Our Top Cognac Picks Beyond the Big Four

The Big Four—Hennessy, Courvoisier, Martell, and Remy Martin—make up the lion’s share of the cognac market. But looking beyond these brands, you can find some great cognacs, often at a fraction of their competitors' prices. Here are our top picks under $125.
Dec 29, 2019
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    10 Cognac Paul Giraud XO
    Paul Giraud Cognacs are produced only from the Grande Champagne region and are never blended from different years. Their cognac is made from ugni blanc, folle blanche, and colombard grapes grown on their estate. While the minimum aging for an XO designation is a mere 10 years (updated from six in 2018), this bottling greatly exceeds the standard. Paul Giraud XO is aged for 25 years in barrels with a medium toast and with 33% of those barrels being new.
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    9 Dobbé 10 Year Petite Champagne Brut de Fût
    The Dobbé family has been producing cognac for eight generations, going back to around 1787. The family estate covers 35 hectares, two-thirds of which are in Petite Champagne, with the remainder in Fins Bois. The Petite Champagne expression is bottled exclusively from that region and aged 10 years in Limousin oak.
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    8 Camus VSOP Elegance Cognac
    Camus (pronounced "Kah-moo") is a five-generation cognac producing family that traces its roots in the business back to 1863. Their estate vineyards in the Borderies cru, an area within Cognac, is the primary source of wine that serves as the base for their spirits with additional eaux-de-vie sourced from all six areas within the Cognac region. For the VSOP Elegance, Maison CAMUS selects aromatic eaux-de-vie partially distilled on the lees, including some from the Borderies cru. It is aged in specially selected and seasoned barrels.
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    7 HINE Rare VSOP Cognac
    This VSOP from HINE is comprised of about 60% Grand Champagne and the remainder using Petite Champagne eaux-de-vie making this a Fine Champagne Cognac. The age for the cognac used in this blend range from 6-12 years with the average age being 8 years.
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    6 Cognac Jean Fillioux Très Vieux
    Cognac Jean Fillioux has a heritage dating back to 1880. The house was founded by Honore Fillioux, and currently is run by 4th generation owner Pascal Fillioux, and his son, Christophe. They are not only within Grande Champagne, but within what is known as the "golden triangle" of the 1er Cru de Cognac. Très Vieux is the house's flagship expression, aged for 25 years.
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    5 Delamain Pale & Dry XO Cognac
    Delamain was established in 1920 and is still (mostly) family-owned. They are a cognac house which uses only eaux-de-vie from the highest cru in Cognac, the Grande Champagne region. Delamain Pale & Dry XO Cognac 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. There is no caramel color added and the proof is brought down with older cognac at a lower proof rather than with water.
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    4 Cognac Park XO Traditional Reserve
    Maison Tessendier exclusively uses ugni blanc grapes harvested from the four best crus in France: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois. While other expressions in the brand's lineup feature eaux-de-vie from one to three growing regions, their Cognac Park XO Traditional Reserve uses eaux-de-vie from all four, each double-distilled in Charentais copper pot-stills. Aged for 20 to 25 years, new medium-toasted French Limousin oak casks were used during the first year of aging, followed by a secondary maturation in older casks. After blending, it is bottled at 40% ABV.
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    3 Drouet XO Cuvée Ulysse
    Drouet is a single estate cognac brand located within the Grande Champagne area. All aspects of production from tending to the vines to bottling take place on the 80 acre estate. Ugni blanc and some colombard are used in its production and the wine is distilled on the lees. The eaux de vie in the Ulysse are aged for an average of 20 years in used French oak barrels after 6 months to one year in new French oak. This bottling is named after master distiller Patrick Drouet's great-great grandfather Ulysse Dumargue.
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    2 Paul Beau Hors d'Âge Grande Champagne Cognac
    Rancio & Nutty
    Maison Paul Beau has been distilling cognac under the family name consistently since 1977, but off and on prior to that since 1895 when they also produced for other houses. Their Hors d'Âge is produced from the ugni blanc grape produced on their estate in Segonzac in Grande Champagne. Their 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.
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    1 Cognac Dudognon Vieille Réserve
    Sweet & Nutty
    Maison Dudognon enjoys a long history in Cognac's grand cru: Grande Champagne. From their history as grower/negociants from 1776 to the modern era post 1970 where they no longer sell to cognac's big houses, the quality of their vineyards and brandies have been held to the highest regard. One could cite their old vines of ugni blanc, their minuscule alembic stills, or even their painstaking French barrel selection -- whatever the cause, the cognacs speak of remarkable purity and sense of place. The "Vieille Reserve" is a blend of barrels that averages 20 years of age -- this is just enough time for the grapes from the chalky vineyards to shed their tough, mineral youth and show the latent fruit and nutty cognac flavors held beneath.