Learn the different aging systems. Brandy is processed in a slow and gentle manner to bring out all its flavors and is traditionally aged in oak barrels. There are different aging systems and categorizations for different kinds of brandy. General aging labels can include AC, VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Special Old Pale), XO (Extra Old), Hors d’age and vintage but these vary greatly for different types of brandy.
VS (Very Special) has been aged a minimum of two years. These are best used for mixing as opposed to drinking neat.
VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) brandy is usually between 4 and a half to six years old.
XO (Extra Old) brandy are usually six and a half years old or more.
Hors d’age brandies are too old to determine the age of for some reason or another.
For some brandies these labels are regulated while for others they are not.
-- Rhonda M. May