The Difference Between VSOP and XO Cognac

The Difference Between VSOP and XO Cognac

Photo: Unsplash

Beer & Wine
  • Smaller Small Medium Big Bigger
  • Default Helvetica Segoe Georgia Times

VSOP and XO CognacPhiladelphia, PA - Cognac is an intricate spirit with various grades available. These range from VS to XO and differentiate by age and quality of the eau-de-vie blend. Fresh pears and apricots seduce the nose while the palate delivers ample depth, boasting vanilla, licorice, and spicy notes that linger through to the finish.


Cognac is a distilled spirit made from grapes aged in oak barrels for several years, providing an array of flavors and a smooth and flavorful taste. Cognac can be enjoyed either neat, on the rocks, or mixed into cocktails like Remy and ginger ale or the Sidecar, which can easily be made at home.

Are you confused by all the ALLCAPS letters on a bottle of Cognac, such as VS, VSOP, and XO? These letters indicate how long the youngest component has been aged in oak barrels.

VS Cognac, often called three stars or Tres Special, is typically considered Cognac's youngest and most youthful grade. With fruity and lively notes that pair well with cocktails, this grade usually blends eaux de vie from Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Borderies regions into its blends.


Cognac comes in many grades, each representing its level of complexity after being aged for at least four years in French oak barrels. Of the varieties, Very Special Cognac (VS) is younger and fruitier, while VSOP requires at least four years of aging time in French oak barrels for best results; finally, there's XO, aged at least six years to produce its smooth and luxurious taste profile that you can enjoy either neat or on the rocks.

If you're new to Cognac, we recommend starting with a VS variety for cocktails or sipping straight up. Also, pairing one of our more complex offerings, like VSOP or XO Cognac, with foods and appetizers for optimal pairings.

Cognac pairs beautifully with creamy cheeses (Roquefort or mascarpone), cured meats, tomato-based pasta dishes, and tomato-based sauces; while its higher grades (VSOP and XO) pair best with aged cheeses like Mimolette or Parmesan. You can then move on to more sophisticated pairings of Cognac with foie gras, roast duck, or chocolate.


Cognac can be costly, but they don't have to break the bank. Newcomers to this category should start with VS cognacs which are young and fruity, perfect for cocktails or sipping neat. Experienced drinkers may wish to advance to more refined VSOP or XO cognacs with longer aging times and deeper flavors.

Martell VSOP is one of the industry's best-known and easily available brands globally across supermarkets, bars, and restaurants. Boasting peach yogurt and vanilla notes both perfumed and concentrated for maximum enjoyment, this VSOP also boasts an autumnal profile for maximum seasonal pleasure, ideal when enjoyed chilled with large ice cubes or in Sidecar cocktails.

Hennessy Privilege VSOP is another superb VSOP option with its fruity bouquet and smooth, refreshing melon flavor - making it the ideal VSOP choice for anyone who enjoys sherry-cask finishes without paying exorbitant costs for them.

Food Pairings

As well as being a fantastic drink on its own, Cognac makes for a delectable dessert pairing. Citrus notes from VS Cognac pair beautifully with sea scallops, while its vanilla profile pairs nicely with souffle or Chambord mousse desserts.

Young cheeses tend to pair best with lighter Cognacs. In contrast, more aged ones taste best with mature bottles, such as the 1738 Accord Royal's VSOP bottle or the floral and fruity notes in Tercet VS Cognac, which match well with desserts with berries as a base note.

Like wine, the rich, nutty flavors of an XO Cognac pair well with cheeses like Parmesan or Irish cheddar - their richness amplifies its complexity! Additionally, its roasted notes go well with dark chocolate to elevate its sweetness, making XO Cognacs excellent aperitifs!

Share This Article on Social Media

Latest Posts

Sign up via our free email subscription service to receive notifications when new information is available.

Sponsered Ads

Follow PhillyBite:

Follow Our Socials Below