geometric shapes and engraving is not only a distinctive feature of the manufacturer, but also additional protection against fake. At first glance, you also need to pay attention to the label. It should be glued smoothly and neat. The paper for the label must be a bit corrugated. To the touch and appearance, it can resemble the material used to print cash bills. A flat and high-quality label, as well as a unique container - a good quality reference, they are almost impossible to copy 100%, without having similar to the manufacturer of factory conditions.

On the bottle there should also be an excise stamp and a special barcode, considering that with the help of a mobile gadget, any person can learn all the information about the origin of the drink. The label itself can and need to read, on it producers place data on the origin and excerpt of the brandy, the date of bottling, as well as the exact composition of the product (blend) with the indication of all ingredients and alcohols. In a good drink there should be no additional flavoring components indicated by the manufacturers of the "E" manufacturers.

Good cognac, including domestic, should be tightly clogged. Feel free to check how tightly the cork closes the neck. For the blockage of expensive brandy, only covers from cork oak cortex are traditionally used. For beverages lower shutter speeds, the use of agglomerated or synthetic plugs is permissible.

Agglometered plug

All modern manufacturers for their bottles use combined T-shaped tubes. The lower part in the neck, the cork bark, pressed wood or synthetics. The upper part can be made of plastic, ceramics, glass or other materials. This type of traffic jam allows consumers to easily open the bottle and close it tightly again. If the bottle is not tight, and the plug goes in the neck and turns without effort - it means that you are low-quality alcohol or fake.

Cognac exposure is indicated directly on the label. The age of the drink is determined by the years of the youngest alcohol, which is part of a blend brandy. This is an absolute rule for all cognacs, regardless of the manufacturer's country.

Stars on the label mean exposure
Stars on the label mean exposure

As notation for the age of alcohols for drinks produced in Armenia, Georgia and Russia, stars are adopted:

  • 3 stars - cognac spirits with an average age of at least 2 years.
  • 4 stars - cognac spirits with an average age of at least 4 years.
  • 5 stars - cognac spirits with an average age of at least 5 years.

Let's take a closer look at the designations adopted for branded drinks, as well as cognacs produced in France, and brandy produced using French technologies "here". In Armenia, Georgia, Russia and other post-Soviet countries, brandy is divided into:

  • ordinary (marked with stars);
  • collectible;
  • vintage.

Collection drinks include alcohols aged 23 and over.

Alternative to the stars - Cyrillic markers KV, KVVK, KS, OS
Alternative to the stars - Cyrillic markers KV, KVVK, KS, OS

On branded brands, buyers may find the following markers:

  • KV - from 6 years of exposure;
  • KVVK - from 8 years of aging;
  • KS - from 10 years of exposure;
  • OS - from 20 years of exposure.

France is the undisputed trendsetter in the field of cognac craft; it was the French Maitre de chai that introduced the international brandy classification, which is also used by domestic producers. For cognacs over 6 years old, European masters have not created a special designation, since the aging of such drinks cannot be determined during traditional tasting.

According to international tradition, brandy aging is displayed in Latin letters on the label
According to international tradition, brandy aging is displayed in Latin letters on the label

According to French standards, brandies can be classified into:

  • VS - from 2 years of exposure;
  • Superior - 3 year olds;
  • VSOP - 4 year olds;
  • VVSOP - 5 year olds;
  • XO - from 6 years old.

In Russian alcohol stores, you can find brandies with all of the above markings.

Any customer right in the store can do the following experiment: take a brandy bottle and turn it upside down. After such manipulation, one large drop should break off from the bottom to the neck, while small “streams” may form on the walls of the container - a sign of good quality. If the bottle is almost filled to the top, the same experiment can be carried out, but the quality indicator in this case will be bubbles. After turning over, large bubbles should rush to the neck, followed by smaller ones. This is how the consistency of the brandy, its thickness and oiliness are checked. Low-quality alcohol or fake is not viscous, very liquid, like tinted water.

Cognac should have a complex aroma, including tones of barrel aging
Cognac should have a complex aroma, including tones of barrel aging

Aroma is an important quality indicator that you can check at home. A quality brandy is revealed gradually. After the drink rolls along the walls of the glass, slightly perceptible notes of an oak barrel should appear in the aroma, turning into a whole range of additional smells (fruits, tobacco, vanilla, chocolate, coffee, and others). Their number will depend on the degree of aging, as well as on the characteristics of the barrel, in which the "hardening" of the drink took place. The surrogate will not give a pronounced aroma, only the "echo" of the aroma, which is never revealed, does not develop in the glass and quickly disappears.

