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Cognac and brandy brands to watch in 2020

While Cognac prepares for the future by expanding production capacity, the brandy sector could benefit from its growing use in cocktails. We predict the brands that will shine in 2020.

In the 12 months to 31 July 2019, Cognac exports grew in terms of both volume and value – marking the fifth consecutive year the category had registered such success. Shipments topped 211.1m bottles, up by 2.5% on 2017/18, while value exports hit €3.4bn (US$3.7bn), a 6.9% increase.

The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) is confident that growth can be sustained in the future, and is making provisions to enable supply to meet demand as new markets open up around the world.

“To meet the growing demand of the market in 2019, Cognac production has accelerated,” says a spokesperson for the trade body. “The Cognac sector will continue developing the production capacity of winegrowing operations by giving them the opportunity to expand their vineyards.”

The BNIC has been working with producers to increase the vineyard surface area in the appellation zone. This work was “accelerated” in 2019, when a plan to establish around 10,000 hectares of new plantations over three years was set in motion.

“This planting plan is the result of a collective effort by the winegrowers and merchants of the Cognac appellation, carried out through their business plan,” says the BNIC. “This foresight and long‐term vision makes it possible to establish the production needs of the sector, in line with market forecasts.”

In addition, the laws governing Cognac have evolved to “preserve the terroir’s environment and resources”. Chemical weeding of field boundaries has been banned, as has chemical weeding of vineyard plots. A new age reference for blends was introduced at the start of this year: Extra Extra Old, or XXO, which can be used for Cognac that contains eaux‐de‐vie aged for 14 years or more.

David Baker, managing director of Hermitage Cognac, sees a “move towards more expensive aged Cognac statements”. He says: “The vintage sector of the market is seeing a steady increase in prices, especially in older vintages and age statements where stock of many individual vintages is low on availability.”

In another section of the market, Frapin’s director of international business, Bertrand Verduzier, says there is still scope for Cognac to tout its mixability. “The cocktail scene needs to get it together with Cognac,” he says. “We are progressing, but there is much more to explore and convey to consumers.”

This is a clear aim of the BNIC, which claims bars in the UK are embracing Cognac. “With the growing trend of Cognac cocktails and the popularity of Cognac in Asia, Cognac exports continue to grow, diversifying its market and welcoming a new generation of drinkers.”

In terms of markets, Cognac shipments to South Africa, Nigeria and the Caribbean have tripled over the past 10 years, according to the BNIC, demonstrating the potential of the spirit in emerging markets.

Click through the following pages to see which brands we believe are ones to watch in the year ahead.


This year, Bacardi‐owned D’Ussé Cognac appointed bartender Sullivan Doh as its first global brand ambassador, with responsibility for aiding its expansion in the US, South Africa, Nigeria and Canada.

As the Cognac sector aims to more closely align itself with the cocktail scene, it will be interesting to see what strategies Doh has up his sleeve.


Martell has been one of the best‐performing spirits in Pernod Ricard’s portfolio for the past couple of years. The brand has managed to recruit new drinkers through innovations such as Blue Swift, but also keep its target market enthused.

Notably, the brand has been the driving force of Pernod Ricard’s success in Asia. Will this continue in 2020?


This American brand was launched by bartender Jeff Bell and sommelier Thomas Pastuszak last year with a mission of bringing brandy back to the “forefront of cocktail culture”.

Bertoux has been choosy about the US markets it launches in, but is bringing the category to a new generation of curious bartenders.

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