Re-thinking Cognac

Cognac is popular all over the world but it’s especially so outside France. In fact some 87% of it is exported. This part of the world too has a fair smattering of Cognac fans. But it’s time for Cognac to re-assess it’s appeal to the younger demographic. We review the approach increasingly being taken to the Cognac market here in Ireland.

Here in Ireland Cognac shifted around 105,000 nine-litre cases last year according to figures from IWSR.

Using a figure of 832,000 litres or 92,500 nine-litre cases, Nielsen puts the total value of the Irish Cognac market at €63.5 million MAT to October 2015.

Nielsen breaks this down into 33,800 nine-litre cases via the on-trade (up 3.1% on the previous year MAT to October ’14) worth €38.1 million (up 3.7% in value).

Off-trade sales accounted for 58,700 nine-litre cases worth €25.4 million MAT to October this year, up in value 0.2%.


Experiencing Cognac

Irish people are not used to taking Cognac other than in the traditional way.

But some mixologists – in particular those who’ve now gone past white spirits and seek something else to use via a new generation of brown spirit cocktails – increasingly seem to favour Cognac in cocktails today.

Cognac has long sought out a younger market dynamic. Some, such as Hennessy, for example, are going after the 27 to 40 year-old demographic who’re used to drinking vodka and beer, who have a job and who consider themselves settled, who appreciate things that are a bit more expensive.

“When this segment has settled, they look for something a bit more discerning, have tasted wines and are beginning to know what they like,” explains Caroline Sleiman, Brand Development Manager for Moet Hennessy in Ireland at distributors Edward Dillon & Company, “It’s the time to show them brown spirits.”

And “showing them brown spirits” can be done through many different approaches.

People are pleasantly surprised at just how good a Cognac cocktail can taste – something which all too many consumers initially treat with caution.

“There would be no way to get a young person to drink Cognac if it was served neat,” suspects mixologist Alan Kavanagh, “We want them to taste it in a format where they will ask themselves why they don’t do this more often – and they’re now doing this.”


Different ways of consuming Cognac

In Poland Hennessy is ordered by the bottle and drunk in nightclubs with a plethora of mixers complete with, says Alan wryly, sparklers!

Here at home, one can buy mixers now in a much wider selection of flavours than heretofore. This too has led to a more experimental approach in the serving up of Cognac to a new type of consumer – one who’s not afraid to try something new (or even something old in a new way).

“Look at how the market has changed,” comments Alan, “Imagine five years ago that someone had said to you that they wanted cucumber in their G&T!”

But Cognac suppliers are not on a journey to change people’s minds about their product overnight; it will take a while to change perceptions – but it’s going in the right direction.

Cognac suppliers such as Hennessy’s Edward Dillon & Co are now talking to a generation about Cognac, making it more relevant to a demographic who only know the way their grandfather drank Cognac.

“We’ve identified key bars and we’re supporting them via glassware and training etc,” points out Caroline Sleiman.


Cognac in a more appropriate glass

The type of glass in which a Cognac is served has also come to have a bearing on consumer appreciation.

Five years ago Hennessy stopped producing the balloon glasses and stopped sending them into the on-trade. The feedback was predictably hostile at first.

But something needed to be done to widen its appeal.

“You’re not going to change demand patterns if you’re still presenting it in a balloon glass,” explains Caroline, “The first part of that journey was moving on from the balloon glass.

“This journey wasn’t started recently” she points out, “but has become a five-year project. We want the consumer to re-evaluate it having consumed it in the right place and on the right occasion.”

As a result the company now offers a range of different glasses in which to serve up Cognac.


Hennessy X.O Exclusive Collection €144.59low 

Hennessy XO Exclusive Collection (€144.59)

Designer Tom Dixon unveils the last opus of his three-year collaboration with Hennessy XO, the Hennessy XO Exclusive Collection, especially this festive season. Inspired by the state-of-the-art technique of tessellation, Tom has paid the ultimate tribute to Hennessy XO with his latest creation.

Always ahead of his time, Tom was inspired by stone, highlighting the preciousness of this raw material in his design. While the exterior may have changed, the classic incomparable Hennessy XO blend enclosed in each bottle has stayed the same since its creation and whether enjoyed straight, on the rocks or with a splash of still water, Hennessy XO is the perfect accompaniment for toasting the season’s celebrations and the culmination of a momentous year.


Remy Martin_VSOP_70clTO175cl_White10low


Remy Martin

As one of the best-selling cognacs worldwide Remy Martin is the leader in superior quality with its VSOP and older cognacs.

Founded in 1724, the House of Remy Martin specialises in Fine Champagne cognac.

The secret of Cognac is in the soil from which it comes. For this reason Remy Martin only uses grapes from the most respected growing regions – the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. These regions contain a unique type of chalk-flecked soil that reflects light and ripens the grapes to absolute perfection.

Every drop of Remy Martin cognac is of the highest attainable quality thanks to craftsmanship and untiring devotion to detail.

This Christmas give the gift of this unique hand-crafted Cognac for a truly special present.



Jamie I – double award-winning brandy

Torres, Ireland’s favourite Spanish wine brand and named World Most Admired Wine Brand by Drinks International, this year proved that its expertise extends into spirits too: although not a Cognac, its 30 Year-Old brandy Jaime I was voted the World’s Best Brandy at the prestigious World Drinks Awards 2015 in London last March.

In awarding Jaime I this honour the judges noted that, “This rich and tasty Spanish brandy has a wonderfully sweet raisin/grape molasses nose with added spice to the typical barrel-influenced palate. Vanilla and caramel and a lot of oak dominate on the finish along with raisin.”

Jaime I was also honoured with another award on the other side of the Atlantic: the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, in its 15th edition, selected Jaime I as the Best Spanish Brandy and awarded it a Double Gold Medal, the highest distinction.

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