To know how to choose a brandy of decent quality, you need to work out for yourself several rules of a wise buyer. The first is to buy brandy only in specialized stores. Second, when buying, pay attention not only to the label and excise stamp, but also to the cork. Third, remember to turn the bottle over to check for bubbles or drops. Fourth, remember that the romantic story of a brandy goes well in a pleasant company.

how to choose the right brandy

A wide range of cognacs in our stores confuses the unprepared buyer. Due to the external similarity of the bottles, it is difficult to navigate and choose the right drink, especially since there are a lot of counterfeits on the market. Further I will tell you what parameters you need to pay attention to when evaluating a particular bottle.

1. Origin

Only drinks produced in France can be called cognac. All the rest (Armenian, Georgian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Russian) are grape brandies. The quality of real French cognacs is beyond doubt, their production is strictly controlled by the state, and the history of the best brands is several hundred years old, they will not risk their reputation. The recognized leaders are: Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Courvoisier, Martell, Bisquit, Camus, Augier and Delamain.

The quality of grape brandy in other countries (especially in the post-Soviet space) is not so closely monitored. Products are of different quality, many of these drinks are made using technology that only vaguely resembles cognac. For example, instead of aging in oak barrels, infusion on soaked oak sawdust is practiced; some distilleries dilute expensive grape alcohol with cheaper grain.

2. Price and place of purchase

It takes about 10 liters of young wine and several years of time to produce 1 liter of grape brandy, so a good cognac cannot be cheap. This applies not only to French, but also to any other "cognac". If in one price segment (determined by the country of production and duration of aging) there is a brand whose cost is 30-40% lower than the market average, buying it is risky.

But the high price does not always guarantee excellent quality. Thanks to modern technology, even bottles with good protection can be counterfeited. The color, consistency and smell of fake cognac are also not a problem for most scammers. These indicators are chemically mimicked by adding dyes and special aromatic additives to cheap alcohol. The only way to minimize the risk is to buy cognac in specialized alcohol shops and large supermarkets, where quality certificates are shown at the client's request.

fake Henesy
Leaders are faked more often than others

3. Exposure

The underlying factor in pricing. To balance the taste and aroma, most French cognacs are produced by blending (mixing) alcohols of varying degrees of aging. The age of cognac is determined by aging in oak barrels of the youngest spirit included in the blend. After bottling, age is no longer counted.

According to the French classification, which is necessarily indicated on the front of the label, cognacs are:

  • V.S. (Very Special) - at least 2 years old;
  • Superior - 3 years;
  • V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) - 4 years old;
  • V.V.S.O.P. (Very Very Superior Old Pale) - 5 years old;
  • X.O. (Extra Old) - 6 years old and older.

Interestingly, French legislation does not provide for separate labeling for cognacs over 6 years old. It is believed that the aging of very old drinks cannot be verified by tasting.

"Cognacs" of the post-Soviet space are divided into three types: ordinary (ordinary), vintage and collection. Armenian and other ordinary cognacs are marked with asterisks. Each star on the label indicates a year of barrel aging. The most common options are 3 and 5 years old.

The following inscriptions are found on vintage drinks:

  • KV (Aged Cognac) - at least 6 years;
  • KVVK (Aged Cognac of the Highest Quality) - 8 years and more;
  • KS (Old Cognac) - at least 10 years;
  • OS (Very Old) - 12 years or more.

The aging of collection cognacs begins at the age of 23.

Usually, the older the cognac, the more expensive it is. But this does not mean that aged drinks have amazing organoleptic properties, while young counterparts are much worse. It also happens vice versa. For example, many ten-year-old cognacs have a wonderful aroma, but a very mediocre taste. If you are not a connoisseur looking for unique notes, there is no point in overpaying for exposure. Better to buy a good 3-5 year old cognac.

Everything is simple with French brands - their quality is guaranteed. In the case of other brands sold in Russia, in order to select the best drink, one has to evaluate the products of several horse-drawn houses.

4. Appearance and organoleptic properties

Real cognac is sold only in glass bottles and never in plastic, because plastic, in combination with strong alcohol, causes a chemical reaction that results in the release of harmful substances. The bottle itself should have a properly glued label without traces of glue and a cork made of wood, silicone or pressed sawdust, and not just a metal shell. Real cognac is always transparent, without turbidity, impurities or sediment.

what is the color of cognac
Cognac color of different aging

To indirectly check the consistency before purchasing, the bottle is turned upside down. If one large drop falls from the bottom or oily traces appear on the glass, it is highly likely that it is of high quality. Even after turning over, large bubbles should first rise and only then small ones.

photo of oily brandy
Real cognac buttery

Real cognac has a pleasant aroma that changes slightly when heated. There should be no pronounced odors of alcohol, kerosene or acetone, which indicate that alcohol-containing liquids of unknown origin were added to the drink.

