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  • Increase in duty on all cognac, brandy and calvados

    The Chancellor announced yesterday an increase in duty on all spirits, taking the level up to £25 a litre of pure alcohol. This equates to £7 a bottle at 40% alc. This means for an average bottle of cognac costing £30, more than £16.50 goes on duty and tax. And don’t forget that Vat is also charged on the total of the spirits value and the duty combined - in effect double taxing the consumer.

    Under the new duty increase, Hermitage Cognacs will in future sadly have to cost more, adding nearly one pound to an average bottle of cognac. Brandyclassics still have some stocks of our Hermitage Cognacs available at the old level of duty, so please visit our online store add buy now before prices go up.


  • Big Growth in 2010 for Cognac Sales

    It seems that the onward march of cognac is continuing. Despite the recession sales of cognac on a worldwide basis are only 5 million bottles short of the 2007 world record year. Indeed, volume sales were up 18% on the year to 153.1 million bottles, according to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

    In value terms the increase was even more startling - with the value increasing 30% to €1.86 billion. It appears that the key driver was the Far East, where we have been seeing substantial increases over the last five years. Shipments to the region increased by 34% on 2009 to 50.9 million bottles. China lead the way with sales rising by 55% to 18.8 million bottles. Shipments to America increased by 7.5% to 49.2 million bottles, closing in on the 2007 record of in excess of 50 million bottles. European sales also increased in 2010, with an 11.7% increase to 46.7 million bottles. The UK is by far the biggest consumer of cognac in Europe with more than 23%.

    Interestingly, the higher qualities cognacs provided most of the growth. For the first time the luxury qualities exceeded the regular qualities with sales of 54.5% and growing faster than the VS markets at 6%.

    It seems that consumers are becoming more discerning in the cognac that they buy, which here at Brandyclassics we're very excited about. We don't sell generic supermarket VS, VSOP and XO brands, but concentrate on sourcing and supplying distinctive, unique marques for the cognac enthusiast.

  • Exclusive to Brandyclassics, Clos des Saveurs armagnac

    It is rare for us to get excited about a new armagnac but we feel rightly pleased with our new association with Eric Artiguelongue a notable cellar master in Arblade le Haut, Gers.

    Brandyclassics have taken the exclusive distribution for these wonderful Clos des Saveurs armagnacs in the United Kingdom where we will be demonstrating the fine qualities and range of vintages which come from a number of different distillers in the Bas region. Not only are we impressed with the qualities of each individual vintage, but we were also able to bottle them in the traditional basquaise bottle, sealed with red wax. Presentation boxes are also available and a new oval label will provide an attractive but traditional presentation.

    Perhaps the key feature of these delightful spirits is their competitive prices. In a world where vintages are increasing in price rapidly, they offer a level of stability over the next few years which other houses will find hard to compete with. This is the first new range of armagnac’s we have been able to offer for a number of years- they are  highly recommended and available now.

    Brandyclassics's range of Clos des Saveurs Bas Armagnacs include some very rare 1900 and 1893 vintage Armagnacs, in addition to more recent vintages.


  • Chateau de Beaulon open their new cellar

    Due to rapid expansion, Chateau de Beaulon opened a new cellar in August 2010.

    It is difficult to understate the success of Chateau de Beaulon in the last two or three decades. The firm are distillers and the credentials of it’s owner Christian Thomas can only be matched by the superb cognacs he produces, mainly from the Ugni Blanc but also the Folle Blanche and Colombard grape varieties. The Thomas family have reigned supreme around St Dizant du Gua in the most westerly part of the cru for centuries but have only owned the Chateau since 1965.

    Cognacs and Pineau have been made there for centuries, but it is only since the Thomas family have been the firms owners that real growth has taken place. Their well balanced cognacs have sold in many countries and a limited number of vintages have helped to swell the firms turnover, thus requiring greater warehousing and storage facilities.

    The new warehouse is a truly beautiful state of the art building which bolsters the firms green credentials using gravitational force for storage and bottling. Soft lighting in the main section creates a defining influence of the quality produced from this fourth cru estate.

    Brandyclassics sell a wide variety of Chateau de Beaulon cognacs and pineaus, a small selection of which are shown below.



  • Cognac legend Jacques Hardy dies

    One of the truly great names in cognac died in May 2005. Jacques Hardy of A. Hardy Cognacs died in hospital after a short illness, he was 83.

