When I began drinking liquor, it was cognac upon which I cut my teeth. Sure, I’d tried scotch (to no real avail), and tippled the occasional rye. But it wasn’t until my tongue alighted on the sweet, rich nectar of this exclusive French brandy that I decided I was a liquor lover after all.

My first experience was with Remy Martin VSOP, one of the most legendary brands, and also one of the most expensive. I have no beef with Remy, it’s damn good stuff. But at almost $90 for 750ml, it’s asking quite a bit of the consumer. Generally, when you’re drinking cognac, you’re not exactly going to be miserly. Yet, if you could get equivalent (or better) quality for cheaper, wouldn’t you? Baron Otard VSOP Cognac, coming in at around $75┬áprovides just this for cognac drinkers.

Some brandies are medicinal in their retched sweetness. Cognacs are generally preferable for me, because they tend to exhibit more complex fruit and spice notes, with even a pleasant hint of smoke to ameliorate the potent sweetness. Yet, few do it so good as Otard.

It welcomes you with a bright floral fragrance and a kick of orange peel on the nose. Despite bearing the same alcohol content as Remy, the fumes seem somewhat more reserved when you bring your nose to the snifter. The colour is absolutely gorgeous to look at, a deep orange-amber that is one of the hallmarks of a good cognac. All of this is carried forward in Otard’s beautiful flavours: Fresh orange juice, lilies, and honey are all amalgamated by a kick of black pepper. It’s startlingly complex for any beverage, let alone a “budget” cognac.

No matter what your buying, it’s important to maximize your value. Frankly put, if your shopping for VSOP cognac, you’re probably not hard-up for cash. But if you want to get the most bang for your buck, Baron Otard VSOP will provide it. Just don’t let its cheaper price tag fool you: This is definitely one beverage you’re going to want to sip slow.

On that note, check out my Sublime Imbibing post about another good cognac moment here.