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Does Cognac Contain Allergens or Animal Products?



With the increased focus on the labelling of foodstuffs correctly, and in detail, we do get asked about the content of cognac, including allergens.  To ensure we have accurate information for our customers, we put the question to the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac), Cognac’s governing body, and this is what they told us:

Cognac is made exclusively by the distillation  of wines, produced in a limited area, from specific grape varieties.  After distillation, Cognac is aged in oak barrels.  Based on this production process, cognac does not contain any of the allergenic substances or products listed in European Regulations.

Subsequent to this process, certain additions are authorised – sugar, caramel, decoction of oak chips and water.  None of these are from animal origin therefore, cognac appears to be compatible with vegetarian or vegan diets.

Additionally, none of the yeast strains qualified by the BNIC for fermentation of the wines, intended for cognac production, are Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).  Therefore cognac can be classified as GMO free.

Cognac Sales On The Rise Worldwide

cognac salesThe premium drinks market is seeing a significant rise in demand as the worst effects of the pandemic subside.  The BNIC has just released figures that show a 31% increase in cognac exports by value, equating to an increase of 16% by volume.  These rises also compare favourably to the pre-pandemic demand in 2019.  “This growth reflects a real recovery of cognac, as well as new consumption habits,” the BNIC said.  Sales to the spirit’s largest market, the United States, climbed 11 %, sales to China, its second biggest, leapt 56 % whilst European sales were up 8%.  Cognac sales are also growing in newer markets, particularly South Africa and Nigeria.

The news signals a bounce back for the spirit, which suffered plummeting sales during the early days of the pandemic.  It was also aided in March last year with the 5 year suspension of tariffs between the EU and US, which lifted the crippling 25% duty which had been levied upon cognac among other brandies.  Thankfully we have experienced a similar upturn with all of our premium brandies, and Hermitage Cognacs in particular.

The Charente Scene – Winter 2020 – BNIC Update

BNIC UpdateTo meet the ever growing demand for cognac, an additional 10,000 hectares of vineyards will be planted over the next three years, according to a BNIC Update (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac).  Over 3000 hectares of vineyards will be planted each year to increase the production capacity of the winegrowing operations.  The BNIC has also launched its new website, designed to give Cognac a twist.  The aim of the website is to reveal cognac’s true modernity, its spirit of conquest and its dynamism by respecting a centuries-old history and roots in an authentic “terroir”.  For more information take a look at .  The region has also recently received a boost from the local authorities.  They have agreed that Cognac will become the leading city for luxury brand economic development.  Its purpose will be to encourage all luxury enterprises but specifically spirits production.


During the war years the Cognaçais were required to provide the Germans with large quantities of brandy. They cheated of course by shipping spirits made from root vegetables thus maintaining their stocks of real cognac. It was during this period that Maurice Hennessy and a well known grower, Pierre Verneuil, followed the example of the growers in the Champagne BNIC logoregion and created the wine and eaux-de-vie distribution bureau to preserve the cognac stock. When the war ended this organisation emerged as the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), cognac’s governing body.  Composed equally of growers and merchants, the BNIC acquired a great deal of de facto independence from the government in the formulation and supervision of the rules governingBNIC cognac crus cognac. The BNIC also took over the role, previously performed by Martell and Hennessy, of deciding the price of new brandies from various crus. The cognac region had been divided into crus in the 1930s as a natural consequence of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system which had become law in 1905.

The end of World War 2 also ushered in nearly 30 years of increasing prosperity. The BNIC greatly improved the relationship between growers and merchants and was lubricated by the ensuing prosperity. In 1948 the Station Viticole, a private laboratory set up to help growers and distillers after the Phylloxera outbreak, was taken over by the BNIC who were able to control all the stages involved in the production of cognac. This included the regulations required to manage the growing, wine making, distillation and ageing of cognac. More recently their powers have gone further with the control of market and sales information, both country by country and by product type, enabling them to manage government taxes and duties. In short, the BNIC now manages every stage of cognac production, from the vineyards to the end buyer.

The Place of Regulatory Bodies e.g. BNIC

The Cesium Thought Leadership (CTL) panel met recently to discuss the role industry bodies play in shaping the drinks industry. They concluded that these bodies have 4 areas of influence: education, interdependency, unified thinking and lobbying. The regulatory body for cognac is BNIC logothe Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) whose mission is ‘to develop and promote cognac, representing the best interests of all cognac professionals including growers, merchants and members of other activities related to the cognac trade’. They control all stages of cognac production including the regulations required to manage the growing, wine making, distillation and ageing. Over the years their powers have increased and they now control market and sales information (both country by country and by product type) enabling them to manage government taxes and duties. In short, the BNIC manages every stage of cognac, from the vineyards to the end buyer and certainly covers the 4 areas of influence recognised by the CTL. This level of control definitely protects the industry from rogue trading but has also been criticised for stifling innovation. We wait to hear what the BNIC thinks about ‘Adding a Finish’ as suggested by Martell (see previously) – will others dare to follow?

Read more about the BNIC on our Brandy Education page.

The Cognac Process – Part 12. Establishment of a Cognac Regulatory Body

Many of the established growers and merchants recognised the need to establish a body to control and manage the quality and sale of cognac. Much of the preliminary work had been done before the Second World War and a great deal of de facto independence from the government had already been gained – the Charente region had been divided into crus in 1909, as a natural consequence of the system of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée,  and  the geographical areas had been delimited by government in 1936. During the War a wine and eaux de vie bureau was created to try and protect the cognac stocks.  After the War this organisation was made official and The Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac or BNIC was established.  The existing Station Viticole’s cognac research laboratories were also placed under its wing and so the BNIC’s role of managing every aspect of cognac production and sales began.

Our Hermitage 1947 is a classic vintage cognac from the post war era, produced at the outset of the BNIC’s establishment.