Alcoholic products are widely represented on the shelves of many stores, ranging from ordinary round-the-clock stalls to large chain hypermarkets; there are also specialized establishments where rather expensive products are presented. The assortment of cognacs can put an unprepared buyer in serious difficulty, especially since there are a lot of counterfeit products on sale. Of course, no one will allow you to taste the drink when buying, so we tried to collect in our article the most proven recommendations related to the purchase of cognac, so that it would be pleasant to drink and not ashamed to give it. We will start with the rules for choosing this alcohol, and continue with an overview of the highest quality brands. Let's get started!

What do they pay attention to when buying cognac?

First of all, keep in mind that the production of 1 liter of cognac requires about 10 liters of young wine and several years of time, so a priori the cost of high-quality cognac cannot be too low. If you see a drink on sale, the price of which is about 40% lower compared to the average, then you should immediately refuse to buy such a cognac.

krobly

how to choose cognac?

Another important factor is cognac aging. Its age is taken into account as a result of aging the drink in oak barrels. If the cognac is produced by blending (that is, mixing) several types of alcohols that have been aged for different times, then this factor is not shown on the bottle. Accordingly, cognac made on the basis of a blend is considered not very high quality among connoisseurs of such alcohol. In ordinary stores, you can find cognac, the aging period of which ranges from 3 to 7 years. In specialized establishments, you can find more matured products - up to 10 years and even more. However, these drinks are more suitable for connoisseurs and collectors. An ordinary consumer will be quite happy with cognac aged for about 5 years.

When choosing, you should carefully examine the bottle, evaluate the quality of the closure. The cork should be made of wood or pressed sawdust. The container is necessarily transparent, the sticker is glued evenly, without traces of glue. The cognac should be enlightened into the light - it should be uniformly transparent, without turbidity, various foreign inclusions, sediment. You can try turning the bottle upside down to assess the consistency of the drink: if characteristic oily streaks appear on the walls, this indicates an acceptable quality of the drink.

After opening the bottle, the cognac can be sniffed, poured into a glass and slightly heated: the original drink will slightly change its smell, no alcohol, acetone or kerosene inclusions will appear. In our review, there are only original cognacs, not only according to user reviews, but also according to the opinion of professional tasters. When compiling the rating, we did not ignore the ratio of price and quality - you will not find too expensive varieties here.

The best cognacs of the year

10. Brandy "White Stork" 5 years old

White stork (Moldova) photo

One of the most famous varieties of cognac, which began to be produced in the days of the Soviet Union, is still being produced today. This is a fairly popular brand among inexpensive cognacs. The drink has a beautiful golden amber color. The fortress is standard - 40 degrees. The taste has floral notes, vanilla. The production technology is classic - wine distillates are aged in oak barrels for three to seven years, after which sugar and caramel are added to them. This allows the taste to be softened to a great extent. After that, the drink is again placed in oak barrels and aged for a year, which gives the taste additional brightness.

The shelf life of cognac is unlimited, if you store it correctly - in a room with a temperature of 5 to 25 degrees, humidity should not exceed 40%. During the analysis, no harmful substances were found in the composition of the drink, the nutritional value is 239 kilocalories.

Benefits:

  • Acceptable price;
  • Due to the low price, the number of fakes on the market is minimal;
  • Pleasant taste;
  • Alcohol during consumption is weak;
  • Has many awards at prestigious alcoholic beverage competitions.

Disadvantages:

  • Quite mediocre packaging.

Cognac "White Stork" 5 years old

9. Klinkov VSOP

Klinkov VSOP photo

Despite the low price, this drink belongs to the premium class, is made in Crimea, its minimum aging is 3 years. It is produced on the basis of grape varieties of cognac with the addition of special French-made alcohols. Aging in oak barrels gives this variety a subtle nutty bitterness. The general impression of the drink is the following: a little sweetness, almost no alcohols are felt, depending on the vintage, nutmeg mixed with orange peel or honey can be felt, sometimes even small tobacco aromas are felt.

The taste is quite soft, balanced - there is nothing superfluous. It is sold in a rather interesting package: the bottle is placed in a gift tube, on the inside of which there is precise information about the history of this variety. The plug is made of a crust, pressed into a plastic cap. The label must indicate the aging period, information about the manufacturer, and the category of the drink. If the bottle is original, then it has a corporate logo - a large letter K.

