For decades we have referred to Nicholas Faith’s book ‘Cognac’ for bits and pieces of information - his books have become the standard in the industry. They are regarded by most professionals as invaluable guides to cognac, it’s history and the thousands of producers in the Charente region of France where the King of Spirits is made. The world of cognac is evolving faster now than ever before. Increased sales volumes have created the need for bigger harvest yields and the means of making different cognacs. It therefore comes as no surprise that a new book on the subject has been provided by Michelle Brachet. ‘The World of Cognac’ is hugely informative and enjoyable to read with points of historical interest as well as individual stories of some of the better-known names in the industry. It also looks at some of the industry changes that have created the modern cognac which we enjoy today. Wonderfully illustrated, it includes pictures of key parts of cognac’s progress through the ages. ‘The World of Cognac’ could well become the natural successor to Nick Faith’s all encompassing ‘Cognac’. Well done Michelle!
For decades we have been advocating the use of tulip glasses for drinking cognac. DB has written much on the subject including one of his monthly Technical Topics. Now it seems other professionals in the industry are speaking out. Well respected cognac producer, Frapin, have called for a ban on brandy balloons. The giant glass does nothing for the spirit. Export Director Bertrand Verduzier said “Tulip glasses are the best way to experience cognac as you get more aromas coming through and with balloons you just get alcohol”. Michelle Brachet, cognac expert and educator, agrees suggesting the introduction of a ‘smash the snifter’ campaign. Frapin’s call to use glasses which help recognise individual flavours in cognac may have been influenced by their relatively recent move into cognacs with age statements. “Our vintage cognacs are a point of difference that show what we’re all about - they are very alive and different to one another” Piveteau said. Good to see others promoting the recognition of individual cognac flavours - our 45 Year Old is a classic example.
Cognac rebrands. Its regulatory body, the BNIC, has just unveiled a new brand identity for the appellation which was officially recognised over a hundred years ago. The logo depicts a rich, copper still-coloured map of the growing region. Bordering the Atlantic ocean, the appellation is bisected by the river Charente and comprises 6 cognac crus. The newly designed logo reminds us that the King of all Spirits is the product of one place only. It is designed to be inspiring, like cognac itself. It should also convey to consumers the wonderful history of the region and craftmanship of the producers. Even the font used has historic connections. It was created by Claude Garamount in the 16th century, when Charente wine was first distilled. Speaking at the launch, Claire Caillaud, BNIC Director of Comms said ”[The logo] will reinforce cognac’s image as a product of guaranteed provenance and authenticity”.
We are really looking forward to 2018 as two more Hermitage celebration vintages are added to our stores. An exceptional Borderies 1958 cognac was the first to arrive and it has just been joined by a rare, Grande Champagne gem from 1938. Wonderful, single estate, vintage cognacs but particularly special for those with a 60th or 80th celebration this year.
The full range of Hermitage celebration vintages comprises:
And if it’s armagnac you’re after, we have the following vintages in stock:
For the 3rd year running, cognac exports have increased with a 10% growth in volume and a 15% growth in value. The US retained its position as the largest cognac market. China has led the return to growth in the Far East. Prosperity in Europe has also returned thanks mainly to renewed interest from Russia and the Baltics. Naturally, this good news has led to speculation of more cognac house takeovers in the Cognac region. Some major non-cognac companies may be looking to extend their portfolio in this area as a good investment. It is also understood that hefty price increases should be expected this year, especially amongst the older cognacs. Beware, new price lists are imminent!
Why is it that cognac attracts so many rappers to promote its cause? Maybe they are attracted to the meticulous craft it embodies or the respect it commands in the spirits world? Courvoisier recently launched a new campaign starring American rapper A$AP Rocky. Called ‘Honour Your Code’ it embodies the brand’s values of ‘dedication, vision and respect for tradition’. “I think your code is equivalent to your standards and your morals. It’s whatever you believe in and you should always stand by it.” said A$AP Rocky. It was a similar view that drew Jay-Z to Château de Cognac 6 years ago. His proposition to create a new blend that would not only honour the region’s history but push the boundaries of traditional consumption resulted in the production and partial ownership of D’ussé Cognac. So, these rap artists’ foray into the world of cognac not only helps to expose the spirit to a younger audience, they associate it with many traditional values. More recently Jay-Z has been involved in the Hurricane Maria relief effort. D’Ussé cognac was given away to all those donating items or money to the fund. Now that is community spirited!
