The top 10 best-selling Cognac and brandy brandsBy Nicola Carruthers
After a tough few years, Cognac’s global sales have bounced back in spectacular fashion, while the previously beleaguered brandy category has taken tentative steps towards growth. But the performances of the world’s largest brands remain mixed.
The Cognac category experienced a record year in 2017, when global exports reached their highest levels in both value and volume, resulting in a turnover of €3.15bn (US$3.85bn), according to figures from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).
In total, 197.4m bottles were exported in 2017, with 86.2m bottles shipped to the US, Cognac’s largest market.
From 2016-17, total brandy sales grew marginally, from 1.41bn litres to 1.412bn litres. This is expected to increase again in 2018 to reach 1.425bn litres, according to Euromonitor figures. This is a clear uplift compared to 2015-2016, when sales plummted from 1.438bn litres.
Following our recently published Brand Champions 2018 – our pick of those brands selling more than one-million cases annually that are performing exceptionally within their category – we run through the world’s best-selling Cognac and brandy brands on the market today.
Click through the following pages to discover the top 10 best-selling Cognac and brandy brands, listed in order of their nine-litre case sales.
Data is listed to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes are based on the full data supplied to The Brand Champions 2018.
10. Old Kenigsberg
% change: 0.8%
Place last year: 10
Alliance 1892 Brandy Company-owned Old Kenigsberg might have held on to the number 10 spot in the list of best-selling Cognacs and brandies, but it only managed a small increase of 0.8% in 2017.
Old Kenigsberg has rebounded before, climbing a significant 7.14% from 2012 to 2013 – could we see the brand’s volumes recover in the future?
9. Torres Brandy
% change: 1.6%
Place last year: 9
Torres has retained its ninth place position on our top 10 list. The top-selling Spanish brandy managed to return to 4m cases after witnessing a small decline last year.
In 1946, Miguel Torres Carbó created flagship brand Torres 10, which is aged using the solera system.
8. McDowell’s No.1 Brandy
% change: -22.7%
Place last year: 4
United Spirits’ McDowell’s No.1 witnessed the biggest drop across the brandy category, down by 22.7%.
The brand, once the world’s second largest brandy brand, has taken a huge tumble in sales, dropping to below 2m cases for the first time in at least five years.
Diageo-controlled Indian drinks group United Spirits has had a rocky few years. United Spirits’ former chairman Vijay Mallya resigned from the company in 2016 after an internal investigation into company accounts. Diageo eventually sued the tycoon through the High Court in London for at least US$180m.
7. Paul Masson Grande Amber
% change: 1.5%
Place last year: 7
Constellation Brands-owned Paul Masson Grande Amber was bestowed with the title of Brandy Brand Champion 2018 for being one of only a four million-case-plus brandies not to have suffered a decline in 2017. The brand slightly increased last year – up 1.5% to just below the 2m case mark.
Carl Evans, Constellation Brands’ vice-president of spirits, attributes the brandy’s success to a wider “lack of premiumisation, which leaves the opportunity for us to continue to lead”. The company’s flavoured variants, including a mango expression, also helped to drive growth in 2017.
6. Rémy Martin
% change: 7.0%
Place last year: 6
Rémy Cointreau’s flagship brand Rémy Martin witnessed a 7% volume sales increase, maintaining its third place spot.
In the company’s 2017 full-year results, Rémy Martin posted a double-digit growth of +13.2%, delivering a “strong” performance across all geographical areas. The brand achieved “accelerated momentum” in Asia Pacific, in particular Greater China. It also performed well in the US, Russia and travel retail.
Sales for the Cognac house were boosted by the launch of a second limited-edition release of Carte Blanche à Baptiste Loiseau, pop-ups in the UK, Russia and China, and “communication investments” for its XO variant.
% change: 4.8%
Place last year: 5
Pernod Ricard-owned Martell has managed to stay slightly ahead of rival Rémy Martin, but the gap is now closing between them.
Martell’s volume sales increased by 7% in 2017 to 2.2m cases thanks to a strong performance in China and Asia travel retail. The brand also witnessed a double-digit increase in the Americas, in particular the US, travel retail and Mexico.
4. Old Admiral Brandy
% change: -12.1%
Place last year: 2
Last year’s Brandy Brand Champion witnessed its biggest decrease since 2014, falling by 12.1% last year.
Nevertheless, Lalit Khaitan, chairman and managing director of brand owner Radico Khaitan, said in the group’s financial results for 2017/18: “A stronger and premium product portfolio coupled with improved operating environment and stronger balance sheet coupled with robust cash flow generation places us optimally to capitalise on the long term attractive India consumer industry opportunities.”
% change: 1.5%
Place last year: 3
Gruppo Campari’s Dreher has held on to its place in our top 10, increasing volume sales by 1.5% to 3.4m cases.
Brazil’s best-selling brandy, Dreher originated in 1910 in the Southern region of Bento Gonçalves. It was acquired in 1973 by Heublein and in 1998 by UDV Brazil, before becoming part of Gruppo Campari’s portfolio in 2001.
% change: 8.5%
Place last year: New entry
The world’s best-selling Cognac brand, Hennessy, grew volume sales by 8.5% in 2017 – the largest growth across the Cognac contingent.
In its 2017 full-year results, brand owner Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) revealed that Hennessy’s volumes hit 7.6m cases, with “significant” growth in China and the US, despite supply constraints in the second half of the year.
And the company is keen to invest further in the brand. During the final quarter of 2017, Hennessy opened a €100m (US$118m) bottling and logistics plant to reinforce its production capacity. The 26,000sqm Pont Neuf site has the ability to produce 24m bottles annually.
% change: -3.2%
Place last year: 1
The world’s best-selling brandy continued to witness disappointing sales, which tumbled by 3.2% to 27.1m cases in 2017. However it still remains to in the top five of the world’s best-selling spirits brands, across all categories.
Brand owner Alliance Global Group is planning an “aggressive push” for new products for the domestic and international markets. The brand is also benefitting from “increasing share of millennial drinks” in its domestic market, the Philippines. Emperador Brandy is now being marketed in 51 countries, and is on its way to becoming a global brand, according to the company.