The classification for XO Cognac will change from six years old to a 10-year minimum from April 1st 2018 according to a statement from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).
The statement explains that the new classification is designed to “align the regulation and the market reality, and also to extend the quality positioning of XO (XO covering ‘Out of Age’, ‘Extra’, ‘Ancestral’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Imperial’ designations as well).”
The idea to change the classification for XO was first raised back in 2011. However, the BNIC stalled on implementing the new rule in order to allow brands to adapt to the change. The BNIC also noted that many brands were already using 10-year-old eaux-de-vie for their XOs.
In the case of any producer who has still not sold through its stocks of younger XO, any spirits classified as XO bottled by 31 March (though not yet shipped) that contain spirit of six, seven, eight or nine years will be allowed to be sold until 31 March 2019. Such producers wishing to take advantage of this, however, will have to make a declaration to the BNIC. The declaration will be matched with matching predesignated BNIC rules concerning packaging.
The expression XO was used for the first time in 1870. An XO Cognac can also be called “Napoleon” or “Old Reserve.” The designation of ‘Napoleon’ Cognac will remain unchanged with the minimum required age of the spirit used being six years.