The XO Factor
For a complex French spirit, cognac comes in grades with simple English names. Moving up the ladder, there’s VS (or Very Special, with eaux-de-vie aged for a minimum of two years), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale, aged for at least four years) and then there’s XO, which stands for Extra Old. Traditionally, the youngest brandy in an XO had to be at least six years old, but starting in April 2018, the minimum will be ten years. Think of it as Extra Extra Old.
Left to right: Hennessy XO Limited Edition by Marc Newson ($200); Rémy Martin XO ($150); D’USSÉ XO ($230); Courvoisier XO ($150); Martell XO ($180)