Brandy: Point of difference

24 January, 2019

The quality of Spanish brandy is every bit as good as cognac and armagnac, but how does it come out of the French shadow? Christian Davis ruminates

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FOR MANY BRANDY DRINKERS, Spanish brandy is something you drink on holiday in its country of origin. Apart from overwhelming domestic consumption, it remains on the costas, rarely taken home for further exploration.

Having said that, 70% of total Brandy de Jerez is exported outside Spain (source: CRDO Jerez/Brandy de Jerez).

The Osborne brand’s PR director for wines and spirits, Rocío Osborne, points out: “French products such as wine, cognac, etc have this aspirational aura that Spanish brandy doesn’t yet, but I think we are going the right way.

“I don’t think cognac is better than Spanish brandy, I just think they are different products with very different characters.

“Spanish brandies have, in general, a better value-for-money ratio – what can be seen as a strength but is also a weakness. You can find amazing Spanish brandy at the price of a (French) VSOP, but with higher quality,” says Osborne

Gonzalez Byass global marketing director Eugeni Brotons boasts: “The quality of Spanish brandy can be just as good as any brandy in the world. Its point of distinction is that it is made from a different grape variety whose origins are tied to the place where it is produced. Spanish brandy can, of course, be as good as any other brandy but it depends on the brand and the quality/price sector that you, as a brand owner, are aiming at.”

Juan Torres Master Distillers global spirits director Michael La Terrière says: “Yes it is true. For many years it seemed that brandy had to come from two small regions of France to be taken seriously. Yet there are really many great brandies produced around the world, and particularly here in Spain. What we have been seeing in the past years is a resurgence of interest in the brandy category linked to the mixology boom. People often forget that brandy was actually one of the original cocktail spirits, and many of the great cocktails, such as Sidecars and Crustas, are brandy cocktails.”

QUALITY AND CRAFT

Osborne says: “We are focusing on creating premium or ultra-premium brandies that can compete not only with cognac but with premium dark spirits in general. And with Carlos I, despite being premium, we are encouraging mixing it and therefore appealing to younger consumers and creative mixologists.”

Brotons responds: “Looking specifically at origin at González Byass we believe that Brandy de Jerez will be one of the first to reassert that protagonism in the category. It is a product with a long history, tied to an area of Spain and very specific conditioning factors in the way it is made and aged, all of which ultimately guarantee quality.

“Consumer trends are moving toward products that are legitimate, relevant, have a history and added value – and with strong connections to the place where they are made. Brands such as Lepanto, the only gran reserva Brandy de Jerez which is 100% from Jerez, has all of the factors which appeal to these consumer trends,” adds Brotons.





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