Review: White X Cognac Is A Luxury Spirit For All

White X Cognac bottle
White X Cognac bottle - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

There's something about the word Cognac that summons a vivid picture in our minds. For some, a dimly lit room filled with older men, cigar smoke, and dark brown liquid swirling methodically in large brandy snifters. For others, the high-end nightclub and expensive bottle service life, complete with flashing lights and chest-pumping bass. However you envision the Cognac types of yore, White X Cognac wants you to forget it.

In partnership with Grammy-nominated artist and entrepreneur Quavo, White X Cognac is the newest spirit from the Sazerac Company, a spirits producer known primarily for its extensive portfolio of American whiskeys, like Buffalo Trace and Blanton's Bourbon, among many others. A modern take on the spirit, White X is one of the few white Cognacs available in the U.S. market, as most are typically found in the Caribbean and brought back to the States duty free. Now, Cognac drinkers can partake in this often-sought-after spirit, without having to buy a plane ticket to do so.

I had the opportunity in early June 2024 to taste White X Cognac at an industry event in New York City, which gave me a chance to try a spirit that I typically don't consume. Now that I've tried it for myself, I look forward to seeing how bartenders and Cognac drinkers alike will take advantage of this unique and versatile spirit.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

What Is White X Cognac?

White X Cognac bottle, table
White X Cognac bottle, table - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

"What I love about White X Cognac is that it's an entirely different drink experience than any other type of Cognac," said Quavo in a press release for the spirit. And he's right; White X Cognac is one of the first of its kind available in the United States. Made with 99% ugni blanc grapes from the Grande Champagne region of Cognac in France, White X is more of a focus on the juice in the barrel, rather than the aging.

Then, there's the name. White refers to the aging, or lack thereof, not the color of the spirit. According to Ben Carrington, brand representative for White X, this Cognac matures for two years, which is the minimum time allowed to be considered Cognac. Right on the cusp of Cognac and unaged eau-de-vie, White X doesn't take on as much flavor from the wood aging as a VS, VSOP, XO, or XXO Cognac would. While the more traditional Cognac brands boast several years of barrel aging, taking on the wood aging characteristics that make them so recognizable, White X ages for a fraction of the time.

Additionally, White X is designed to be comfortably embedded in culture as a spirit that can be enjoyed by anyone, whether at a club or a cocktail bar — which is why Sazerac chose to partner with Quavo. According to Jessica Scheerhorn, vice president at Sazerac, Quavo's entrepreneurial spirit and expertise in culture setting made him the ideal celebrity partner.

Availability And Cost Of White X Cognac

White X Cognac, light box
White X Cognac, light box - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

White X Cognac made its grand entrance during a pre-release launch on BlockBar in February 2024 — the first 100 bottles ever produced reportedly sold out in less than an hour, according to a press release from the brand — and a roll-out distribution in select markets in the spring. In Atlanta, Quavo's hometown, he brought the bottle to several bar and nightclub appearances to get the word out, tantalizing fans and friends with the new spirit. Throughout the United States, White X is now available in bars, clubs, restaurants, and retail stores.

Because of Cognac's more upscale and fashionable reputation in the U.S. market, the price tags for the more reputable brands tend to be on the higher side. A bottle of Rémy Martin XO retails for about $219, while a far rarer and more sought-after bottle of Louis XIII Cognac is available for $4,440. Bucking norms in more ways than one, the 750-milliliter bottle of White X goes for around $59.99 (depending on location), which for a Cognac is certainly in the more-affordable column. Marketed as a luxury spirit with a mid-shelf price tag, White X is ultimately a more approachable Cognac that's meant to be enjoyed anywhere, anytime.

How To Drink White X Cognac

Rocket power cocktails
Rocket power cocktails - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

"The only thing I've ever seen Cognac mixed with is that blue stuff, or cranberry juice," said Ben Carrington at a launch event for White X in New York City in June. The "blue stuff," it's safe to assume, is Hpnotiq — a low ABV spirit made with fruit juice, vodka, and Cognac. Ultimately, by mixing heavily aged, strongly flavored Cognacs with something high in sugar, like Hpnotiq or cloyingly sweet fruit juice, the flavor of the spirit itself is masked. With White X, the brand is attempting to show that it can be enjoyed in a cocktail, or all on its own.

That said, White X is a mixable Cognac. Unlike other Cognacs, it benefits from mixers that are more tart or sour as opposed to sweet. At the New York City launch event, attendees were treated to a White X cocktail called Rocket Power, which was essentially a twist on a classic sidecar. Made with White X, Gran Gala orange liqueur, and lemon juice, it was served in a sugar-rimmed coupe glass for something zesty and citrus-forward that accentuated the subtle sweetness and ripe fruit flavors of the Cognac.

Alternatively, for the neat spirit drinkers, White X is perfectly enjoyable all on its own, especially if you ask Quavo himself. "I like to drink it neat, sometimes chilled," said Quavo at the New York City event. "... You don't need to add too much to it because it's not so strong. Drink it straight."

