Headed home for the holidays? Why not surprise your loved ones with Cognac and Armagnac this year? We have nine bottle selections which cover all of the bases. Need a gift for someone who is just getting into these categories? We have a few suggestions for you. Have someone who is keen on showing off their bartending skills? We have some recommendations for them too. And for the aficionados, we have a few selections to add to their collections. Please note, all prices listed are average retail prices in the US.
For the Beginner
Technically, this is an eau de vie du vin. Martell designed this especially for the whiskey drinker. It was created by taking Martell VSOP Cognac aged in French oak casks and finishing its maturation in Kentucky bourbon barrels. The American bourbon comes through with notes of vanilla and smoke, but the fruit flavors of the brandy shine through.
Bottom Line: A fantastic gift for a whisk(e)y drinker in your life who is interested in learning more about brandy.
This brand’s VS Carte Blanche has been produced in small batches to maintain character. It is comprised of brandies blended from the Fins Bois and Petite Champagne crus with ugni blanc grapes. Aged in new Limousin casks for 6 months, the spirit is then transferred to older casks for further aging, between 4 and 8 years. A fragrant fruity and floral Cognac.
Bottom Line: This would make a great gift for someone who is starting to get into Cognac. It’s highly rated and has fruity accessible flavors.
The vineyards for the Château are located in Bas-Armagnac, and for this bottling, 60% ugni blanc and 40% Baco grapes were used for distillation. This is the youngest expression of Tariquet’s portfolio and is aged a minimum of 3 years in French oak. This bottling displays dried fruits, especially plums, along with integrated barrel spices. It would be a good introduction to Armagnac for those making the leap from Cognac.
Bottom Line: This would be a great gift for someone who already loves Cognac and is up for a little exploration into other categories.
For the Cocktail Maker
1840 Original Formula was created as a collaboration between Pierre Ferrand owner, Alexandre Gabriel, their cellar master, Christian Guerin, and cocktail historian, Dave Wondrich. Using a rare 19th century Cognac as a guide, this product is designed to replicate what would have been used then in cocktails and punches. Its youthful fruity and floral character along with its higher proof for added oomph makes it stand out from other VS Cognacs.
Bottom Line: This bottle will make a great gift for someone who enjoys creating new, exciting, and high proof cocktails.
Created by HINE’s celebrated Cellar Master, Eric Forget, in collaboration with the French Bartenders Association, the Cognac is made by using 20 different eau-de-vie with a minimum aging of 4 years. The aroma is vibrant with fruits such as peaches, apricots, and white grapes. A solid Cognac for cocktail use.
Bottom Line: This bottle would make a great gift for anyone that likes making Cognac cocktails and wants a highly rated spirit to use.
For generations, Blanche Armagnac has been enjoyed by the families that produce it, and their friends, but it wasn’t until 2005 that it was legalized and made available commercially. This un-aged Armagnac is from the Grande-Bas vineyards of the legendary Montesquiou family. Though traditionally served neat, this is starting to be used as a replacement for vodka in cocktails.
Bottom Line: Buy this Armagnac for a cocktail enthusiast that wants to use a delicious alternative to vodka.
For the Aficionado
Delamain was established in 1920 and is still (mostly) family-owned. It is a Cognac house which uses only eau-de-vie from the highest cru in Cognac, the Grande Champagne region. Their “Pale & Dry” XO is named for its pale color and dry style of Cognac. It is also the youngest release from the house, with an average age of 25 years. Expect a myriad of flavors from orange spiced tea to cherries. A Cognac bottling with finesse and a classic to enjoy year round.
Bottom Line: This is a great gift for a Cognac lover that will impress without totally breaking the bank.
Chateau de Ravignan is a historic castle in the Bas-Armagnac region of Armagnac. Grapes have been planted there since 1732, and the vineyards surround a church from the 16th century. This land feels out of time, and the brandies produced here have the same noble heritage of Louis the 4th. Because of the estate’s long run, the Armagnacs are never rushed to the market, rather they enjoy a long slumber in the cool, damp cellar.
The 1985 vintage is a fantastic example that shows soaring (and a bit uncommon) flavors of vanilla bean with a more classic back drop of milk chocolate, prune and exotic spice. The mouthfeel is rich and decadent—not surprising for a spirit that has spent 29 years maturing.
Bottom Line: Our expert tasters rated this 95 Points for a reason. If you’re looking for something unique and impressive, this is the one.
This Hors d’Age is produced from the ugni blanc grape produced on their estate in Segonzac in Grande Champagne. Paul Beau’s Master Distiller, Olivier Laurichesse, produces their Cognacs without additives. The wines are filtered from their lees (the dead yeast cells left after fermentation) for a clean style. You will not find any of the soft, vanilla character common in big houses here, but rather a heady combination of toasted walnut, cherry wood, and savory rancio.
Bottom Line: This Cognac has won multiple awards around the world and is highly rated by Distiller. You can’t go wrong.
Thirsty for more brandy?