Benefits:

  • Original taste, which directly depends on the vintage;
  • Refers to the premium class, despite the acceptable cost;
  • Rarely counterfeited;
  • Interesting packaging.

Disadvantages:

Cognac Klinkov VSOP

Jatone X.O. Extra photo

On the Russian market, this brand can be found in two varieties - 5 and 8 years old. The drink is made in Kherson, has a large number of different awards, is characterized by a low cost, which makes it affordable for almost everyone. The color is dark golden, in the taste you can catch faint notes of milk chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut. You can find more seasoned products that take on pear and floral aromas followed by a chocolatey flavor. This variety is preferred by the beautiful half of humanity. Unfortunately, it will not be possible to find it in popular chain stores; it is sold only through a network of specialized retail alcohol stores.

This cognac only gets better with increasing aging, continuing to prove its worth. It is made exclusively from light grape varieties, and the distillation is carried out only the next year after the production of the must.

Benefits:

  • Very interesting taste;
  • Has many awards;
  • The production technology includes various subtleties, due to which the taste acquires a number of original inclusions;
  • An original bottle that has many degrees of protection, so it is almost impossible to counterfeit such products.

Disadvantages:

  • A small sediment of oak dust may form at the bottom.

Jatone X.O. Extra

7. Tetroni 5

Tetroni 5 pics

One of the best cognacs of Georgian production, even though it is not too expensive. The production of this type of drink began only in 1994, but almost immediately it gained wide popularity. In the production of grapes used from many regions of Georgia, which has a positive effect on the taste, making them richer. The bottle is also decorated in a very original way - in black or green. The label shows a purebred white horse. One of the key advantages of cognac is a very mild taste, due to which the drink is drunk quite easily, there is practically no alcohol aftertaste. Cognac is well suited not only for men, but also for women.

The drink has a light golden color. Gourmets recommend drinking it slowly, savoring every sip. To feel the complete harmony of the aftertaste, you need to hold the cognac in your mouth for a while, roll your tongue across the sky. It is recommended to use it in its pure form, without adding it to coffee or cocktails. It will be best combined with ice cream, desserts, cream; you should not drink it with grapes. Reveals its qualities well with seafood.

Benefits:

  • An interesting bottle, difficult to fake;
  • Mild taste, easy to drink.

Disadvantages:

  • Not suitable for all dishes.

Georgian cognac Tetroni 5

6. Old Kakheti 5

Old Kakheti 5 pics

Another very popular brand of Georgian cognac, which is actively exported and supplied to 14 countries of the world, and about 40% of all manufactured products are sent to Russia. The company "Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking", which produces this variety, was opened quite recently - in 2001, but today it is one of the largest wineries in the country, which annually produces about 12 million bottles of cognac. This variety has repeatedly received the highest awards at prestigious international competitions.

Cognac spirits are aged in wooden barrels made of a special type of Iberian oak, the aging period is at least 5 years, due to which the drink acquires a rich and very balanced taste. Among the predominant aromas are the tones of dried fruits, old port, natural leather. The taste is delicate, buttery, the cognac pleasantly envelops the throat, does not burn, leaves behind a vanilla-chocolate aftertaste.

Benefits:

  • The taste is soft and pleasant;
  • Saturated color;
  • Over the years, it has acquired an increasing range of aromas.

Disadvantages:

  • It is difficult to distinguish an original bottle from a fake one.

Georgian cognac Old Kakheti 5

5. Cognac Lezginka

Lezginka photo

This is one of the first brands of Russian cognacs presented in our review of these noble drinks. Cognac is produced at the Kizlyar Brandy Factory, and the enterprise has the status of an official supplier to the Moscow Kremlin and the presidential administration. Lezginka cognac has repeatedly received high awards at domestic and international competitions. Not too long ago, the drink began to be exported to Asian countries, in particular, to Japan. It is worth noting that this brand is forged quite often, but it is not too difficult to distinguish a fake: on the top of the bottle there is an engraving in the form of an oval medallion with the numbers 1885 - the year of the launch of cognac production in Kizlyar.

The name of the brand and the portrait of Bagration are made using the latest technology of relief stamping. The label is lacquered. Information on the neck of the bottle is applied using a laser, and the bottom must have a clear brand of the manufacturer. The cognac tastes very good - it is a balanced balance of freshness and fruity tones of peach, grapes, apricot jam. The aftertaste creates a feeling of warmth, it has a chocolate flavor. This drink is very popular among consumers, although it is quite expensive.

