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Best $20-$30 Cognac?
December 21, 2005 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Cognac Filter! Looking for a reasonably-priced ($20-$30?) but decent bottle of cognac to give as a gift. Not my drink so I don't know where to start.
posted by jalexei to Food & Drink (19 answers total)
 
Remy Martin makes a variety of pretty decent and reasonably priced cognacs.
posted by saladin at 7:30 AM on December 21, 2005


Cognac, being the French name for brandy, is usually shipped from France, which raises the price; any cognac in that price range would probably be crap. Assuming you're in the US you might do better to look for an American brandy instead. I don't know much about those so I have to recommend a web search (or a more knowledgeable Mefite), I just wanted to warn you that your pickings for cognac in that range are slim.

I think you'd have the best luck finding a decent bourbon whiskey, like maybe the 10 year old 107 proof Old Rip Van Winkle, my personal favorite bourbon that happens to be in that price range around here.

(By the way, how many people agree with me that Wild Turkey is a fine sippin' whiskey?)
posted by davy at 7:43 AM on December 21, 2005


on Bourbon: Ezra Brooks would be hands-down my sippin' choice (i.e., cheap, good). In the Old Rip Van Winkle (which I haven't tried) price range, I favor Elmer Lee. But your recommendation of Mr. Van Winkle has me thirsting for happy hour already...will have to try that one.
posted by mcstayinskool at 8:06 AM on December 21, 2005


At that price, you might be better off looking for a nicely packaged gift sampler of four or five 50ml bottles.
posted by staggernation at 8:24 AM on December 21, 2005


i just tried my first cognac (delicious!) and have no real recommendations on brands or price range unfortunately. But from cognac drinking friends i would venture to say that they are very particular with their cognac, ie: would prefer to spend more money for the better drink.

it seems to me that's what cognac is all about.

I think staggernation has the right idea.
posted by freudianslipper at 8:37 AM on December 21, 2005


I can recommend Pierre Ferrand, but their basic "Amber" bottle is typically around $40.
posted by briank at 8:40 AM on December 21, 2005


also, if you are in CA you could try BevMo. I can't buy from them since they only ship in CA but it might give you an idea of what's out there if you search for Cognac.

It appears there are a number of Hennessy products within your range. I have no idea on quality though maybe somebody else could help with that.
posted by freudianslipper at 8:41 AM on December 21, 2005


Well, I'm in the UK so overtaxed of course, but converted into sterling that doesn't sound like a lot to spend on cognac. It will get you bottom of the range - the upper end of the "ordinary" bracket would probably be something like Hennessy XO, which costs £100 for 70cl (or about £70 in airport shops).

Might be better as others have suggested getting a high quality domestic spirit.

Cognac by the way isn't "French brandy" per se - it's a protected origin label for brandy produced in a particular region of France - similar to champagne.

It is true that the label cognac carries a premium though. You could look around for a quality brandy instead. I'm very fond of an Italian brandy made by Poli (better known for their grappa), and Richard Ehrlich was talking-up a British brand (H by Hine) at the weekend that seemed particularly reasonably priced. Don't know what your chances of sourcing either in the States are, but you get the idea... Try just going into a department store or somewhere with a good drinks range, tell them your budget and ask for advice.
posted by bifter at 9:04 AM on December 21, 2005


Thanks for all the input - In matters alcoholic, I'm always in favor of getting the good stuff, but the gift is for the coffeshop owner on my street, so anything above that price range might be a little weird. Given that I don't know him as well as others I might be buying for, some sort of small sampler might make sense. Also will investigate some domestic brandies.
posted by jalexei at 9:42 AM on December 21, 2005


Aw, there's nothing wrong with a nice bottle of reg'lar Courvoisier (around $30 in these parts) or Remy. They're perfectly servicable cognacs. I prefer those over Hennessey or Martell's myself, but that's just me.

And just to add to the party, my wife really enjoys Asbach, a German brandy.
posted by Skot at 10:04 AM on December 21, 2005


Remy is fine, there is one in a clear bottle (as opposed to the traditional black) called, I think Grand Cru (I might be wrong) that is around twenty to thirty dollars and it's very good, a little less smooth than the VSOP but some people (like yours truly) actually like it that way. I am a huge fan of Calvados (apple brandy) because it is kind of raw and intense, but that is usually more expensive. Go to a decent liquor store (one without bulletproof plastic between you and the booze) and ask, they'll help.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:34 AM on December 21, 2005


For cognac, you need to spend around $50 for decent quality. See http://www.saveur.com/article.jsp?ID=4138&typeID=100 with tasting notes at
http://www.saveur.com/article.jsp?ID=4141&typeID=350 .

There's a distinct jump in quality when you get to the XOs, starting at around $100.
posted by KRS at 1:53 PM on December 21, 2005


In Colorado, for example, at Applejack's in Wheat Ridge (huge liquor store) you can usually get on sale a 750 ml bottle of Remy Martin VSOP for around $30. All the regular VSOPs (Courvoisier, Martell, etc) are in 30-40 dollar range at larger liquor stores. You can also get a nice bottle of Armangac for $30-40. You don't need to spend any more than this for a fine bottle of cognac or armangac (a little more than cognac usually). Get VSOP instead of VS.
posted by madstop1 at 4:41 PM on December 21, 2005


Lautrec VSOP is $40/1.75L at my local (overpriced) liquor store. It's not terribly complex or overwhelmingly fabulous, but is acceptable for general purpose sipping and cooking.
posted by Lycaste at 8:27 PM on December 21, 2005


Germain-Robin's brandies are exquisite values for the price, and if I were you, I'd give your friend a bottle of one of them. (I like their Old Havana, myself; it gives the bottle of Remy XO standing next to it a run for its money.)

Don't give someone Hainous-y VS unless you know they like it; it's really terrible. The same goes for most VS Cognac; I strongly second the recommendation to at least get VSOP.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:15 PM on December 21, 2005


Germain-Robin. Their base product retails around $30 and punches waaay above it's weight.
posted by Triode at 10:19 PM on December 21, 2005


D'oh! *lifts glass to ikku2's good taste in brandy, and speedy typing.
posted by Triode at 10:19 PM on December 21, 2005


Thanks all - ended up with Remy VSOP for $30, but I've been intrigued enough by all the info here to divert some Christmas cash next week and treat myself to some XO.
posted by jalexei at 8:20 AM on December 22, 2005


Yay! Enjoy - it's definitely worth it, good cognac is one of the few drinks I can think of on which it's worth spending more than a ton.
posted by bifter at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2005


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