2020 Cognac Trend Predictions

Cognac continues to evolve globally given the interest in craft cocktails, particularly in pre-prohibition cocktails. With the United States being the first cognac market (102.4 million cognac bottles imported in 2019) it has diversified the many ways cognac can be consumed, from sipping it neat to using it as the base for trendy and originating cocktails. A recent study by Beverage Dynamics points to millennials spending up for premium spirits and cocktails. In the past 12 months, spirits priced $25 and up have increased in sales by 13.2%.

With millennials favoring the full imbibing experience—with an emphasis on ingredients — bartenders and stirrers are shifting with the trends.

COGNAC EDUCATORS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY SHARED TRENDS THEY CURRENTLY SEE AND PREDICT FOR 2020

LESS DRINKING, HIGHER QUALITY

Dan Nicolaescu, Beverage Director of Brandy Library and Copper and Oak (New York, NY)

It is my experience that, generally speaking, people are drinking less but of higher quality. I see interest in trying cognac growing steadily, especially towards neat pours. It seems that preferences steer toward cognacs with a lighter wood influence but fairly well developed, in the 10-25 years range.

As far as cocktails go, I can envision bartenders focusing on quality by using small quantities of high-quality old cognac as an accent in a drink. It can provide unique flavors to the final product and is also more financially sensible.

MODERN MIXOLOGY SIMPLIFIED

Miguel F. Lancha, ThinkGoodGroup Cocktail Director (Washington, DC)

One trend that I have seen working with cognac is younger bartenders are showing an interest in wanting to learn about it, whether it’s at a bar training session or an industry seminar.

The interest in classic cocktails has been around for a while now, but many bartenders are going back to being more flexible and creative with cocktails. I see an opportunity for guests to be more exposed to cognac by trying drinks that combine it with cool techniques. Bartenders are continuing to modify the textures and structures of drink components by clarifying, carbonating, making a slushy, etc. They’re doing it in a way that’s not in your face or over the top, which is intriguing guests and exposing them up to Cognac in cocktails.

PRESENTATION WITH LEVITY

Kellie Thorn, Hugh Acheson Restaurants Beverage Director (Atlanta, GA)

While we are still having a hard time getting guests to order cognac on its own the way they do whiskey, we are seeing a lot of cognac cocktails sell.

I think that the key to reaching a younger audience is presenting the spirit and category with some levity. I obviously love the heritage and tradition behind these spirits, but we should approach it with a little irreverence.

Split your pour of cognac neat with some amaro, think of more tropical applications, add it to your spritz build, and in general make cognac feel like something that doesn’t have to have a lot of pomp and circumstance around it to enjoy it.

LOWER-ABV COCKTAILS

Joseph Erhmann of Elixir, Elixir to Go and Cocktail Ambassadors (San Francisco, CA)

There is an opportunity for cognac to take advantage of its great flavor intensity by mixing shorter pours (.5-1 ounce) with light mixers, like the multitude of uniquely flavored tonics to make low- ABV drinks. I particularly like a VSOP with Fever-Tree Aromatic Tonic and expressed lemon oil or a young, fruity VS with a dry grapefruit soda like Q Grapefruit.

https://www.cognac.fr/

 

 

Cognac Reports Record Export Growth

For the fourth consecutive year, exports of Cognac have increased, reaching record numbers in both volume and value.

With nearly 98% of total production exported, the Cognac appellation continued to grow its export markets in 2018, with growth of more than 3% in volume and 2% in value. 204.2 million bottles of cognac were shipped in 2018 – resulting in 3.2 billion euros (roughly 3.6 billion dollars) in revenue.


Dynamic Growth in All Major Markets

Cognac exports to the NAFTA Zone (represents 44.4% of exports) continue to make progress, with 90.6 million bottles shipped in 2018 for an increase of 5.2% in volume and 0.7% in value. The United States continues to be Cognac’s largest market with 87.4 million bottles shipped in 2018.

The East Asian market continues to grow, with 60.1 million bottles (an increase of 5.6% in volume and 3.7% in value). The exports to China continue to drive growth in the zone despite a slight decrease during the second semester.