Benefits:

  • Good taste;
  • The minimum content of substances harmful to health.

Disadvantages:

  • High price;
  • A significant number of counterfeits on the market.

Lezginka cognac

4. Ararat 5

Ararat 5 pics

Armenia has long been famous for brandy, and this variety has absorbed all the best traditions of Armenian winemakers. This variety is produced at the Yerevan Brandy Factory and is supplied to more than 40 countries around the world. About 7-8 million bottles are produced annually, of which about 5 are supplied to Russia. Cognac has a specific, but very pleasant taste due to the use in the production of only grape varieties that grow directly on the territory of Armenia, and the aging of alcohols is made in oak barrels from various types of wood. The manufacturing company positions its products as high quality and meeting the preferences of all lovers of Armenian brandy.

The variety has many international awards, in particular, even very prestigious ones - The World-Spirits Award, World Spirits Competition and others. The cognac has a pleasant smell of pear, stewed fruit, plum. The taste is slightly scalding, tart, gives off apple juice and green grapes, has sweetish tints. The finish is silky with a slight bitterness, like apricot pits. Perfect with dark chocolate or black coffee.

Benefits:

  • One of the best Armenian cognacs;
  • An original taste that cannot be confused with any other variety.

Disadvantages:

cognac Ararat 5

3. Noah Araspel

Noah Araspel photo

Even just picking up a bottle of this brandy, you understand that this product is of excellent quality. The shape of the bottle is quite interesting, it is massive both in appearance and in weight. This cognac stands out favorably against the background of other varieties due to its rich color, which becomes more and more saturated over the years, thereby emphasizing its nobility. In the production of this drink, only white grape varieties are used. It is produced in Armenia, supplied to all CIS countries, to Europe and the United States, and in rather large batches. It is recognized by connoisseurs of these drinks due to its high quality, which is confirmed by a significant number of awards at international competitions.

The price for this cognac is quite acceptable for an ordinary consumer. The whole bouquet of aromas and tastes of the variety is not revealed immediately. Poured into a glass, this cognac immediately begins to give off light notes of vanilla, the first sip gives some pungency, but then it turns into velvety with an interesting combination of chocolate and vanilla. The aftertaste is long lasting, which characterizes only high-quality drinks.

Benefits:

  • The original shape of the bottle;
  • Several degrees of protection, allowing you to quickly distinguish a fake;
  • Beautiful color, pleasant aroma and rich taste.

Disadvantages:

Noah Araspel cognac

2. King Tigran

Tsar Tigran photo

Found only in specialized alcohol stores. Its average aging is one of the longest among all the best cognacs - it is at least 10 years. Fermentation of the drink is carried out exclusively on wild yeast, which gives it a dark amber color. The aroma contains classic tones of vanilla and chocolate, floral and ginger tones can be caught. The taste is quite soft, elegant, has a long aftertaste that does not have bitterness.

If you open the bottle and immediately smell the drink, you can feel the tones of the marinade, bay leaf, lemon peel. When rubbing a few drops in the palms, it changes slightly, some creamy notes are introduced into it, and the tones of the marinade slightly weaken, but do not disappear at all. During use, an alcoholic aftertaste is not felt, however, there is some astringency. The duration of the aftertaste, especially if you drink cognac with lemon and chocolate, can be up to 15 minutes.

Benefits:

  • Long exposure;
  • Long lasting aftertaste;
  • Interesting color.

Disadvantages:

Cognac Tsar Tigran

1. Brandy Ararat "Nairi"

Ararat Nairi photo

This is the most expensive, but also the best brandy among all those included in our review. The products are Armenian, have a deep dark amber color, interesting luster and absolute transparency without the slightest hint of any sediment. The texture is harmonious, distinguished by excellent refinement. The taste is rich, has a long aftertaste, which combines toasted bread, cloves, moreover, they are balanced by the presence of honey and tones of cinnamon. A certain proportion of alcohol can be caught in the aroma, but it is well masked by fruity-woody odors, has some sweetness. You can catch a dried pear, apple. After the cognac has stood in the glass for some time, caramel notes and the smell of freshly sawn oak boards begin to appear.

It is very easy to drink such cognac, there are some fruity overflows in the taste, which can later be caught in the aftertaste. It will not be possible to catch classic vanilla, tones of chocolate and prunes, which makes the cognac even more original, therefore it is simply impossible to confuse this drink with another variety.

Benefits:

  • Interesting taste;
  • Long aftertaste and original aroma that cannot be confused with anything.