Thankfully the Brexit talks finally seem to be getting somewhere as for the wine and spirits trade, no deal will be a bad deal. The representative body of the EU drinks industry has called upon the EU and UK to agree to a ‘gold standard agreement’ and so minimise the Brexit Effect. This will preserve tariff-free trade for wines and spirits to ensure fair competition and consumers’ confidence. A good outcome if agreed, but it is unlikely to be secured by March 2019.
In contrast, a positive forecast comes from the Travel Retail sector. This term emerged when duty-free shopping within the EU was abolished 18 years ago. Suddenly, the well-known British practice of hopping across the Channel to stock up on duty-free goods had gone. And as a consequence, a substantial amount of business was lost. So, when the UK exits the EU on 29 March 2019, this market should be reinstated. The UK will become a ‘third country’. Under current EU law, European travellers can take advantage of duty-free sales if travelling to a third country. However, for UK travellers to also benefit, a change in UK law will be required. The UK Travel Retail Forum are lobbying hard for this and very strong support has been received from the spirits industry. That said, we would still prefer to see a free trade agreement in place.
The Mail on Sunday's drinks writer and well known TV personality, Olly Smith, has featured a few products from the Brandyclassics website in his column over recent months. He began with recommending our Hermitage Provenance 10 Cognac for Bonfire Night suggesting that one should "Dive into this liquid flame, whose quality will set your very soul alight". He is not the only one to enjoy this wonderful cognac. It has been flying off our shelves ever since!
With Christmas approaching Olly moved into our Armagnac range. Firstly he advocated the ever popular Delord 20 Year Old Bas Armagnac describing it as his Top Pick - "plums and almonds rolled in cinnamon, the scent of sheer Christmas!". A long time favourite of ours this Armagnac is pleasingly presented in a green basquaise bottle.
And finally last weekend, he chose to feature our Blanche de Cassagnoles. A white armagnac from the Tenareze region it has beautiful prune flavours despite the water-clear appearance. Ideal for Christmas cocktails, flambés and other sorts of cooking.
Our latest release, Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise, is a 60-Year-Old Grande Champagne from one of the region’s top artisan producers. This astonishing creation has been described as “lining one’s mouth with velvet” and is a precious and rare investment. At 43% abv it has all the complex aromas and flavours one would expect from such a well-aged cognac.
It is offered in a limited first run of 50 one litre decanters produced by Cumbria Crystal. They are the last producer of completely hand-blown and hand-cut, full-lead luxury English crystal in the UK. The intensity and depth of flavours created by its careful distillation and ageing have created a masterpiece of smoothness and an intensely rich rancio found only in the rarest of cognacs. This truly great cognac is named after Marie Louise, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She bore his son who was given the title 'Roi de Rome' and who later became Napoleon II.
Our finest release to date, Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise made it into the Saturday Telegraph two months in a row. Initially, on 4 November, Victoria Moore wrote a fascinating piece about our MD, David Baker, Hermitage Cognacs and of course Cognac Marie Louise. On 2 December she included details of the wonderful 60 plus year old cognac in the Luxury supplement.
Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise is available from Hedonism Wines, Corney and Barrow, Chelsea Vintners and our Brandyclassics website and is proving to be a real hit this Christmas.
Our range of Hermitage Cognacs is ever increasing so we have designed some new cognac presentations to suit.
The latest addition is a bespoke presentation box for our extremely popular Hermitage Cognac Café 20 - the perfect accompaniment to coffee, it can also be enjoyed at any time of the day. The Café 20 now comes packaged in a 'wedgewood' blue box depicting early 20th century French café culture.
Our Hermitage 20 Year Old Grande Champagne and Hermitage 30 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognacs are both supplied in the extremely elegant 'Helios' carafe. Their new presentation box features the Alembic still, an iconic symbol of the cognac production process.
We hope you like them too.