Branson is a Cognac brand that's around for a few years. In 2018, Curtis Jackson released his Cognac brand with quite a social media buzz. But as with the numerous other celebrity spirits, the big question is, are these products worth their price? And can they compete with the leaders in their market?
Branson comes in four different cognac expressions: In addition to the standard VS called Phantom, there is Branson Royal, Branson VSOP, and Branson XO Cognac available. It is produced in France by Raymond Ragnaud - Maison de Cognac.
Branson Cognac Review Summary
- Produced by: Sire Spirits
- Where is it produced: Grande Champagne, France
- Released: 2018
- Product Website: Product Website
- Production Location: Grande Champagne, France
- Classification: Cognac (VS, VSOP, and XO)
- Aging: 2-3 years (Phantom), 4 years (Royal), 4-7 years (VSOP), 10 years (XO)
- ABV: Every expression contains 40% of alcohol (80 proof)
- Price: $49 (Phantom), $59 (Royal), $69 (VSOP), $250 (XO)
- Color: Copper, brown, dark orange
- Best served: Neat or chilled (XO, VSOP) or in cocktails (Phantom & Royal)
- Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Review of Branson Cognac expressions
Here are our tasting notes and comments on the different expressions of Branson Cognac. We explain in detail the differences in appearance, taste, maturation, and price.
In total, Branson Cognac has four different offerings. And each version is aged even longer than it would need to according to the regulations. Their VS bottles age up to four years, with the minimum time being two years.
The VSOP version ages up to seven years, compared to the four years required by law. And finally, the majority of the Eaux-de-Vie in the XO release matures for as long as 25 years. Legally, the minimum aging time for XO Cognac would be only ten years.
Branson Cognac has four different offerings. And each version is aged even longer than it would need to according to the regulations. Their VS bottles age up to four years, with the minimum time being two years. The VSOP version ages up to seven years, compared to the four years required by law. And finally, the majority of their XO release ages for as long as 25 years. Legally, the minimum aging time for XO Cognac would be only ten years.
Branson VS Phantom - Tasting Notes
- Age Statement: VS
- Price: $49
- Color: Light golden brown
- Aroma: Sweet, citrusy (lemon and orange), and chocolate notes
- Taste: Sweet and grape forward with hints of apples, raisins, and tobacco
- Best used: in cocktails
Phantom is probably the most classic Cognac from Branson. The grapes for this Cognac come from the Borderies and Fin Bois regions. After a pot still distillation, the resulting Cognac ages up to 4 years in French oak barrels.
Phantom is smooth but still has a noticeable burn to it. You can taste notes of French oak, citrus, tobacco, and a hint of apple.
Branson VSOP Royal - Tasting Notes
- Age Statement: VSOP
- Price: $59
- Color: Amber-golden
- Aroma: Fruity and sweet with notes of peach, caramel, and nuts
- Taste: Sweet and fruity with notes of dried fruits and nuts
- Best used: in cocktails
Bransons Royal Cognac is a blend of different Eaux-de-Vie from various vineyards in the Cognac region. The majority of the grapes grow in the Petit Champagne and Borderies regions.
Aged for a minimum of 5 years, the Cognac is a bit smoother than the Phantom. And the flavor profile includes notes of oak, vanilla, dried fruit, and nuts.
Branson VSOP - Tasting Notes
- Age Statement: VSOP
- Price: $69
- Color: Golden brown
- Aroma: Sweet banana and raisin notes with hints of tobacco
- Taste: Sweet and buttery with notes of banana, walnut, and bread pudding
- Best used: Neat or chilled
The VSOP is a true Grande Champagne Cognac. The grapes are hand-harvested and grow in the best parts of the Grande Champagne region.
After aging for up to 7 years, this Cognac develops a distinctive bright golden color. It is smooth and contains the aromas of tobacco and fruits. And its overall taste is sweet and spicy with notes of tobacco, walnut, and bread pudding.
Branson XO, Grande Champagne - Tasting Notes
- Age Statement: XO
- Price: $249
- Color: Golden brown
- Aroma: Rich, sweet, and fruity with apple, cherry, and apricot flavors and hints of baking spices
- Taste: Warm, sweet, and smooth with notes of coffee, honey, hazelnuts, roasted almonds, orange, and chocolate
- Best used: Neat or chilled
Like the VSOP version, Branson XO consists of Eaux-de-Vie from the Grande Champagne region. As required per law, the XO version ages for a minimum of 10 years.
However, the largest part of the Cognac in the blend ages significantly longer. More than 50 percent of the spirit age around 25 years, creating an extra smooth Cognac. The rich and warm flavor profile includes notes of coffee, orange zest, and honey.
What is Branson Cognac?
