The trademark of Hardy Cognacs is the soft, smooth mouthfeel, and this well-aged XO ticks all the boxes with a deep, rich colour, aromas of rose petals, dates and cigar box, along with cinnamon, cloves and raisins.
Honeyed, nutty, brown sugar flavours, with subtle floral notes, and sweet chocolate. The nose is wonderfully rich, and there are notes of rose petals, dates and cigar box. In addition, the nose has cinnamon, cloves and raisins, as well as a touch of not unpleasant turpentine. Aromas of vanilla and chocolate hide behind the more floral and richer, earthy aromas.
On the palate, the cognac wine notes pop, bursting with a sweet and fresh aroma. The wine, like the nose, is also nutty, with notes of leather, sweat, and dry leaves. The vanilla and chocolate notes return and sit prominently alongside the wine, with a slightly burnt note dominating the palate.
The finish is initially sweet with wafts of soft fruits, apple and pear, and red fruits, and is not unpleasant. The brandy then returns to provide a solid dry finish with the vanilla, chocolate and cigar box notes, bringing the cognac to a pleasantly dry finish.
Enjoy this cognac with a cigar, a coffee or bitter chocolate, but we also recommend pairing with a good espresso. This cognac is also excellent as a digestive drink, and complements the oak notes and fruit character of the cognac with an apple and pear fruitiness. It also makes an excellent accompaniment to fruit that is ripe and sweet, such as pears and apples.
Hardy XO Fine Champagne Cognac is bottled at 40% only. Each bottle contains 375ml, which is unique to Hardy Cognacs. The recommended serving as detailed above allows the aromas and flavours to be enjoyed.
The true delight of Hardy XO is that you can go all different directions with it: from what you pair it with to what you do with the cognac in terms of proportions. For example, it’s ideal to enjoy this cognac neat, as a digestif, or as a ‘cognac brandy’, but can work when mixed in drinks such as an apple or pear Martini or Manhattan, or as a substitute for bourbon in a Manhattan. It is unique in the sense that it is complex with lots of fruity character, without the bitterness, and most importantly, without the burn. For example, when mixing it in a drink, the fruit notes in the cognac help to mask the alcohol burn, and add some subtle flavour in terms of depth, such as vanilla, or even a whiskey flavour.
The cognac is also excellent when enjoyed with a cigar, with its sweetness perfectly matching the sweetness of a good cigar, and the subtle fruitiness matching that of a good tobacco flavour with hints of wood and leather. This is also excellent as a digestif along with a cigar, with its sweeter notes balancing out the cigar’s bitterness. Some of you may even feel inclined to enjoy this cognac with dessert, and for good reason based on the subtle wine notes, sweeter notes, and the fruitiness of the cognac. Really, this cognac goes well with whatever you want. It’s relaxing to enjoy neat, and even better to pair with at least one of your favourite things.
What we love, and we’re not alone in this sentiment, is that this cognac provides a rich, woody, complex, wine character yet doesn’t burn the palate nor taste cheap. Most importantly, the cognac is smooth. It is complex, yet delicious, rich, yet smooth, and dusts the palate with subtle nutty and fruit flavours, leaving a solid dry finish. This cognac is well-rounded, without any harshness. There is no harsh marzipan, nor does the cognac taste of burnt nose hairs. While it is not the cheapest at £69.99, considering its rarity and quality, it is a well-value product and a great buy.
As a connoisseur of cognac, we enjoyed this brandy, and awarded it a 4/5. While the cognac is certainly not perfect.