Cognac VS tasting notes 2

Cognac vs V.S, the Big Match

Five classic V.S : Camus, Courvoisier, Frapin, Hennessy and Martell. Let’s go into this big cognac VS match !
Cognac VS tasting notes



Among the best sellers in the cognac world on the table. Young products, 3 out of 5 from the Big Four (Hennessy, Martell, Courvoisier, and Rémy Martin). All listed for sale on various websites around 35€ for 70cl. Well, I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I hardly think it needs to be done as I aim to review every kind of cognac for, from the youngest to…well, the paradise! So here we go for this crucial comparison.


  • Camus VS: Gold with olive lights. Small irregular tears
  • Courvoisier VS: Gold, olive lights. Small regular tears
  • Frapin VS: Old Gold. Medium tears
  • Hennessy VS: Orange, olive lights. Heavy irregular tears
  • Martell VS: Gold with brown light. Medium irregular tears

Well, VS is supposed to mean 2yo at least. So these five cognacs are way older or it isn’t their natural color? I think you probably know the answer. 


  • Camus VS: Very citrusy and acidic. Dusty nuts. A little of hazelnut cream. Freshly cut wood. Maple syrup and cider apple on final notes.
  • Courvoisier VS: Focused on the caramel. Salted butter caramel/caramel syrup. Light touch of cider apple. Alcohol on final smells.
  • Frapin VS: Hazelnut cream. Old cardboard. Then more pleasant with young pears. A very little of honey. Peach syrup and few pastry scents for final notes. 
  • Hennessy VS: Fresh lemon juice. Very sugary apricot jam. Hints of honey and hazelnuts. Apple crumble. Syrupy scents. Little pastry notes. Alcohol on final smells.  
  • Martell VS: Dry chestnut. Overripe apple. A little acidic. Cider apple. Acacia honey. Linseed oil. 

The Frapin VS is maybe the more convincing for the nose part. The others aren’t very appealing. Let’s give them a chance with the palate.  


  • Camus VS: Light texture (watery). Cardboard. Sanded wood. Pinesap. Simple syrup. Very acidic aromas. It ends very quickly. A little of apple juice on final notes. 
  • Courvoisier VS: Light texture, a bit syrupy. Simple Syrup. Tinned pears. Caramel syrup. It ends very quickly. 
  • Frapin VS: Light texture (watery). Fresh lemon juice. Chestnut dust. A little gluey and cardboard-y. A tad of roundness on final notes, something like apple syrup. 
  • Hennessy VS: Sweet texture. Candied lemon. Maple syrup. Maybe too sugary to be appreciated to its fullest.
  • Martell VS: Watery texture.  Slight notes of apple crumble. A dash of white pepper and…nothing. As short as its age statement.

Some fake beauties, some almost tasteless eaux-de-vie. But this is my duty, I have to do this cognac VS match. Last chance with the last notes. 

Last Notes

  • Camus VS: Almond paste. Sanded wood. Grape juice. Green lemon zest. That’s all.
  • Courvoisier VS: Apple syrup. Caramel syrup. Licorice. Sugar and sugar again. A little of hazelnuts and bread dough. It ends on acidic notes with fresh lemon juice. 
  • Frapin VS: Chestnut cream. A great dash of vanilla. Orange zest. Ending on maple syrup and prunes juice.  
  • Hennessy VS: Apple syrup. Cinnamon. Vanilla cream. Candied lemon. Very citrusy aftertaste. 
  • Martell VS: Cider apple. Caramelized nuts. Cardboard and cellulose. And…nothing. 

The Frapin VS is still the more convincing after the whole tasting session. The Hennessy VS and the Courvoisier VS are surprisingly almost acceptable on the palate, even if they’re not very natural as their sugariness tends to prove. Concerning the Camus VS and the Martell VS, my opinion is that they have the name cognac, they taste a little like cognac and that’s all. 

My very subjective notes (/100):

  • Camus VS: 71
  • Courvoisier VS: 72
  • Frapin VS: 73+
  • Hennessy VS: 72+
  • Martell VS: 71

I could have stopped my comparative tasting session here, but I came up with an interesting idea. As it’s one of the most widespread ways of drinking cognac (especially for a cognac VS), I thought about adding tonic to these. Just 1,5cl for each (as I poured 2cl of each VS), the right amount of dilution to exhaust all the flavors and keep the original DNA of each cognac. I used the most common and one the less aromatic tonic for this test (as you’ll see with the picture below the following tasting notes).

With 1,5cl of tonic

  • Camus VS: Walnuts, vanilla cream, and earl grey tea for the nose. The palate now. Orange zest, tinned pears. Simple syrup. Fresh lemon juice. It’s better than neat. Acceptable. 
  • Courvoisier VS: Still on the caramel. Honey too. Few floral notes and almond pear complete the nose. Vanilla sweet, orange juice, and almond paste for the palate. A pleasant bitterness with orange zest on the aftertaste. A good one for cocktails, maybe less efficient than a Vallein Tercinier VS
  • Frapin VS: Roasted almonds. Pistachio. Chestnuts. Caramel. An enthusiast nose. Let’s see the palate’s answer. Dry chestnuts. Grapefruit juice. Dry prunes. Hints of fruits to finish. Very efficient. It works. 
  • Hennessy VS: Raisins, quinces, caramel. Pleasant nose. Hints of apple syrup too. The palate now. Prunes cake. Raisins again. Green lemon juice. A little of pastry notes. Well, it’s as if this cognac was made to be diluted with tonic. Way more convincing than the neat tasting part. Like the Courvoisier, maybe a little less efficient than the Vallein Tercinier VS, but it does the job for sure. 
  • Martell VS: Apple cake, vanilla stick. A little of pastry notes. Green lemon zest. A shy nose. Cider apple. Cardboard. A little too acidic. The palate is on the same level. It’s weak. I know, it’s a cognac VS. But comparing to the others, it’s clearly the less interesting.
Cognac VS notes (very subjective and just for fun) with 1,5cl of tonic (/100): 
  • Camus VS74+
  • Courvoisier VS77+
  • Frapin VS77
  • Hennessy VS78+
  • Martell VS73

If you want to try this “cognac VS” experience by yourself

Next round: the VSOP big match!


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