What does X.O. mean for Cognac?
X.O. is an aging designation given to Cognacs, that means “extra old”. The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) is the governing body that monitors the production of Cognac to ensure that it meets all required standards. In 1983, the BNIC established designations with respect to classifying Cognacs by age. The designation X.O. applies to Cognacs in which the youngest eau-de-vie blended in the Cognac is not less than six years old.
UPDATE April 1, 2018: The BNIC has changed its designation for XO to require the youngest eau-de-vie to be no less than 10 years old. Read more here.
Cognacs that undergo less aging include V.S. (Very Special) – Cognacs are those whose youngest eau-de-vie is at least two years old and V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) – Cognacs whose youngest eau-de-vie is at least four years old.
The aging designation is determined by the youngest eau-de-vie blended in the Cognac, not the oldest.
A Change Coming for X.O. Cognacs
On April 1, 2018, Cognac ageing designations are about to undergo their first major change since 1983. According to the BNIC, starting on the first of April, in order for a Cognac to carry the designation “X.O.”, the youngest eau-de-vie will have to be at least ten years old. The new requirement for the youngest eau-de-vie to be at least ten years old may required some Cognac Houses to change the blendings of their X.O. offerings.
Nearly all Cognac Houses produce an X.O. Cognac. Cognac master blenders generally select their finest eaux-de-vie from the best growing crus for longer aging.
Hennessy X.O. was created by Maurice Hennessy in 1870 and in 1872 was the first Cognac to be designated X.O. The House of Hennessy also holds the distinction of creating the first Cognac to be designated V.S.O.P. Hennessy X.O. is now produced under Hennessy’s cellar master Renaud Fillioux du Gironde.
Hennessy XO. is a blend of about 100 different eaux-de-vie made from Ugni Blanc grapes from the Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fin Bois appellations that are aged up to thirty years in French Limousin oak barrels.
Rémy Martin X.O. Excellence
Rémy Martin’s X.O offering was created in 1981 by Rémy Cellar Master André Giraud.
Rémy Martin XO is a blend of over 400 eaux-de vie from the Grande and Petite Champagne growing crus and is aged between ten and thirty-seven years in French Limousin oak barrels. Since the youngest eau-de-vie in Rémy Martin XO Excellence is at least ten years old there probably won’t be any change in the production methods of this Cognac.
Courvoisier X.O. is currently crafted by Patrice Pinet, Courvoisier’s Master Blender.
Courvoisier X.O. is crafted from eaux-de-vie from the Grand and Petite Champagne growing crus in the Cognac region of France, with a touch of eaux-de-vie from the Borderies growing cru. This Cognac is aged 11-25 years in French Oak barrels.
Martell X.O. is produced under the direction of Cellar Master Christophe Valtaud.
Martell X.O. is made predominantly from Grand Champagne and Petite Champagne eaux-de-vie with the remaining eaux-de-vie coming from the Borderies growing cru. It is aged up to thirty five years in French Tronçais oak barrels.
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