Brandy Snaps

10 January, 2014

Hegarty says: “According to South African legislation we must mature the brandy for a minimum of three years, which is tightly regulated. When the age is stated on the bottle – for instance five, 10 and 20 years – the youngest component must be of that age. Also, all brandy must be distilled in copper pot stills. That is not the case with all American and European brandies. Further we have a maximum cask size for maturation of 340 litres.

“Brandy in the South African market is in decline mainly due to the growing popularity of whisky and white spirits. Whisky and vodka have created an aspirational appeal for the South African consumer. Having said that, brandy has only itself to blame for not delivering on these consumer trends,” says Hegarty.

Snyman agrees that while the mainstream South African market has shown short-term volume decline, there is growth among the high-end prestige brands. She believes there is a new appetite for luxury brandies driven by several factors, including affluent South Africans wanting to support South African products.

Hegarty says: “Internationally, brandy is deemed not as prestigious a category as Cognac. Consumers are surprised that intrinsically our brandies are the same as and at times better than Cognac. Witness our KWV 15 being awarded Best Brandy in the World in 2013 (ISC) judged against the top Cognacs.”

Snyman says: “With three styles of brandy made in South Africa – pot still, vintage and blended – it is such a versatile spirit. Traditionally, with brandy being South Africa’s favourite spirit, most production was taken up by the local market and there was little impetus to export. 

“Now, with the growing affluence across Africa, that is changing and there is growing demand for South African brandies beyond our borders,” she says. Spain is the other significant producer of ‘other brandies.’ Torres is Spain’s best known wine producer and it also makes brandies. 

General manager Miguel Torres Maczassek tells DI: “My family has distilled brandies since 1928. Our portfolio consists of Torres 5, Torres 10 (best seller), Torres 15 (launched this November in México), Torres 20 – twice decorated as Best Brandy of the World.” 

He continues: “In Spain the brandy category has suffered a significant decline in the past years due to changes in consumption habits, a more restrictive legal environment and, of course, a very negative economic situation. Given these complicated circumstances, we are happy that Torres brandy is maintaining its volumes,” he says.

“Internationally, we see the brandy category growing. In Europe for example, where the economic downturn has affected several countries, brandy has come forward as an affordable alternative to Cognac. 

“In emerging countries the ‘imported brandy’ category is growing because it is a way to demonstrate family economic improvement. But in this segment we also see intense competition with categories such as whisky and vodka. For us the Mexican market is key and where our brand continues to be strong,” says Torres Maczassek.

González Byass international sales director Nicolás Bertino says: “Brandy is the fourth most important alcoholic beverage consumed in Spain, making up 11.4% of the total national consumption.”

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