XO cognac, or extra old cognac, is a designation that refers to the age and quality of a particular cognac. In order to be labeled as an XO cognac, the youngest eau-de-vie (the clear, colorless fruit brandy that is the basis of cognac) in the blend must have been aged in oak casks for at least 10 years. However, many of the finest XO cognacs have much older components in their blends, with some even containing eaux-de-vie that have been aged for several decades.
The designation “XO” was created in 2018 to replace the previous designation “Hors d’Age,” which translates to “beyond age.” The change was made to clarify the age requirements of cognacs for consumers, as many brands had begun to use the “Hors d’Age” label on blends that did not meet the minimum age requirements of an XO cognac.
XO cognacs are highly prized for their depth, complexity, and richness of flavor. The long aging process allows for the eaux-de-vie to develop a wide range of aromas and flavors, including notes of fruit, spices, vanilla, and oak. The older components in the blend also bring a level of smoothness and elegance that cannot be achieved in younger cognacs.
XO cognacs are often considered the pinnacle of the cognac world and are highly sought after by collectors and connoisseurs. Many of the top XO cognacs are produced by well-known brands such as Hennessy, Remy Martin, and Courvoisier, but there are also many smaller, artisanal producers that create exceptional XO cognacs.
Despite their high cost, XO cognacs are a true luxury and are an experience to savor. The complexity and depth of these spirits make them a wonderful addition to any collection or a special treat for a memorable occasion.