A Chinese woman reportedly downed a full bottle of XO cognac at a Beijing airport security control after being told that she could not take it on board. Staff told her she was not allowed to carry the bottle in her hand luggage because it exceeded the 100ml limit and so, not wanting to waste the purchase, she apparently drank the entire contents. This did not seem to help her cause any as she was then deemed too drunk to board the flight. But looking on the plus side, at least she was probably too inebriated to taste most of it!
A hindrance to the premium cognac market?
The owner of Bargain Booze, one of the UK’s largest off licence chains, is moving into the On Trade business with its recent purchase of Matthew Clark. Bargain Booze is renowned for its cut price alcohol brands and has recently taken on Aldi in the direct comparison advertising stakes. They have clearly set out to dominate the cheaper end of the alcohol market. Matthew Clark has also had its cut price strategies providing cheap blended cognacs and spirits to the On Trade free of charge with accompanying orders. Whilst very appealing to the recipients this is very disappointing for the customers who are looking for luxury cognacs with individuality. It is little wonder that so many good quality cognacs are being (mis)guided into the mixer market and now sadly, as a result of this takeover, there will be even more inexperienced cognac distributors selling what is a very complex product.
Take a look at these luxury cognacs that should never be wasted in a cocktail!
Guinness Book of Records Entry - Was is a Fake?
A cocktail made in an Australian casino using 1858 Croizet Cognac was sold for £8,200 - earning it a place in The Guinness Book of Records. Just prior to purchase, a $32M heist involving the original client, prohibited him from completing the transaction. Desperately wanting the Record to be authorised, another casino regular was persuaded to stump up the cash on the understanding that it would be paid back afterwards! So now the PR melee surrounding the Record has been replaced with one suggesting it is all a fake. Extreme lengths to go to for a bit of publicity but more importantly, what were they doing putting 1858 cognac into a cocktail anyway? Read more about these pre-Phylloxera cognacs here.
Strange, in our last edition we commented how attitudes had changed in the Charente vineyards as the wet and cold weather had changed to warm and dry. We went from doom and gloom to great optimism and indeed the current news on the harvest is that it will beat last year’s whopping 770,000 hl pure alcohol. Many are predicting that it will exceed 800,000 hectolitres of pure alcohol or 112 million bottles at 40%. So far so good but there is a problem. It seems that the markets, especially those in the Far East and Russia, have not increased and some have dropped in their purchases of cognac. Now we have more than we can sell and the growers are worried that the big houses will not buy their cognacs. Guess what, its doom and gloom again over there!
Read more cognac industry news on our blog.
The William Grant & Sons Market Report looks closely at changing consumer habits following the recession and concludes that “Value is much more than just value for money; it is now measured as the value that the brand, product or service can provide the consumer.” The marketing director goes on to surmise that “The market is more polarised than ever and it is premium brands that can really take advantage of this trend.” The value of premium spirits sold in the UK has increased by 14% this year which is five times more than the total spirits market. The consumer is becoming more discerning, consciously choosing how to spend his disposable income rather than cost-cutting across the board. Premium brands, like Hermitage Cognacs, that offer excellent quality with value for money are what the customer seeks. Compare our quality and price with the competition, you will be pleasantly surprised. Hermitage 1999 Grande Champagne Cognac retails for only £45.54 - try it and see.
Another great year at The Spirits Business Awards for Hermitage Cognacs as all four of our entrants were awarded GOLD medals. Hermitage Provenance Grande Champagne 6 Year Old, 20 Year Old and 30 Year Old produced specifically for the export market all proved their worth. In our ever growing premier collection, one of our latest vintage releases, Hermitage Chez Richon 2005 Grande Champagne was the fourth highly successful cognac. Following on from our COGNAC GRAND MASTER AWARD 2014, this news could hardly have been better. You can see the whole Hermitage range here.
The firm A E Dor has been sold to the Cognac co-operative, Uni-Cognac, for an undisclosed sum. We understand that Uni-Cognac are keen to move into the Far East market and regard the Jarnac based firm of Dor as a significant name in the industry.
The firm had a number of owners including a relative, we believe the brother, of the French President Franҫois Mitterrand before it was bought by Odile and Jacques Riviere. Odile ran the firm and was highly regarded in the industry as a gifted blender. She became one of the five best female blenders in the industry. Sadly Odile died in a motoring accident and Jacques was at a loss as to what to do with the firm as his knowledge was not in the same league as his wife’s. He offered the management to his daughter, a pharmacist, but she wasn’t interested and eventually his son, Pierre Antoine took on the management. Pierre knows little of the industry and sadly, the quality of the cognacs from the house have deteriorated.
A quarter of a century ago Brandyclassics took on the distribution of A.E.Dor Cognacs. As generic blends of their day they were highly regarded and their old Paradis is still one of the most famous cellars in the industry with its many bonbonnes of old pre-Phylloxera cognac. Now they have been sold to a co-operative, Odile will be turning in her grave.
We still stock a few of the best A.E.Dor cognacs, have a browse here.
If you’re visiting south west France this summer then why not take a trip to the Cognac region? Steeped in history it has lots of beautiful and interesting places to visit and things to do. Here are our top 5 suggestions:
- Stroll around the medieval quarter of Cognac. It is like going back in time as many of the buildings were inhabited by the early cognac merchants.
- Take a boat trip down the Charente. The river plays a vital role in the cognac region’s success.
- Visit a small cognac house. For a more intimate insight into the cognac production process.
- Picnic in the vineyards. Take to the countryside, find a secluded spot and drink in the scenery.
- Visit the Musee des Arts du Cognac. Located in the heart of Old Cognac, discover why cognac has become a way of life for some and a much revered drink for others.
And if you find yourself in the heart of Grande Champagne you might come across our French offices, SARL Hermitage based in a pretty little village called Segonzac.
Read more about the Cognac region in our quarterly reports - The Charente Scene.
At last some good news for the cognac industry which has been hit hard in recent years. Rabobank’s Q3 Spirit Report states that the first couple of months of 2015 have been a ‘little more upbeat’. “Asian markets finally saw a lift because of the Chinese New Year, starting a turnaround from the tough market conditions over the past two years” said a senior analyst. The positive momentum gained has also impacted on other Asian markets, especially emerging ones such as Vietnam and Malaysia. New opportunities for cognac sales are springing up in other regions too. Some sub-Saharan countries are seeing significant economic growth which is opening up new commercial opportunities and in North America, volume sales rose by 12.2% last year. This strong performance firms up the US’s position as the number one export market for cognac, taking 59.9 million bottles. An ongoing rise in demand for brown spirits in the US will create yet more opportunities so the quantity imported is expected to grow significantly this year. We have certainly noticed an increase in online sales to the US here at Brandyclassics - take a look at what we have on offer.
Almost 30% of all beer, wine and spirit sales in the UK were bought on line in the first quarter of this year - the highest growth since the end of 2010. In the wine sector it was reported that global online sales have increased 600% over the last 7 years. Some countries are already ahead of the curve in terms of customers embracing the buying of wine over the internet. In the UK for example, off-trade sales already account for 11% of the market annually, this is 20% in China and just 4% in the US. The British public certainly seem keen to keep broadening their online shopping experiences. Here at Brandyclassics we have seen a 40% increase increase in online sales over the last 12 months. With the level of expansion in alcohol online sales so far this year being double that seen during the same period in 2012, one has to assume that an upturn in the economy may also be contributing to recent results. Customers with more money in their pockets must be good news all round! Take a look at our online shop here.