15 Cognac Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

It's official: Americans absolutely love their cognac. According to Yahoo Finance, plenty of people turned to cognac and champagne during the pandemic, perhaps as a small way to give themselves a premium treat while riding out the pandemic at home. Now that the world is opening up again, sales of these fine liquors show no signs of slowing down. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, cognac is a top-notch experience and an age-old luxury that dates to the 17th century.

Cognac undergoes a specific and detailed distillation and maturation process, and many connoisseurs love the litany of different delicious notes and finishes that you can get from the good stuff. No matter what your taste or budget, there's bound to be a cognac out there for you. The following cognac brands range from the delectable to the divine, and all of them are worthy of a prime spot at your home bar.

15. Merlet

Merlet is an exceptional distillery located right in the center of Cognac, France. Part vineyard, part distillery, the team at Merlet really knows its stuff, and they've been working on perfecting their smooth line of cognacs since 1850 (via Merlet). Although you'd be hard-pressed not to find a great cognac at Merlet, there are a few that truly stand out. Merlet Brothers Blend is a nicely-aged addition to their cognac lineup, with a bright finish and a gorgeous golden hue.

C² Café is an excellent option that fuses coffee liqueur and velvety cognac into a cordial with a kick for those who like their cognac with a little jolt of caffeine. Although many cognac enthusiasts prefer to sip their C² Café straight, you can certainly enjoy it over ice and/or whiskey rocks for a refined experience. Best of all, most Merlet blends are reasonably priced, making them great companions for your home bar.

14. Pierre Ferrand

Pierre Ferrand is the artisanal cognac from Maison Ferrand, a renowned distillery in Ars, Cognac, France, that continues to make huge waves in the cognac world (via Maison Ferrand). According to Drink Me, Pierre Ferrand is one of the gold standards of cognacs, known for its long distillation and maturation times. Since the cognac-making process at Pierre Ferrand is so meticulous, its end products tend to be multi-layered and nuanced, which makes them great for both cognac lovers and those who are new to the spirit.

The other thing that sets Pierre Ferrand apart is its grapes. Its master blenders and distillers use Angeac-Champagne grapes grown in chalky soil, lending these grapes a distinctive and appealing taste to the cognac. Similarly, a robust maturation process in Pierre Ferrand's limestone cellar highlights the unique aspect of the grapes, producing a cognac with a rich, oaky flavor beloved among cognac aficionados.

13. Monnet

Straight out of Jarnac, France, Monnet is a cognac house that focuses heavily on the bright and beautiful side of the beverage (via Monnet). As with many of the top distilleries, Monnet has been around for quite a while. Since 1838, Monnet has been honing its craft, fine-tuning its cognac distillation and maturation process. Monnet's signature spin is best described as "sunny" and "bright." Although you'll undoubtedly get plenty of oaky notes, there are tons of fruit and flowers in each sip.

This delicate dance between rich oak and bright florals makes Monnet a true stand-out in the cognac world. Even if you have several cognacs in your home bar, there's a good chance that you don't have one quite like Monnet. Although Monnet's cognacs go well with a warm fire on a crisp fall evening, it's also a great summer drink, light enough to play well with hot temperatures.

12. Dudognon

Dudognon, in Lignières-Sonneville, France, is a legacy distillery with roots going back to 1776 (via Dudognon). As with many of the top picks on our list, it doubles as a winery and specializes in pure cognacs free from caramel or sugar. Instead, you just get the authentic cognac flavor with plenty of grape punch. They age all of their cognacs for at least six to eight months, infusing the drink with cask flavors and prolonging the maturation process so that you get the perfect draught.

Dudogon's process is fairly meticulous, taking time to methodically harvest different grapes at different times, producing a drink where you can taste the respect for the fruit in every drop. Although Dudognon cognacs are tasty all on their own or served over just the slightest amount of ice, they blend beautifully into cocktails too. This is excellent news for cognac novices who are keen to try the drink but want to take baby steps.

11. A.E. Dor

A.E. Dor's cognac house specializes in spirits with whimsical flavor profiles and unique maturations. Its cognacs are bold and bright, bursting with plenty of citrus and darker hints of chocolate for lots of unique layers of flavor (via A.E. Dor). It's also been around for several generations and is widely considered to be one of the top cognac houses in the region, thanks to a blend of unique style and traditional techniques.

