Top 10 best-selling brandy and Cognac brandsBy Nicola Carruthers
While Cognac’s star performers witnessed a fortuitous year, results were mixed for the biggest brandy players. SB takes a look at the world’s best-selling brands.
Global exports of Cognac rose for a fourth consecutive year from 2017-2018, according to Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) figures. The statistics showed Cognac exports during this time increased 8.2% by volume and 5.4% by value, reaching 205.9 million bottles and generating turnover worth €3.2 billion (US$3.6bn).
When it comes to brandy, the category’s biggest players witnessed falling sales with five out of the eight million-case-selling brands registering declines. Big and small producers alike are doing their best to change the category’s fortunes through innovation and experimentation.
Following our recently published Brand Champions 2019 report – an in-depth analysis of the brands selling more than one-million cases annually – here, we run through the world’s best-selling Cognacs and brandies 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 2019.
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 2018.
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: -0.7%
Place last year: 9
Torres has retained its ninth place position on our top 10 list. The top-selling Spanish brandy registered the smallest decline across the category, with a 0.7% drop to 1.3m.
In 1946, Miguel Torres Carbó created flagship brand Torres 10, which is aged using the solera system.
8. McDowell’s No.1 Brandy
% change: -16.3%
Place last year: 8
United Spirits’ McDowell’s No.1 witnessed the biggest drop across the brandy category, down by 16.3%.
The brand, once the world’s second largest brandy, took a huge tumble in sales in 2017, dropping to below 2m cases for the first time in at least five years.
It’s been a tumultuous few years for Diageo-controlled Indian drinks group United Spirits. The firm’s former chairman Vijay Mallya resigned from United Spirits in 2016 after an internal investigation into company accounts.
Last month, the High Court in London ordered Mallya to pay US$135 million to Johnnie Walker owner Diageo.
% change: 4.7%
Place last year: New entry
Rising up the ranks to claim a spot on our top 10 list is Beam Suntory-owned Courvoisier Cognac, which grew 4.7% to 1.4m cases.
In the company’s full-year 2018 financial results, Courvoisier witnessed high single-digit growth. Earlier this year, Courvoisier partnered with US record label Def Jam Recordings to launch a platform that celebrates new music, called Amplified: Icons on the Rise.
6. Rémy Martin
% change: 7.5%
Place last year: 6
Rémy Cointreau’s flagship brand Rémy Martin witnessed a 7.5% volume sales increase, securing its position as the world’s third biggest-selling Cognac.
The French drinks group posted full-year sales growth of 7.8% in 2018/19, driven by a double-digit gains for its Cognac portfolio.
Rémy Martin Cognac posted double-digit growth of 11.9%, with “remarkable growth” across all geographical areas. Asia Pacific experienced “strong growth” in Greater China and Southeast Asia, while the Americas witnessed “strong momentum”.
The brand benefited from the “global success” of the limited edition VSOP Matt W Moore bottle, the performance of its XO, supported by “sustained investments”, and the opening of Rémy Martin houses in London, Moscow, Chengdu and Shenzhen.
% change: 16.4%
Place last year: 5
Pernod Ricard-owned Martell has managed to stay slightly ahead of rival Rémy Martin, with the brand witnessing the largest growth across the Cognac category (16.4%).
This year’s Cognac Brand Champion, Martell’s growth was attributed to “the implementation of a new route to market in key markets, including the US, and overall more focus on premiumisation and innovation”, according to Patricia Kastrup, vice-president of marketing at Maison Martell.
As part of its innovation strategy, last year the brand launched a Cognac-based spirit drink ﬁnished in Kentucky Bourbon casks, called Blue Swift. Travel retail has also become a “clear focus” for the brand, with travel retail-exclusives such as Martell Cordon Bleu Extra and the Single Estate Collection proving popular among travellers.
4. Old Admiral Brandy
% change: -3.2%
Place last year: 4
A former Brandy Brand Champion, Old Admiral witnessed a slight decrease of 3.2% in 2018. It’s been a disappointing few years for the brand, which could fall below the 3m-case-mark this year if volumes do not improve.
Nevertheless, Lalit Khaitan, chairman and managing director of brand owner Radico Khaitan, said in the group’s full-year financial results for 2018: “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.”
In addition to Old Admiral, Radico Khaitan also produces Morpheus brandy.
% change: -7.5%
Place last year: 3
Campari Group’s Dreher has held on to its place in our top 10, however its sales fell by 7.5% to 3.1m 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 Campari Group’s portfolio in 2001.
% change: 2.6%
Place last year: 2
The world’s best-selling Cognac brand, Hennessy, grew volume sales by 2.6% in 2018.
In its 2018 full-year results, brand owner Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) revealed that Hennessy’s volumes increased by 3%, aided by “good growth” in the US despite a backdrop of tight supply. The Chinese market also experienced “good momentum”. The firm will continue its strategy of building on “strong innovation and investments”.
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 26,000-sqm Pont Neuf site has the ability to produce 24m bottles annually.
% change: -6.6%
Place last year: 1
The world’s best-selling brandy continued to witness disappointing sales, which tumbled by 6.6% to 25.6m cases in 2018. However, it still remains in the top five of the world’s best-selling spirits brands across all categories.
In the first nine months of 2018, brand owner Alliance Global Group saw its revenue from the brandy business grow 8% year-on-year to Philippine peso 21.4 billion year-on-year. The firm said its brandy portfolio is “fortified to sustain the
present number one position in Spain, Mexico and the Philippines”.