World Spirits Report 2022: Cognac & brandyBy Alice Brooker
In 2021, sales of Cognac leapt by nearly a third in value to €3.6 billion (US$4.1bn), according to industry group the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC). Plus, volume sales of the spirit increased by 16.2% to 223.2 million bottles.
From a global perspective, the liquid seems to be cementing its position in multiple regions: Cognac exports to the US, the largest market for the category, climbed by 11.1%, with 115m bottles shipped last year. Cognac’s second‐biggest market, China, saw a 55.8% boost in sales, with 34m bottles shipped. There are big players in the Cognac category, like Rémy Martin, Hennessy and Martell. But impressive steps are being made by brands far and wide in the Cognac sector: this year, Larsen unveiled a limited Sneaker Edition of its VSOP bottling in a tribute to street fashion, while family‐owned Maison Bache‐Gabrielsen launched a series named Years in Cask.
Looking at brandy besides Cognac, however, and the category is still grappling with capturing a dependable new audience, having suffered a dip between 2021 and 2022: last year, the category recorded 141.5m case sales, but this is expected to drop to 140.9m this year, according to Euromonitor International.
However, brandy expected to rebound with 142.8m case sales in 2023, and apple‐based French brandy Calvados is doing its bit to prop‐up the category’s success. Calvados saw sales rise by 14.2% in 2021, after 4.8m bottles were sold, and trade body the Interprofessional Association of Cider‐Based Controlled Appellations (IDAC) noted three markets where Calvados is making ‘significant progress’: Belgium (up by 30%), Sweden (up by 31%), and the US (up by 70%). Exports represented 50% of Calvados sales in 2021, indicating strong demand overseas.
Tilaknagar Industries‐owned Mansion House brandy may be part of this optimism for the category, having seen impressive growth during 2022. The brand’s reported sales volume reached 4.2m nine‐litre cases in its full‐year 2020‐2021 trading period, and increased to 5.4m cases for the 2021‐2022 trading period.
Both categories are experiencing a continuous increase in value; Cognac has jumped from a total value of US$25.4m in 2021 to US$27.5m in 2022, while brandy has risen from US$18.2m in 2021 to US$19.0m in the same period, according to market research company Euromonitor.
Both brandy and Cognac are expected to yield results from the trend of premiumisation, as agreed by Amit Dahanukar, chairman and managing director of TI, and Jon Potter, managing director of Maison Courvoisier.
Brands to watch in 2023
Moët Hennessy’s leading Cognac brand made waves in 2022, opening a permanent retail outlet in London department store Harrods, expanding into the NFT market, continuous rollout of partnerships – from the US’s National Basketball Association (NBA), to architect Daniel Libeskind – and the launch of both its £55,000 scholarship programme and reforestation initiative. Awarded the title of Cognac Brand Champion 2022, Hennessy is sure to carry out further activity in 2023, as it works to retain its position at the top of the Cognac leaderboard.
This year, Mansion House debuted India’s first premium flavoured brandy, following the brand posting 25% year‐on‐year growth in its 2022 full‐year fiscal results. With the company aiming to expand its premium brandy offerings, further increase its market share in south India, and drive growth in brandy markets such as east and north‐east India, it is certainly one to keep an eye on in the brandy segment.
The Cognac outfit kicked off 2022 “with a global repositioning of the brand”, explains managing director Jon Potter. This was followed by a global campaign entitled We Found Joy, in partnership with British‐Nigerian artist Yinka Ilori, and a focus on premiumisation by introducing rare Cognac Courvoisier Mizunara and XO Royal, an ultra‐premium bottling. In 2022, the brand also began renovation of the maison in Jarnac, which will see the transformation of the house of Felix Courvoisier “into a brand home to welcome, host and entertain VIP guests”. The renovations will continue next year, when the brand will hope to accelerate “prestige business, as well as business in emerging markets”.