An Introduction to Martell Cognac
Martell is one of the world’s oldest cognac producers. Founded in 1715 by Jean Martell, the company boasts an impressive line drinks known for their aromatics and richness. Martell brandies are famous for being incredibly smooth and oaky because they’re aged in old oak casks for many years (at a minimum of two) before being bottled.
A Brand with a Rich History
Martell has an amazing history that spans over 300 hundred years. Surviving revolutions, trade embargos, and even being served at the armistice signing in Compiègne, France during World War I, Martell is deeply woven into the history of France.
Martell is known for its elegance and tradition. Martell cognac was served at the gala dinner to celebrate the marriage of Prince Rainier of Monaco to the US actress Grace Kelly, and was even given as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II on her first visit to France!
Brandy vs. Cognac: What’s the difference?
All cognacs are brandies, but not all brandies are cognacs. In general terms, brandy is produced by distilling wine and aged in wooden casks. Cognac is brandy that is produced in the region of Cognac, France, and follows very strict distilling procedures.
What is Martell cognac made from?
Martel cognac is made from a very specific type of white wine, which is made from grapes grown in the town of Cognac, France. The wine must be distilled in copper stills (used to heat the wine to the perfect temperature) twice and aged for a minimum of two years before being turned into cognac.
In comparison to other cognac producers, Martell is the only one to distill from exclusively clear wines (impurities have been removed) to produce what’s known as eux-de-vie, which is then used to make cognac.
A factor that determines the sweetness and floral notes of Martell’s cognac is the terroir or the actual land that the grapes are grown on. The region of Cognac is divided into six different vineyard areas. The climate of the region gives Martell’s cognac very rich aromas and smoothness.
What determines a cognac’s color?
Just like with other cask or barrel aged alcohol, cognac pulls the flavor and color from the casks that it’s stored in. The older it is, the longer the cognac has been able to pull these qualities from the cask’s wood. The darker the cognac, the older and richer it is.
By this logic, VS bottles of cognac tend to be a lighter amber when poured. XO bottles of cognac are very dark and smooth. This applies to all cognac producers, not just Martell. Martell specifically uses fine-grain oak wood, which gives their cognac a delicate woody flavor.
Some of the oldest cognacs produced by Martell have been distilling for twenty to even seventy years before being bottled and placed on the market. These older batches can be sold for a couple thousand dollars, and are often highly sought after by collectors and cognac experts.
Martell Cognac Prices
Common Martell Cognac Prices List
Martell VS Single Distillery
$26.99 - $35.99
L’OR De Jean Martell
$3397.99 - $3399.99
$34.99 - $46.99
Martell Cordon Bleu
$129.99 - $159.99
Martell Cordon Bleu Extra
$169.99 - $203.99
$169.99 - $199.99
Martell Blue Swift
$36.99 - $42.99
How does Martell cognac compare to other brands?
Since cognac can only be made in Cognac, France, there are only a few brands that have managed to establish distilleries there. Competition is incredibly fierce amongst these different cognac brands, which often reflects in their prices.
Rémy Martin Brandy
In comparison to other cognac brands like Rémy Martin, Martell brandy tends to be slightly cheaper and offer higher volumes. A bottle of Rémy Martin VSOP (375ml) can cost anywhere between $46.20 - $49.99.
Paul Masson Brandy
Paul Masson is another brand that produces brandy (but not cognac, as they are not based out of that region of France). Due to the fact that their production process doesn’t have to adhere to the strict distilling steps as Martell cognac, Paul Masson is very cheap in comparison. A 750ml bottle of Paul Masson Brandy VSOP ranges from $12.99 - $15.99.
Brandy made by Courvoisier is significantly more expensive than brandy made by Martell. A 700ml bottle of Courvoisier VSOP Exclusif can fetch a price between $89.99 - $95.99 with a proof of 80, while a bottle of Martell VSOP (750ml) usually costs about half that amount.
E&J is a brand that produces their brandy out of California, and therefore cannot be considered a cognac. Much like with Paul Masson brandy, E&J’s products are a lot cheaper when compared to Martell. A 750ml bottle of E&J Brandy typically ranges from $20.99 - $22.99.
Another cognac brand, Hennessy, is comparatively more expensive than the cognac produced by Martell. A 750ml bottle of Hennessy VS can cost anywhere between $33.99 - $38.99, while Martell only costs around $26.99 – 35.99 for the same volume of VS cognac.
Common Recipes: What should you mix with Martell cognac?
One of the great things about Martell cognac, regardless of what type you happen to purchase, is that it can be enjoyed as a standalone drink to enjoy after a meal, or mixed to create delicious cocktails. Here are a few recipes that are proven to be delicious!
Curious Sidecar Twisted
Combine all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Shake well. Strain into glass. Express orange peel and use as decoration. If you use an interestingly shaped glass for serving, this will increase the “wow” factor!
Shake and strain into coupette and garnish with red wine of your choosing. The fruitiness of the liqueur will help bring out the fruity quality of the Martell VS.
Pour ingredients into a tall glass over ice and top with a slice of lemon. This is an excellent cocktail to enjoy on a hot summer day, as it brings out equal levels of fruitiness and spice.