Commonly known as ‘Duty Free’, the Travel Retail Sector has long been the testing ground for new brandy releases - presumably travelling customers are more adventurous than those shopping from home? Often it is the packaging that is markedly different; the big houses like to involve famous artists in their limited edition, presentation designs. Just recently though, we have seen a real change in approach from some of the smaller houses. Prunier, one of the oldest independent cognac houses, has just released The Age Statement Collection. It comprises 8 guaranteed age cognacs, from 10 to 80 years old. Prunier’s President said “Our commitment is to offer the most natural cognacs with no artificial colouring, no sugar and no added wood extract. We are a very small company and perhaps make our cognac in old-fashioned ways, but we have a lot of experience in age statements and vintages and believe in being different.” We could not have put that better ourselves! It’s good to see another quality cognac house following in Hermitage’s footsteps, even if their price range of 130€ – 6999€ seems rather steep to us.
Another new Duty Free product comes from William Grant & Sons who have, for the first time, released a range of cognacs. They have teamed up with La Guilde du Cognac to produce a terroir driven collection. Called the Single Village Collection, each bottle is in fact a vintage with the village of origin and cru designated on the label. Clearly, William Grant’s have, like Hermitage, recognised the increasing desire of customers to know exactly what is in their bottle of cognac rather than accepting a generic blend. The marketing is clever using a new expression ‘single village’ to describe the purity of its product and it is interesting that 4 of the cognac crus, rather than just the top 2, have been represented. And it is not just cognac that is testing the Travel Retail Sector. Calvados producers 30&40 have also created a new range of limited edition, single cask, products. Each is described by its cru and age meaning that they are all calvados fermier - spirits made entirely by a single farmer. We are delighted to see the travel retail market moving in this direction. Numbers on bottles has been our mantra for over a quarter of a century.