Although it would be difficult to go wrong with any cognacs at A.E. Dor, two stand out. Emblème Cognac combines Fins Bois and Grande Champagne grapes for a subtle mix of vanilla, apricot, and chocolate. You'll also get plenty of oak with this one. Its Cognac Albane is another incredible choice made with Grande Champagne grapes and bursting with fruity, sweet notes. If you're looking for a round, drinkable summer cognac, Cognac Albane is a very good choice.

10. Hardy

Although many of the top cognacs on our list are produced by French citizens, Hardy was the brainchild of English ex-pat Anthony Hardy who opened the Cognac-region distillery to perfect the area's most famous liquor (via Hardy). According to Cognac.com, Hardy's fine cognacs achieved worldwide acclaim, with imports going as far as Czarist Russia. Today, you can drink just like a Czar with some of Hardy's more unique and classic offerings, like Hardy VSOP, Hardy XO Rare, and Hardy VS.

Hardy's Prestige Collection is an exceptional example of ultra-aged cognacs with bright floral flavor and plenty of deep woody undertones. It's Legend 1863 is another great pick, full of robust and warm cappuccino flavor, a delicious vanilla undertone, and plenty of sparkling citrus notes to fully round off the drink. Hardy cognacs work well neat or over a few cold whiskey rocks so that you can fully appreciate the flavor.

9. François Voyer

Made primarily of Ugni Blanc grapes, François Voyer's line of cognacs is delicate, tasty, and tinged with just the right amount of oak (via François Voyer). If you're new to cognacs, their blends may be perfect for you. It's not as heady as other varieties, but you still get that signature cognac taste and velvety texture. Like many of our top picks, François Voyer comes from the Grande Champagne region and has produced high-quality cognacs for generations (via Cognac Expert).

François Voyer's distillation and maturation processes are meticulous, and its presentation is beautiful, too, with gold-tinged handsome bottles that look fabulous on any home bar. It also makes an excellent gift, and since the cognac is milder, you can rest assured that even cognac enthusiasts will enjoy every sip. The Napoleon cognac and VSOP cognacs are good picks, especially if you're looking for a liquor that you can savor on ice or stir into a tasty cocktail.

8. Frapin

Frapin is one of the top cognac distilleries in France's Cognac region, a distinction that has earned several prestigious awards, including "Best Spirit in the World" at the 2008 International Spirits Challenge (via Cognac Frapin). Even cognac novices and casual drinkers will notice immediately that these bottles are velvety and creamy, with a luxurious mouthfeel and an excellent finish. Frapin's cognac house tops many lists because it has cognacs for every taste and style.

For example, the Frapin 1270 is an exceptional beginner cognac with a delicate flavor. Frapin 1270 is very approachable and drinkable, and it tastes lovely in mixed drinks and on the rocks. Since it's not such a heavy cognac, you can serve it as an after-dinner cocktail or bring it to a holiday gathering or gala. Frapin also has heartier and more robust offerings for cognac lovers, including its Cognac XO VIP, an aromatic, multi-faceted drink with tons of cask flavoring in every sip.

7. Hine

Hine is another fabulous cognac house out of Jarnac, France, that uses Grande and Petite Champagne grapes in many of its top cognacs (via Hine). As a result, these drinks fall into the category of "fine champagne," making them certified premium cognacs guaranteed to please almost any palate (via Encyclopedia Britannica). Hine also specializes in highlighting specific vintages, and each of its cognacs is distinct and richly flavored. In addition to great grapes, the key to Hines' success lies in the maturation process.

Although some of their cognacs mature right at the Jarnac distillery, the master blenders at Hine send others to specific places in the United Kingdom for a distinctly different maturation journey that yields surprising new notes. As a result, savvy sippers will taste orange, delicate florals, and rich oaky tones in many of Hine's top offerings. You can enjoy many of them, like VSOP, on the rocks or stirred into cocktails.

6. Rémy Martin

Even if you're not a huge cognac fan, there's a good chance that you've heard of Rémy Martin. This legendary cognac house lies right in the very heart of the Cognac region and is widely considered one of the top cognac distilleries on the planet. According to Food and Wine, cognac lovers worldwide recognize Rémy Martin's classic black VSOP bottle as one of the top vintages available. However, although its VSOP is undoubtedly one-of-a-kind, there are plenty of other vital varieties, like the 1738 Accord Royal. A smooth cognac with notes of vanilla and toasted bread, the 1738 Accord Royal is a taste that will appeal to liquor lovers across the spectrum (via Rémy Martin).

Another exceptional selection is Rémy Martin's XO, a velvety smooth cognac that's also one of its oldest vintages. It's like a cognac version of fine wine, pairing with different food menus or subbing in for the perfect after-dinner aperitif. But, no matter which bottle you select, you're bound to be wowed by the complexity and artistry that is Rémy Martin.

