The term “cognac club” most often refers to a mail-order subscription program through which participants are shipped a different bottle of cognac every month or every few months over the course of a year. Cognac clubs often boast reduced prices on bottles, and sometimes sell vintages and labels that are not widely available. Joining a cognac club is usually as simple as filling out an order form, offering proof that one is of legal drinking age in the shipping address’ jurisdiction, and submitting payment.
At their core, cognac clubs are usually little more than long-term contracts for a fixed number of cognac shipments. The clubs are generally organized around these shipments. Some clubs may ship a bottle a month, for instance, while others might ship a bottle every three months, a bottle every quarter, or regular shipments of two or more bottles.
The contents can also vary. A monthly cognac club, much like the similar wine club, is usually designed as a way for subscribers to try many different types of cognac. Variety is usually a given. Some clubs focus on cognacs from a particular region or one or more specific brands of cognac. Others promise to include a certain number of vintage cognac bottles, or limit their shipments to what connoisseurs would call “fine cognac.”
Payment options vary based on the cognac club structure. The most common clubs are essentially a way of buying cognac in advance. Club subscriptions cost a certain fixed amount and include both the price of the bottles and the cost of shipping. For people who enjoy drinking cognac, these sort of pre-purchase programs can often be a way to save money. Most of the time, each bottle’s price, if broken out of the year-long total, is less than it would be if purchased independently.
Other cognac clubs take a bill-on-shipment approach. Members of these clubs often pay a flat fee to join then agree to be billed for each shipment as it arrives. A cognac club following this model will rarely publish its shipment prices. Club owners will usually set a cap — they will promise, for instance, that no shipments will total above a certain amount — but they will not disclose the total amount owed until the bottle or bottles arrive. Most of the time, membership in these clubs requires a contractual obligation to purchase whatever is sent, making this sort of club best for people who do not mind spending a significant amount of money developing their cognac palate.