- V.S. Very Special (minimum of two years of cask aging)
- V.S.O.P. Very Superior Old Pale (minimum of four years of cask aging)
- X.O. Extra Old (minimum of six years of cask aging, but the law will change, and from 2018 it is going to be 10 years)
Beyond the primary three types of Cognac there are several other names and titles used on Cognac bottles, such as: Premium (VS), Extra (essentially VSOP– with at least six years aging), Napoleon (between VSOP and XO), Vintage (a single vintage Cognac), Réserve Familiale (Family Reserve), Très Vieille Réserve (Very Old Reserve), Extra, Hors d’Âge, and Heritage (which can have 40, 50, 60 or more years of aging!). These aforementioned specifications are closely monitored by the appellation board of France.
Other names like “black” or “double oaked” or “very fine Cognac” are used by brands to market their Cognac brandies to signify a special batch (which might even be a recipe that includes the addition of caramel color or sugar!).
So, if you want an official designation of quality, look at the official classification and get the producer’s notes for that bottle.