Continental Europe exports have declined (-5.3% in volume and – 2.2% in value), for a total of nearly 39.4 million bottles shipped. This decline can be attributed to the difficult economic and political times in some of its markets.

Continued Potential for Development in the Rest of the World
Increased exports also continue in other areas with high potential for Cognac in countries such as South Africa, Vietnam, and the Caribbean. Exports to these markets rose by 10.4% in volume and 7.1% in value. Additionally, these new areas of opportunity represent more than 6.9% of total exports, or nearly 14.1 million bottles.

Exports Increase for V.S., V.S.O.P and Older Categories
The export of V.S. (50% of total volume), and V.S.O.P. (almost 40% of total volume) continue to grow in volume and are up by 2.6 and 3.5% respectively. Value for both remained stable (only down by 0.3%).
Representing 11.5% of total volume, the older categories witnessed a growth of 7.5% in volume and 6.3% in value.

The 2018 Harvest Supports Positive Export Figures
With a total volume yield of 126.8 hl/ha (compared to 88.95 hl/ha for the previous harvest) or a yield of pure alcohol of 13.06 hl AP/ha, the production in barrels will be between 970,000 and 980,000 hl AP.

This level of production would be greater than the region’s original business objectives which had been estimated at 902,000 hl AP put in barrel this year, a figure that many trade professionals feared would be too low to meet the demand.

The growth of shipments during the year confirms the forecasts announced by the BNIC’s (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) business plan. BNIC President Patrick Raguenaud states, “Cognac professionals remain confident in the future prospects and are ambitiously planning to ensure the demands of export markets are always met.”

Source: BNIC

LOUIS XIII Cognac Integrates NFC Technology into its “Smart Decanter”

Launching February 2019, LOUIS XIII will step into the future by integrating NFC technology into its Smart Decanter to provide clients a seamless access to an exclusive world of privileges. Each decanter will directly connect clients to the LOUIS XIII Society, a private club where members can enjoy exclusive content, unique experiences and personalized services through their smartphones.

After removing the seal, clients can tap and scan their NFC-enabled smartphones on the cork stopper to access the LOUIS XIII Society landing page to create or log into their account. The decanter number will then be automatically registered.

With this NFC chip, LOUIS XIII clients will get facilitated access to all the advantages of the LOUIS XIII Society. This private club offers bespoke services such as customized decanter engraving, pre-releases of limited editions, contact with a LOUIS XIII Personal Advisor for private tastings and ultimate experiences, and an invitation to network with LOUIS XIII Cognac connoisseurs registered all over the world. In addition, the LOUIS XIII Smart Decanter will bring added services to clients allowing them to customize gifting messages that will appear when recipients scan their decanter.

“Every LOUIS XIII decanter will feature this smart solution worldwide. At LOUIS XIII, we place clients at the very heart of everything we do, striving to offer them always the best experiences,” said Ludovic du Plessis, LOUIS XIII Global Executive Director. “This innovation will be launched globally starting February 2019 and will be deployed all over the world the following months.”

NFC TECHNOLOGY
NFC enables simple, rapid, intuitive and secure communication between two electronic objects. A mature and robust technology which has been growing in the past 20 years being used mainly by bank cards, biometric passports and travel tickets – until now. Today, with the introduction of contactless payment, connected wearables and the Internet of Things, NFC technology is reinventing the way we experience life.

LOUIS XIII Society is a private members club for owners of LOUIS XIII Cognac decanters. http://www.louisxiii-society.com

Another Record year in Cognac: 200 million bottles shipped

For the fourth straight year, exports of Cognac have continued their steady rise

For the fourth straight year, exports of Cognac have continued their steady rise, with an increase of 8.2% in volume and 5.4% in value. The previous record of bottles shipped (200 million) has been surpassed, with 205.9 million bottles shipped between August 2017 and July 2018. With 3.2 billion euros (roughly 300 billion dollars) in revenue, Cognac contributes significantly to France’s trade surplus in the wines and spirits sector, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total value of French wine and spirits exports and placing Cognac at the top of the major appellations.