Disadvantages:

Brandy Ararat "Nairi"

In conclusion, a useful video

As you can see, even among budget brands of cognac, you can find very decent and interesting specimens that will be to the taste of real connoisseurs of this noble drink. Surely, there are still many little-known, but high-quality and tasty varieties, if you share this information with us and our other readers in the comments, or just share your impressions and thoughts on our review, then we will be very grateful to you.

Today, it is not difficult to find alcoholic beverages on store shelves - bottles with cognac are available both in ordinary supermarkets and in specialized alcohol stores. However, a wide variety of assortments can put an unprepared buyer in a dead end. Bottles with cognac are often purchased not only for a home meal, but also as a gift, so you should pay attention to several parameters: cost, aging, quality of packaging.

Which cognac is better - rating

Cognac is a strong alcoholic drink made from certain grape varieties using a special technology.
Cognac is a strong alcoholic drink made from certain grape varieties using a special technology.

The aging of the drink is an important parameter that is underestimated by many. Cognac without blend is often cheap, and a drink with blend and aging for at least 3 years has a rich, refined aroma and taste. We have compiled a rating of the 9 best brands of cognac, as well as evaluated the advantages and disadvantages of each drink.

TOP 9 best quality cognacs

No. 9. "Klinkov" VSOP

Despite the fact that this drink is sold at an affordable price, it is classified as "premium". Cognac is aged in barrels for 3 years. Place of production - Crimea. For production, cognac grape varieties are used, to which special alcohols are added according to French technologies. Due to the long aging of the liquid in oak barrels, a special nutty aroma and a slight sweetness are acquired, and the taste of alcohol is practically not felt. The taste of the drink is perfectly balanced, there are no unnecessary notes in it. Cognac can be purchased for a gift - the drink is sold in a beautiful gift tube. Cognac Klinkov is a unique drink, the blend of which is 100% handmade. During production, the drink is aged in oak barrels and distilled in a special distillation still.

Cost: 2170 rubles.

"Klinkov" VSOP
"Klinkov" VSOP

pros

  • high quality, original taste;
  • affordable cost;
  • bright, rich golden color;
  • exposure not less than 3 years;
  • stylish bottle design;
  • premium quality.

Minuses

  • not sold in all stores;
  • high price;
  • in rare cases, you can purchase a fake.

Cognac "Klinkov" VSOP

№ 8. "Lezginka"

The producer of the drink is the Kizlyar Brandy Factory. The cognac has a good taste, and the manufacturing plant has been awarded various prizes. Recently, Lezginka Cognac has been supplied to Japan and other Asian countries.

The main sign of the bottle's originality is a special engraving - a medallion with the numbers "1885". If these numbers are written incorrectly, or the medallion has a curved shape, you should not purchase a drink. Also, when buying, you need to pay attention to the embossing feature - the brand name on the bottle is applied using the relief embossing technique, and you can see the varnish on the label. Lezginka cognac has a rich taste with notes of fruits: grapes, peaches, apricots. After drinking the drink, there is a slight but noticeable aftertaste of chocolate.

Cost: 601 rubles (for a promotion).

"Lezginka"
"Lezginka"

pros

  • rich, pleasant taste;
  • insignificant content of harmful components;
  • the taste contains fruit and nutty notes;
  • the drink has a high strength, but does not taste bitter.

Minuses

  • many fakes are sold, but they can be distinguished from the original.

Lezginka cognac

No. 7. "Tetroni 5"

Country of origin: Georgia. Despite the fact that this drink began to be produced only in 1994, it quickly gained popularity among true connoisseurs of alcohol, due to its unusual, rich taste. One of the peculiarities of "Tetroni 5" cognac is that good grapes are harvested for its production from different regions of Georgia. The drink goes well with various desserts, but it is not recommended to add grapes to the table where the bottle of "Tetroni 5" will stand. Also, cognac reveals its taste well in combination with seafood. The Tetroni 5 bottle can be presented to a friend or work colleague - it is stylishly designed. Cognac is liked not only by men, but also by women, because of its mild taste and the absence of a strong smell of alcohol, which is inherent in many alcoholic beverages.

Cost: 650 rubles.

"Tetroni 5"
"Tetroni 5"

pros

  • the bottle is difficult to counterfeit;
  • stylish, unusual design;
  • suitable for both men and women;
  • bright, rich taste;
  • affordable price;
  • easy to drink, no bitterness.

Minuses

  • it is not recommended to use it with all dishes; it is necessary to carefully select the products that will be combined with the drink.

