SPANISH BRANDY PRODUCERS ARE SET TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE OF A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE BROWN SPIRITS MARKET AS THEY CAST AN EYE TO THE FUTURE. The leading players are confident they can meet the challenge of a regenerated cognac market and the potential popularity of drinks such as Peruvian brandy pisco. And they argue that the country’s impeccable history and heritage in brandy production and the category’s ability to innovate will secure them a healthy future.
Miguel Torres Maczassek, general manager of Miguel Torres, accepts that Spanish brandy has had its ups and downs, but sees opportunities in the future. “The Spanish brandy segment has a long history and, for a long time, brandy was practically the only distillate consumed in Spain,” he says.
“In the past years the category has suffered, but we were able to keep growing in our home market. Traditionally the spirit market is subject to fashion cycles, and we have seen that, for example, gin was quite out of fashion for several years, but now gin is back. Therefore we also see some very interesting opportunities for our brandies.”
Traditionally, Spanish brandy has been consumed by men over 45 years old. Attracting a younger drinker is, therefore, one of the challenges facing the sector.
Gonzalo Medina García de Polavieja, international marketing manager at Bodegas Williams & Humbert, says the challenge facing Spanish brandy is to convey to consumers the quality of the drink. He points to the repackaging of the company’s prestige Brandy Gran Duque de Alba.
“We have a product full of history and we cherish its heritage,” he says. “We still need to make the consumer aware of the quality of this spirit. In this sense, the Brandy de Jerez sector is undergoing a moment of change as we are working to establish strategic lines and reposition the category.
“With the redesign of Gran Duque de Alba and activities such as tastings to show the versatility of this product, we continue working to rejuvenate this category.”
Maczassek at Miguel Torres agrees, recognising a segmentation of the Spanish brandy market, with traditional brandy drinkers going for the more premium brandies, and younger drinkers attracted to its younger brandies. “The younger drinkers in the upper-middle class segment are much more open to experiment and to try new products than, for example, 20 years ago,” he says.
“So this is a great opportunity for brands such as Torres, with our premium and super-premium brandy portfolio. We see that younger consumers will go more for our classic premium brandies Torres 5, Torres 10 or Torres 15, whereas the more mature ‘connoisseur’ segment will normally opt for our super-premium brandies, Torres 20 or Jaime I.
“It is, of course, great to see that we are on the right track. Drinks International just published its Brands Report of The World’s 50 Best Bars in which our brandy is in the top 10 ranking of Best Selling Brands and Best Trending Brands,” adds Maczassek.