Cognac consolidated its position in the NAFTA zone with 89.8 million bottles shipped. This translates to an increase of 9.4% in volume and 0.2% in value, in the 9th consecutive year of growth2. The United States remains the leading market, with 86.5 million bottles shipped during the period. “The brown spirits category is growing in the US market. The historical presence of cognac and the constant investment by the Cognac houses in this market have reinforced the performance of cognac in the U.S.,” explains Patrick Raguenaud, President of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

The East Asian market continues to grow, with 60.9 million bottles shipped (an increase of 13.5% in volume and 12.4% in value). China is driving growth in this zone, with nearly 26.2 million bottles shipped. For Patrick Raguenaud, “these good results confirm China’s continued appetite for Cognac, even with transitions currently taking place in that market.”

Shipments to continental Europe remain stable with a slight loss of 2.0% in volume but a rise of 3% in value, for a total shipment of more than 41.3 million bottles. These results are due to a small decrease in exports to western and northern Europe and growth in Russia and Latvia. “Particularly in the United Kingdom, our largest European market, shipments remain stable, despite the uncertainties of Brexit,” says Patrick Raguenaud.

Significant potential for development in the rest of the world

Increased exports also continue in other areas, with strong potential for Cognac in countries such as South Africa, Vietnam, Oceania and the Caribbean4. Exports to these markets rose by 12.2% in volume and 5.3% in value. All together, these promising markets represent more than 6.7% of total exports, or nearly 13.9 million bottles.

Exports increase for all categories: V.S., V.S.O.P. and Hors d’Âge

Representing 50% of total volume, the V.S., V.S.O.P. and older categories—including Napoléon, X.O. and Hors d’Âge—continue to play a prominent role in Cognac’s strong performance5. The success of V.S. (minimum 2 years aging) cognac continues to be driven by the North American market–which accounts for half of all cognac shipments—growing in volume by 6% and in value by 4.1%.

Representing a little less than 40% of the production, V.S.O.P. (minimum 4 years aging) shipments increased by 10% in volume and 2.1% in value. Napoléon (minimum 6 years aging), X.O. and Hors d’Âge (minimum 10 years aging, respectively) are also experiencing significant growth with a rise of 12.4% in volume and 10.3% in value, thanks to strong results in East Asia.

According to Patrick Raguenaud, «the good momentum we are experiencing today in these three quality-designated categories can be explained by cognac’s strength in all markets, with varied consumption patterns.

Cognac: spearheading French wine and spirits exports

According to the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France (Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits of France) and the Fédération Française des Spiritueux (French Federation of Spirits), 2017 saw French spirits exports reach new records and break the € 4 billion mark, for a total of 437 million liters (an increase of 2.4%). Cognac, accounting for 70% of the value of spirits exports, gave a strong boost to the overall value. In addition, Cognac now represents nearly a quarter of the total value of all French wine and spirits exports.

Christophe Forget, Vice President of the BNIC, comments on cognac’s growth, which confirms its dynamism and international influence: “Cognac growers and négociants are confident in their future prospects and continue to fully invest in the development of the appellation, the markets and the quality of their products.”

 

Source: Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

Cognac XO classification to rise to 10 years

 

 

The BNIC (BNIC Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) has recently announced that the classification for XO Cognac is set to change on April 1, 2018.

What does this mean?

This means that the youngest eau-de-vie included in a blended Cognac labelled XO* must be aged in barrels for at least 10 years, instead of the 6 years previously required.

 

A statement from BNIC recently explained that: “The new measure aims align the regulation and the market reality, and also to extend the quality positioning of XO (XO covering ‘Out of Age’, ‘Extra’, ‘Ancestral’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Imperial’ designations as well).”

The change was first raised back in 2011 and the interim has been to allow brands to adapt to the change, although the BNIC also noted that many were already using 10-year-old eaux-de-vie for their XOs.

If a producer has not sold through its stocks of younger XO, any spirits classified as XO bottled by 31 March (though not yet shipped) that contain spirit of six, seven, eight or nine years will be allowed to be sold until March 31, 2019. Producers wishing to take advantage of this however will have to make a declaration to the BNIC.

The designation of ‘Napoleon’ Cognac will remain unchanged with the minimum required age of the spirit used being six years.