Cognac "Tetroni 5"

№ 6. "Old Kakheti 5"

Georgian cognac "Old Kakheti" is named in accordance with the place where it is produced. It is one of the most popular alcoholic beverages - it is shipped to over fourteen countries. The share of exports to Russia is at least 40%. Despite the fact that the company was opened only in the 2000s, the company grew rapidly. Today the company owns a large number of vineyards and produces more than 12 million bottles a year.

In the process of preparation, alcohols for cognac are kept in special Iberian oak barrels. Due to the five-year aging, the drink acquires not only a rich, but also a carefully balanced taste. Cognac is easy to drink, does not "burn" the throat and leaves a pleasant aftertaste.

Cost: 599 rubles.

"Old Kakheti 5"
"Old Kakheti 5"

pros

  • with long-term storage, the drink acquires a richer taste;
  • the "Old Kakheti" variety has received world prizes and awards;
  • bright amber shade;
  • soft, light taste and aroma;
  • affordable cost;
  • chocolate and vanilla aftertaste;
  • sold in many stores.

Minuses

  • some batches of cognac are produced with a deterioration in the quality of the product, some buyers note that the taste of the drink has changed over the past few years;
  • due to the lack of a code and unusual elements on the bottle, it is difficult to distinguish a fake from a real cognac.

Cognac "Old Kakheti 5"

No. 5. "Ararat 5"

One of the most popular cognacs in Armenia is "Ararat", five years old. Armenia is a country where the best brandy is traditionally produced. The "Ararat 5" variety is produced at a plant in Yerevan. The volume of production per year is about 8,000,000 bottles, most of which are brought to Russia.

The peculiarity of the drink, which is popular with connoisseurs of high-quality alcohol, is its pleasant and very rich taste. The alcohols used in the preparation of the drink are aged for a long time in wood barrels, and the grapes for brandy are harvested not in one place, but throughout the territory of Armenia. Brandy "Ararat 5" has received world awards, including World Spirits Competition. The drink goes well with dark chocolate or coffee.

Cost: 850 rubles.

"Ararat 5"
"Ararat 5"

pros

  • notes of plum, dried fruit and pear;
  • original, memorable taste;
  • light, almost imperceptible bitterness;
  • the best grade among Armenian cognacs.

Brandy "Ararat 5"

No. 4. "Noah Araspel"

It is enough just to pick up the original bottle of Noy Araspel cognac to understand that this is a truly high-quality product. On sale you can find cognac "Noy Araspel" 3 and 5 years old, they differ in price. A bottle of cognac is perfect for a gift - the product is of high quality and memorable, rich taste. The bottle is massive, of unusual shape, making it easy to distinguish the original from a fake.

Among many other varieties of cognac, "Noy Araspel" is distinguished by a rich amber light, which becomes even darker over the years. For the production of cognac, special vintage grape varieties are harvested. Brandy is produced in Armenia and exported not only to Russia, but also to the USA and Europe. The main feature of this cognac is that, despite its high quality, the price for one bottle is affordable for a simple average consumer.

Cost: from 1164 rubles, depending on the volume.

"Noah Araspel"
"Noah Araspel"

pros

  • stylish design, high quality bottle;
  • the ability to identify a fake by special characteristics;
  • the quality of the drink is confirmed by the presence of numerous awards;
  • pleasant, light aftertaste of chocolate and vanilla;
  • the aftertaste lasts for a long period of time;
  • high quality ingredients.

Minuses

  • high cost of the bottle.

Cognac "Noy Araspel"

№ 3. "Tsar Tigran"

Premium cognac "Tsar Tigran" can be purchased only in specialized alcoholic supermarkets. This drink is considered one of the highest quality cognacs, and its aging is about 10 years. The drink received an unusual dark amber color due to a special production technology using wild yeast. Cognac has a pronounced aftertaste with notes of ginger, chocolate, vanilla and flowers. The main advantage of cognac is the absence of bitterness, soft and delicate taste.

Due to the fact that the cognac is prepared using a multi-stage technology, its taste and aroma are revealed gradually. This is an indicator of the high quality of the drink. Immediately after the bottle is opened, you can smell the bright aroma of lemon zest and bay leaf, but with further study of the aroma, creamy notes emerge. Despite the fact that the drink has a certain astringency, the alcoholic aftertaste is completely absent. The aftertaste lasts for 15-20 minutes.

Cost: from 1490 rubles, depending on the exposure.

"Tsar Tigran"
"Tsar Tigran"

pros

  • long exposure, there are drinks in the series with aging up to 10 years;
  • rich dark amber color;
  • unusual, long-lasting aftertaste;
  • it is easy to distinguish real cognac from fake by signs on the bottle and label.

