Cognac: China Calls Time

Hine is, of course, celebrating and indeed has double cause to celebrate. The Cognac house, once the jewel in Trinidad & Tobago-based company CL Brands’ crown, has been acquired by the family-run French business EDV SAS, a move which coincides with the producer’s 250th anniversary. Not surprisingly there are smiles all round. “We are very happy at all levels,” says Le Grelle. “EDV’s principals share common values such as a family philosophy, the use of the finest raw materials and outstanding quality, a superior craftsmanship and attention to detail.”

 For Hine the next three years will be all to do with consolidating and building on its gains in its key markets. It’s a house which is a quality act embracing the traditional Cognac consumption as well as the cocktail circuit with its special  VSOP ‘brew’ H by Hine and it sees the mixing circuit as a way of reviving interest in the category. Originally developed with the UK market in mind this quality has gone on to find favour with mixologists all over the world.

“This new, high-quality cocktail wave is not necessarily linked to adding volume but more to rejuvenating the Cognac category in general and above all to be able to reach a young, yet well-informed public who are looking for high quality products that are artisanal with souls – hence a perfect fit for Hine,” says Le Grelle. “This trend has been well established in the US, the UK and in France and is now developing in Asia, in particular in Hong Kong.”

Cocktail habit

The cocktail habit, particularly in the US and the UK, has been noticed now by the big Cognac four – Hennessy, Martell, Remy and Courvoisier – and all have launched qualities for the mixing arena. 

Courvoisier was the first with its Exclusif, Hennessy in 2009 launched Black, while last year Rémy came out with its VSOP Mature Cask Finish and this year Pernod Ricard’s Martell has unveiled its Caractère initially Stateside. 

“This is a new blend that can be drunk neat or in cocktails as it is well adapted to mixability as a great base which enhances cocktails,” says directrice communication Elisabeth Ricard. “A specific cocktail platform has also been developed.”

The world leader in the XO category, Martell has posted strong growth in 2012/2013. 

By the end of PR’s fiscal year July 2013 sales growth was in the order of 15% and with volume ahead by 5% annual cases reached a record tally of 2 million. “Results were especially good in the Asian market (+16% organic growth). 

“Dynamic growth was also recorded in Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, and in travel retail, due in particular to the Noblige and Cordon Bleu labels, whose sales rose on all the brand’s key markets,” says Ricard.

Another first in the US was chalked up by the Suntory-owned Louis Royer when its Force 53˚ High Strength Cognac won a Best in Show Double Gold Award in this year’s San Francisco Spirits Competition. No doubt by way of celebration the producer staged its second High Proof Cognac Cocktail Competition under the banner Show Me the Proof!