Home » Spirits » Cognac » Cognac Update

Cognac Update

26 January 2012

As I write this, I’m still in France, soaking up all there is to soak in the lovely city of Bordeaux. The International Cognac Summit was exhausting, but an absolute joy to attend. The Bureau National Interprofessionel de Cognac organized a wonderful event full of exciting people, fascinating visits and, of course, gorgeous Cognacs.

One of the most memorable round tables took place the first morning, when the group discussed ways to draw more women to Cognac. The Americans and Brits tossed around various ideas, seeming to agree that appealing Cognac-based cocktails were a big part of the answer. As people debated what ingredients and styles of cocktails women might most enjoy (I say quality ingredients in a delicious combination, the same as men, but what do I know?), I realized the French contingent hadn’t offered any ideas.

I said, “I’d like to hear from our French colleagues on this question. Since 97% of Cognac is exported, it seems to me there’s a huge opportunity here in France to sell more Cognac. What do you think?” I was expecting perhaps some ideas about ways to counter the French stereotype that women who drink Cognac are at best old fashioned, and at worst alcoholics and “bad mothers.”

After a long, silent pause, the moderator interjected, “Maybe Pierre, since you’re a bartender, you would be good to ask?”

I repeated the question, and Pierre (not his real name) replied, “Well, the marketing dollars go where the Cognac is selling, so they don’t have the chance to market so much here in France, because most Cognac is sold abroad. Also, you have to understand that advertising alcohol, it’s not the same as in the U.S. We have laws, so, you can’t just put up a billboard the way you can in America.”

Unimpressed by these rather strange excuses, I asked, “So it’s just hopeless?”

After some noises of consternation started bubbling forth, the moderator was forced to cut off the discussion. We were running late.

Working on ways to draw more women to drinking Cognac was a fine theme for the summit, and a fascinating one as well. But for next year’s summit, it might be wise to devote it to convincing the French themselves to drink more Cognac. There’s clearly a lot of work to be done right at home!


3 Comments to “Cognac Update”

  1. Many thanks for your analysis
    I would be very pleased to be with you during this conversation…
    Today we deal 41% of our production in France and are very glad to offer some very high level quality… (12% more this year in France for +20% outside).
    Yes perhaps, we have to work to come back the first drinker of Cognac but we are ready and opened for this challenge…
    Pierre Vaudon

  2. sorry for my english written

    • Hi Pierre,

      That is excellent you sell so much of your Cognac (Francois Voyer) in France itself. Whatever you are doing to market your Cognac to the French must be working – I hope some of the other houses follow your example.

      But perhaps it is indeed because the French discovered how delicious your Cognacs are. I remember tasting your VS, VSOP and XO the first evening of the summit, and I was definitely impressed.

      And there is no need to apologize for your English. It is much, much better than my French!

      –Rob Frisch

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.