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Best Cognacs for Christmas 2023

Do Cognac – and yourself – a favour this Christmas, and don’t wait until the dying embers of Boxing Day before you pop the cork for the first time. This great drink should be much more than a mere festive afterthought.

A good Cognac isn’t just for Christmas – and it isn’t only for after-dinner sipping either. Young, vibrant Cognacs of VS age or equivalent can make for a great aperitif when mixed with soda and garnished with citrus – or fill a highball glass with ice and stir up a fruit-forward VSOP with ginger ale.

Older Cognacs have the character and depth to shine through in a hedonistic Vieux Carré or a palate-opening Sidecar… but, taken neat, they’re still the ideal accompaniment to some late-night festive contemplation of another year gone by.

Whether you’re buying a gift for a loved one or restocking your own drinks cabinet for the festive season, it’s worth remembering that Cognac can also surprise in terms of its value for money. And not only among the lower VS and VSOP classifications.

Decanter Premium is the perfect last-minute gift for wine lovers!

Best Cognacs for Christmas: 1o to try

Camus Borderies Special Dry

Another liquid exploration of Camus’ vineyards in the tiny Borderies cru, which makes for enticingly aromatic Cognacs with good structure and acidity. Ripe citrus, a touch of cola cube and creamy texture = versatility. Fine on its own, but even better in a supremely fruity Sidecar. Alc 40%

Courvoisier XO Royal

Matured for 20-30 years, this unusually powerful Courvoisier is entitled to the new designation of XXO (as if Cognac needed yet more esoteric terminology…), but let’s focus instead on the unctuous dark fruit with an edge of violets, the spices, dark honey and fig. Pure opulence. Alc 40%

Delamain Pale & Dry XO Centenaire

Pale & Dry is a Christmas comfort to rank alongside It’s A Wonderful Life and leftover turkey curry; rebooted to mark its centenary, but still a gloriously fragrant Cognac with power and poise. Like walking through a wild flower meadow into an orangerie on a summer’s day. Alc 42%

Frapin 1270

Tempting to go for one of Frapin’s superb Fontpinot XOs, but this relative newcomer to the stable has all the hallmarks in accessible form. Fresh, delicately youthful, but upfrontly fruity too, it’s unusually approachable for a young Grande Champagne – and a terrific base for an aperitif or cocktail. Alc 40%

Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise Crystal Decanter

This remarkable Cognac epitomises the potential of combining Grande Champagne fruit with a small (25-hectolitre) still and several decades of patience. A kaleidoscope of flavours – spice bazaar, roasted hazelnut and prunes drowned in chocolate spring to mind – and a silky texture that teases out every nuance. Alc 43%

Jean Fillioux Réserve Familiale

Despite distant family links to the Hennessy master distiller dynasty, the Fillioux Cognacs show a very different, terroir-forward and expressive style. This long-aged example from the family estate is a wonderfully poised reconciliation of delicacy and depth, opulence and fragrance: jasmine, orange zest, cigar leaf and rich mocha. Alc 40%

Jean-Luc Pasquet L’Organic 04

A family-owned estate since 1730 and organically farmed since 1995, Jean-Luc Pasquet straddles Grande and Petite Champagne. This pale, delicate Grande Champagne Cognac is a great entry point, offering a beautiful expression of terroir at an excellent price. Look out for Pasquet’s Folle Blanche bottlings too. Alc 40%

M&S Collection Fine Champagne VSOP Cognac by Hine

Part of the retailer’s new quality spirits range, this tie-in with Hine offers a crowd-pleasing twist on the house style: still vinous and gently supple, but with a bit more oak oomph, creating alluring flavours of walnut, vanilla fudge and liquorice. Terrific value. Alc 40%

Maxime Trijol XO Classic

The ‘classic’ (ie not Grande Champagne) XO from this fabulous family house is one of the best-value XOs you’ll find. Aged for a couple of decades, it’s a winner right from the lifted, perfumed nose through to the firm structure, baking spice flavours and prickle of menthol. Alc 40%

WV Baker Rare Pale Cognac No 02-15

Great to see Cognacs like this gaining some renown. A single-vintage (2015), single-varietal (Colombard) expression, it’s pale, light and rainwater-fresh, with piercing lemon verbena notes, an edge of allspice and a seductively creamy texture. Mix it – but taste it neat first. Alc 43%

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