Brands Report: Brandy & Cognac

09 January, 2018

Hennessy dominates but brands with an Asian presence are gaining traction, says Hamish Smith

It says something of Hennessy’s dominance that it has been found to be the best-selling brandy in bars in each of our nine polls. It’s an all-rounder, with big volume at VS level and expressions at the luxury end of the business. Pretty much every market worth worrying about is covered by the LVMH-owned brand and in the bar channel Hennessy has no equal. Of course, distribution is greatly aided by Diageo, which owns a third of the brand. This year Hennessy was as dominant as ever – it was the house cognac in a quarter of those bars polled and was one of the three most popular in more than half.

If one coganc brand can knock Hennessy off its perch, it is unlikely to come from the traditional Big Four – which also includes Martell, Rémy Martin or Courvoisier – but a specialist in the bar world: Pierre Ferrand. In 16% of the sampled bars it was the house pour but was on the roster in just under 30%. It is now the third consecutive year that Pierre Ferrand has been runner-up to Hennessy in our poll but, by topping the Trending list too, it looks to be moving in the right direction.

As Asian bars continue to develop on the world stage and take a larger share of our 100-strong sample of world’s best bars, this could play into the hands of those cognacs with a strong Asian presence. Martell particularly could profit. The Pernod Ricard brand has leapfrogged Rémy Martin, which is traditionally known for its XO products, with a third of our polled bars counting on the brand as key to their inventory.

Torres stands alone as the only brandy not from France in the list. The Catalonian spirit, which bartenders prize for its rich, rounded and oaky profile, is a point of difference to the more delicate cognacs in the market.



The results of this report are the culmination of a questionnaire of 106 bars around the world, each cherry-picked to take part based on their performance in global bar awards. We aim to find out not only which brands sell best but also what’s trending. These two data sets give us an insight into the brands that are doing the most volume and the brands that are hot right now.

To read more on the methodology of the Brands Report click here.

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