    The firm of Hardy was one of the last totally independent cognac houses of stature recognised throughout the industry and his collection of early vintage and pre-phylloxera cognacs is probably the best known and highest quality still available. The Hardy’s, like many of the old cognac houses are of English decent and started life as local distillers.

    Antoine Hardy was a broker and founded his own firm in 1863 after working with many brandy houses. He gained much experience with firms in England and traders visiting from other shores. He eventually specialised in selling to Russia. Valéri had six grandsons. Francis was the mayor of Cognac and some of the others, including Jon-Antoine and Gerard, probably looked after the more technical side of the firm whilst Philippe looked after the French markets. Jacques went to college and studied languages, and went on to became the undisputed chairman of the firm in 1957. Jaquues daughter's Benedicte and Sophie are the remaining family.

    About a month before he died, I had lunch with Jacques at his house (as I often did when in Cognac). It is a particularly beautiful house and his cook is also particularly good. At the end of the meal Jacques suggested that we should drink a cognac, one of the greatest of all the pre-phylloxera cognacs, A Hardy 1805, from Jacques' private cellar.

  • Serious shortage of aged Cognacs

    BNIC Statistics for March 2010 have revealed that stocks of old cognacs used by the big houses has dropped to one of the lowest levels ever, with only 2.9% of 4 and 5 year old stocks available for blending and 1.8% of stocks over 6 years old. In comparison, new cognacs, which are up to 1 year old are 64.4%

    This indicates that blended cognacs such as VS and VSOP from the big houses will require to be even younger to meet the increasing demands of consumers, especially in America where sales, particularly those of Hennessey have increased and are now better than the pre-recession 2008 level. China, Hong Kong and Taiwan have all increased their purchases considerably over the last 12 months.

  • Pineau des Charentes is back in Fashion in the search for exclusive summer drinks.

    Pineau des Charentes has always been the drink which everybody likes but nobody can ever remember how to buy. Almost without exception, people who taste the rich and fruity drink for the first time are totally hooked on it and swear they will buy more at the first opportunity. So where are the orders? A good question, it seems that having tasted the first bottle potential customers lose contact from where they found out about it and then forget all about it.

    This year Brandy Classics are introducing a new Vintage 1995 Pineau des Charentes in 50cl bottles. It is a real find since it was matured in Chateau Y’quem casks  and apart from being totally unique, it is positively delicious. There are of course other Pineau’s from the wonderful Chateau de Beaulon and naturally the 5 y.o. is our top seller in both white and red. The white can be used in the summer cocktail Pineau Royale, Served on ice it is a combination of 50% of each white Pineau and fizzy mineral water, lemon juice and a few shots of cognac, magic for the garden! Other must haves include the fabulous Cassagnoles White Armagnac, an ideal mixer with a strong pruney taste, probably a challenge for all the mixologists in our midst. Whatever the drinks, we have them in stock, awaiting your call for a bit of summer adventure.

  • Armagnac's Renaissance 700th Anniversary

    The Oldest spirit in France celebrates 700 years in 2010

    Perhaps to celebrate the long history of Armagnac produced in the foot hills of the Pyrenees, but mainly to draw attention to the oldest spirit in France, a delegation from Armagnac made the journey to the Vatican City. They collected a facsimile of the Vital Texts written in 1310. They describe the forty virtues of an alcohol called Aygue Ardente, the ancestor of armagnac and which has been preserved in the Vatican Library since 1531. It will be displayed around the world during 2010.

    These days the 40 virtues of armagnac could easily be translated into 400 virtues, since the many small armagnac houses' individual skills are just as good as those from their bigger cousins in Cognac. They create a wealth of vintage and blended armagnac's that can be as young as 5 years, and in a few rare cases, as old as 1888.

    Unlike cognac, there are no big blended armagnac houses and each producer is responsible for marketing their own creations, many of whic hare of exceptional quality. Gold medals were awarded last month at the IWSC to Castarede for their 1973 armagnac and medals were also awarded to Chateau de Tariquet for their XO and Ch du Lacquy for its 1991 vintage. Chateau de Bordeneuve has launched a 70 year old special edition to celebrate 700 years of armagnac.

    Brandyclassics stock a wide variety of Single Estate Armagnacs, which we have carefully selected on account of  their unique character, rarity and value. Ranging from our Domaine de Cassagnoles 5 y.o. Tenareze at under £30 to our Casterede Vintage 1900 at over £2500, we have a Armagnac for every taste, palette and pocket.


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