How Is White X Cognac Made?

White X Cognac bottle, glasses
White X Cognac bottle, glasses - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

Cognac has a rich history in France as one of the most well-known members of the brandy category of spirits. And just like Champagne, which can only be called that if it's made in the Champagne region, Cognac can only be called Cognac if it's made from grapes in any of the six Cognac regions, or crus. And no matter what type of Cognac it is, whether it's the most expensive one at the liquor store or the under-$20 bottle, it's made using grapes from this small but famous section of rolling hills and vineyards in France.

At the Sazerac distillery in Cognac, White X is made using ugni blanc grapes from the Grande Champagne region, as mentioned. According to Sazerac, the exact recipe and production methods for making White X is proprietary information. However, based on how Cognac is traditionally produced, we can infer that it is twice distilled in copper pot stills, as legally required. It is then aged for two years in oak barrels, just long enough to be legally considered Cognac. As Ben Carrington noted, it is at this point that White X is bottled like any young Cognac, extracting just enough tannins from the barrel to soften the spirit without taking on too much woody quality.

Taste Test

Taste testing White X Cognac
Taste testing White X Cognac - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

White X is undoubtedly a Cognac; it's made in Cognac and, as far as we know, is distilled in the traditional style. But flavor-wise, it lives in a category of its own. In the glass, the color is light and straw-like, with a slightly golden hue. It's got some weight to it; give it a few gentle swirls in the glass, and you'll see it slowly make its way back down, almost molasses-like. On the nose, White X is delicate. It's fresh and a touch sweet, with notes of vanilla, white chocolate, and ripe stone fruit.

On the palate, White X is an invigorating spirit unlike any Cognac I've ever had before. It's slightly floral and fruit-forward, with a mix of vanilla, cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. Subtle notes of ripe peaches and white pears come through, especially after a splash of water in the glass opens up the rich, bright bouquet of flavors. It's got a slightly creamy texture and a smooth finish that lingers for a few moments.

Most notably, unlike most heavily aged Cognacs that can end up tasting overly oaky and astringent, White X is a far gentler, more flavorful sip. It emphasizes the sweet, fruity flavors of the juice rather than the barrel. I found myself going back for sip after sip, wondering when I would find it monotonous and overpowering. I never did.

White X Cognac Vs. Hennessy Henny White Cognac

White X Cognac bottle, tasting
White X Cognac bottle, tasting - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

While White X is certainly a special spirit on the Cognac market, it's not the only one of its kind. There are some, albeit a select few, white Cognacs available in the U.S. To get a better idea for how White X stands up against a similar product, we took a look at it side-by-side with Hennessy Henny White Cognac.

Starting with the grapes, White X and Henny White differ. White X uses grapes from the Grande Champagne cru, while Henny White uses grapes from Fins Bois cru. In the glass, these two spirits find common ground. Like White X, Henny White isn't actually a "white" spirit; it does take on a slightly golden tone from time spent barrel aging. The flavor profiles are also similar, with both able to boast a light, fresh flavor with floral undertones and sweet, ripe fruit throughout.

The most notable, albeit minimal, difference between these two spirits is the price point. While Henny White retails for about $80, White X is at a slightly less expensive $59.99. Hennessy does have the name recognition in the Cognac market, which can attract habitual Cognac drinkers looking to add a white varietal to their personal liquor portfolio. However, Sazerac is an equally powerful name in the spirits world — and for those who trust Sazerac to produce something that can stand up to the rest of its portfolio, White X is an excellent choice.

Is White X Cognac Worth It?

White X Cognac cocktail
White X Cognac cocktail - Sara Kay/Tasting Table

Traditional Cognac isn't for everyone — some view it as a spirit meant exclusively for the nightclub crowd, while others associate it with the expensive after-dinner drinks of our grandparents and great-grandparents before them. In an attempt to make a seemingly exclusive spirit more inclusive, White X Cognac is doing its best to appeal to any and every type of consumer, from the groups who thrive on bottle service at the club to those who simply want something light and fresh to mix into a cocktail. White X is approachable, easy drinking — and with a more affordable price tag than other luxury Cognac brands, it is able to appeal to an even larger consumer base.

Regarding flavor and overall drinkability, White X deserves a spot in the worth-it column. While the idea of drinking Cognac regularly does give me pause — I'm not a habitual Cognac drinker, although I do love an after-dinner sip or two if I'm feeling particularly fancy — this is almost like the non-Cognac drinkers' Cognac. It's refreshing and just a little sweet, and mixes beautifully in any number of simple cocktails, from an old fashioned to a classic frozen margarita, or with nothing more than a healthy splash of soda water.

Quavo refers to White X as a "reward for the hustle." And in a life that can be filled with tumult and grind as well as moments of pure celebration, I can't help but raise a glass and agree.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.