5. Cognac Meukow

Although the Cognac Meukow distillery is in France's famed cognac region, it was borne out of the 19th-century Russian Czarist thirst for premium cognac, providing the Russian court with plenty of the good stuff (via Destination Cognac). Today, Cognac Meukow is of the same excellent quality, and you can enjoy a dazzling array of different vintages and styles. Although Cognac Meukow relies on tried-and-true techniques, it also experiments with different maturations and distillations to appeal to various tastes.

As with most high-quality cognacs, the spirits at Cognac Meukow are matured in oak for at least two years (via Cognac Meukow). Meukow VS, one of Cognac Meukow's most recognizable offerings, is a rich, round and bright cognac with a heady fruit flavor. Meukow XO is tannin-rich and fruit-forward and designed to appeal to sophisticated cognac drinkers. It's delicious neat, on the rocks, or stirred into the cocktail of your choice.

4. Bache-Gabrielsen

Cognac region's Bache-Gabrielsen fuses classic cognac flavors with new American-style casks for an inspired blend that pleases most palates (via Bache-Gabrielsen). This simple fact is why it charts so high on cognac lovers' lists and charts well with whiskey and scotch enthusiasts. Bache-Gabrielsen's secret is in its maturation process. Instead of using standard Cognac-region oak barrels, this distillery opts for authentic American Tennessee oak ones. As a result, the cognac has classic notes of premium whiskey woven throughout (via Whisky Advocate).

In addition to your standard flavors, savvy drinkers will notice apple, orange, spice, and a touch of vanilla among the cognacs of Bache-Gabrielsen. Although every bottle is different, you'll find inspired surprises all over. For example, while VS Tre Kors is filled with delicate fruit flavor, finishes fresh, and is ideal for classic cognac lovers and premium mixed drinks, other Bache-Gabrielsen cognacs are great for chilly winter evenings with family and friends.

3. Courvoisier

Courvoisier is another classic Cognac region distillery with a meticulous, masterful process that produces incredible styles of cognac every time. To create unique and stunning blends full of nuance and depth, Courvoisier uses several premium grapes, like Petite Champagne, Grande Champagne, Fins Bois, and Borderies (via Courvoisier). As with some of the other cognac houses on our list, Courvoisier leans hard into its playful side, with beautiful, bright bottles and bold fruity and floral flavors.

A great example is Courvoisier's XO Cognac, which is incredibly smooth and perfect for sipping neat or over whiskey rocks. It's got a bright, floral finish that's not too overwhelming but noticeable. Its VSOP has a little bit more of an edge, with a darker and more elegant finish that perfectly encapsulates the different grapes Courvoisier's master distillers use to make it. No matter which bottle you select, it's bound to be a winner, thanks to the perfectionism and skill of Courvoisier's distillers.

2. Martell

Featured in The New York Times Magazine, Martell cognac house has no shortage of glitz, glam, and top-notch cognacs. It's been producing quality liquors for over 300 years (via Martell) and is easily one of the most recognizable and cherished cognac houses from the famous French region. Martell's beauty lies in the simplicity of its process, using great grapes and undergoing a comprehensive and tested distillation and maturation process. Although many of Martell's recipes date back to its inception, it's always putting out new spins and blends, like Martell Cordon Bleu.

Other great cognacs include the Martell XO Cognac, a premium blend with a peppery hint and plenty of delicious forest fruits such as figs and blackcurrants. It's ideal for sipping neat or on the rocks. Martell VS is a winner, too, with tons of rich stone fruit notes like plum and apricot. It's a sound mixer or delicious for enjoying around the fire on a chilly winter's night.

1. Hennessy

Our top cognac has got to be the most recognizable one in the world. Hennessy is an exceptional liquor nearly universally palatable and appeals to both cognac connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike. According to The New York Times, Hennessy's secret weapons are patience and the excellent palates and wisdom of its master distillers. Elegant blends like Hennessy VS are full of complex, toasted flavors that make them ideal for mixed drinks or enjoying on the rocks (via Hennessy).

For another phenomenal selection, the Hennessy Paradis is an excellent choice. This cognac is smooth as silk and full of light, aromatic flavors with a nice bright finish. Hennessy Paradis is a newer blend (created in 1979) that's already achieved a special place in home bars across the country. With an opulent gold color and an approachable taste and finish, Hennessy Paradis is an excellent drink for people just trying cognac for the first time.