Cognac "Tsar Tigran"

No. 2. Hennessy V.S.O.P

Country of origin - France. For production, carefully processed alcohol is used, which, in combination with other ingredients, does not give an unpleasant aftertaste and bitterness. The drink can be presented to friends, colleagues or boss as a gift - the manufacturer has packed a bottle of cognac in a high-quality gift box. Hennessy cognac is the epitome of excellence and sophistication. The flavor notes of the drink are perfectly matched so that they go well with each other. Cognac can be consumed neat, undiluted, or over ice. Dark chocolate is suitable as a dessert.

Cost: about 4000 rubles - for a volume of 0.7 liters, 6120 - for a volume of 1 liter, 9355 - for a volume of 1.5 liters with a gift box.

"Hennessy" V.S.O.P
"Hennessy" V.S.O.P

pros

  • light, balanced taste with notes of licorice and honey;
  • floral oak aftertaste;
  • light amber shade;
  • exposure - 4 years;
  • stylish packaging and a beautiful bottle.

Cognac "Hennessy" V.S.O.P

№ 1. Ararat "Nairi"

One of the most expensive sorts of cognac is Ararat "Nairi". The drink of Armenian production is distinguished by a particularly rich, dark amber color and at the same time complete transparency, there is no sediment even at the bottom of the bottle. The taste is rich, harmonious, there are no unnecessary impurities. Refined, sophisticated aroma. The taste of cognac is revealed gradually - at first you can feel the aftertaste of fried bread and cloves, and after 15 minutes you can feel the aftertaste of cinnamon and honey. Despite the fact that the drink is strong enough, alcohol is almost not felt. You can feel the notes of apple and other fruits, as well as the appearance of an oak aroma due to the fact that the drink was aged in oak barrels.

Cognac "Nairi" is very easy to drink due to the absence of unpleasant bitterness. It is almost impossible to confuse the taste of "Nairi" with another cognac, since it is truly unique.

Cost: 4500 - 6130 rubles, depending on the volume.

Ararat "Nairi"
Ararat "Nairi"

pros

  • a long aftertaste that lasts for 10-20 minutes and changes from more intense to less intense notes;
  • unique taste characteristics, different from those found in any other drinks;
  • long exposure;
  • can be consumed undiluted, or mixed with cola and ice, making cocktails;
  • light taste without bitterness, no pronounced alcoholic aftertaste.

Minuses

  • high price;
  • not sold in all stores.

Alcohol Cognac Ararat "Nairi"

Comparison of the best brands of cognac

By comparing several of the best brands of cognac, you can choose the drink that suits you ideally not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of other characteristics.

For comparison, we have selected three brands of cognac:

  • "Tsar Tigran";
  • Hennesy V.S.O.P;
  • "Ararat" Nairi ".
Brand Quality Taste notes / aftertaste Excerpt Gift wrap The cost
"Tsar Tigran""Tsar Tigran" Premium Lemon zest, bay leaf, creamy notes 10 years Yes From 1490 rubles
"Hennessy" V.S.O.P"Hennessy" V.S.O.P Premium Liquorice, honey, flowers, oak 4 years Yes 4000 - 9355 rubles
Ararat "Nairi"Ararat "Nairi" Premium Fried bread, cloves, honey, cinnamon 20 years Yes 4500 - 6130 rubles

Three brands of cognac - "Tsar Tigran", "Ararat Nairi" and "Hennesy V.S.O.P" - are premium brands, however, the drink is sold at different prices and has different aging. For those who appreciate long-aged cognac, “Ararat Nairi” is ideal. Despite the fact that the cost of a 1.5 liter bottle reaches 6130 rubles, the drink is very popular due to its aging duration - 20 years.

Video - Brandy Rating 2020 (up to 700 rubles)

How to choose a quality cognac

There are several signs-recommendations by which you can understand whether high-quality or low-quality cognac is in front of you:

  • the number of stars on the bottle "speaks" about the aging of the drink. Three stars - three years old, five stars - five years. As a rule, the longer the aging, the more refined the taste of the drink;
  • good cognac lacks synthetic additives and artificial flavors;
  • the label must contain all information about the drink: date of manufacture, exposure, composition, place of manufacture, volume fraction of alcohol. If at least one or two points are missing, you should think about the quality of the cognac;
  • plastic packaging is unacceptable for storing cognac! The drink can only be bottled in a quality glass bottle.

Video - How to choose and drink cognac correctly

Advice! When choosing, you should pay attention to the label - it should be glued exactly, strictly along the border. Any blurring, scuffs and irregularities are a sign of a poor-quality product or even a fake.

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