Branson is a premium Cognac brand held by Sire Spirits, a company owned by Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. It was released in 2018 and is available in four expressions: Phantom (VS), Royal (VSOP), VSOP, and XO. All Branson products have an alcohol content of 40% and vary in maturation and depth of flavor.
The production of Branson Cognac is a task of the Raymond Ragnaud family which operates a small vineyard in the Grande Champagne region of France. The family has owned vineyards in the Grande Champagne since the 1860s. They now produce Cognac in the 5th generation and have released some excellent bottles over the years.
The grapes the Ragnaud family uses in their products are mainly Ugni-Blanc and Folle Blanche. And so, it only makes sense that the Branson Cognac is made with Ugni Blanc. These grapes are sourced and hand-harvested exclusively in the Grande Champagne region.
They then get distilled in an old pot still from the 1800s and age in the finest Sessile Oak casks, some over 50 years old. Due to complying with all these quality standards, you can also see that Branson Cognac uses the addition of Grande Champagne in their product names.
Who owns Branson Cognac?
The owner of Branson Cognac is Sire Spirits, a company that belongs to Curtis Jackson. It was founded in 2017 and also owns a Champagne brand named Le Chemin du Roi. Sire Spirits is owned 100% by Curtis, which means he is the sole owner and operator of both brands.
The best ways to drink Branson
Branson Phantom and Royale are best served in cocktails or with a mixer. However, Branson VSOP is excellent to drink neat or chilled by serving it on the rocks. The XO expression should not be mixed or chilled and is best when consumed at room temperature. That allows the spirit to expand its full array of flavors, developing a rich and warm taste.
Branson Cognac Cocktails
Bransom Phantom and Royal are both great ingredients in classic Cognac cocktails. Use Phantom for a fresher taste and Royal when you need more depth and warmth. Here are some excellent cocktails to make with Branson Cognac:
How much does Branson Cognac cost?
The price for Branson Cognac depends on the expression and ranges between $49 and $249. Here's a quick overview:
- Branson Phantom - $49
- Branson Royal - $59
- Branson VSOP - $69
- Branson XO - $249
The story of 50 Cent producing Cognac started in 2017. In July 2017, he went to visit the Cognac region to find and negotiate with potential partners. The media had no idea and thought he made a little trip there out of private interest -to learn more about the spirit and the production in general.
But about a year later, 50 Cent announced via social media that he partnered with Branson Cognac. Others might have preferred a press release, but Curtis being Curtis, announced it on his social accounts. A clever marketing tactic that brought up some viral posts creating quite some anticipation amongst his followers.
Then, in 2019, he released a post revealing being the mastermind behind Branson. In a post showing a couple of bottles of Branson Cognac as well as a Rémy Martin Louis XIII, he stated “What you thought l was doing in France fool. l went to get the work, l got da plug, get wit me."
And for those of you who saw the post: The Rémy Martin bottle in his photo was especially interesting because his Branson XO bottle looks strikingly similar. So similar that Rémy Martin has initiated legal action.
Remy Martin sues Branson Cognac
Looking at the two bottles of Branson XO and the popular Rémy Martin XO, you cannot help but see the similarities. And as Rémy Martin XO Cognac is the second best-selling XO Cognac in the US, they feel that Branson tried to copy the design to benefit from their reputation. According to this Reuters release, this was reason enough for Rémy Martin to Sue Sire Spirits, the brand selling the Branson Cognac. In response, Curtis filed a motion on behalf of his company. So far, there is no news about any possible outcome, but time will tell.
Sire Spirits filed the motion to dismiss the lawsuit on October 18th, 2021. In an interview, Sire's attorney states that “Rémy Martin must be stopped, and the claims against Sire Spirits should not be allowed to survive.” He further explains that the bottle design is way more common than Rémy Martin thinks. And because of that “No brand or company has the right to exclude others from making or selling a curved bottle for Cognac or other alcohol,”.
In January 2022, the trademark claims by Rémy Martin were dismissed. Although they included detailed descriptions and hand-drawn images they failed to clearly and separately identify the elements of its claimed trade dress. Therefore the claims were dismissed with leave to replead.
Branson Cognac is produced by Sire Spirits, a company owned by Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. The actual Cognac is made by Raymond Ragnaud, a family producing Cognac in the Grande Champagne region in the 5th generation.
It might not be the best Cognac out there, but Branson Cognac is of solid quality. Our favorite is the XO expression, however, the VSOP has a significantly better cost-benefit ratio.
Branson is made in the Grande Champagne region of France by Raymond Ragnaud's family.
Branson Cognac is another celebrity spirit owned by Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent. It might not be as good or successful as D'Ussé, Hennessy, or Rémy Martin, but it offers solid value for money.
Celebrity releases of spirits are nothing new. In the past couple of years, there were plenty of successful celebrity releases like Teremana Tequila from the Rock or Dos Hombres Mezcal by Bryan Cranston& Aaron Paul.