If there’s one thing that really makes our blood boil then it’s hearing yet another story about fake cognac products. And it’s not only substandard products that the unscrupulous try to pass off as eaux-de-vie, but the BNIC also has an ongoing fight to protect the name of cognac as a geographical indicator.

A brandy can only be marketed under the name of cognac if it meets very strict criteria. The first is that it is produced from wine that’s grown in one of the geographically recognised AOC cognac growing areas; Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois and Bois Ordinaires. And then the production of the eaux-de-vie itself needs to adhere to extremely stringent conditions.


The BNIC works tirelessly to ensure that this is upheld. There have been many cases of various companies being taken to court over the mis-use of the word cognac.

Of course, it’s essential for the continuing protection of the standard of cognac for these boundaries to be constantly monitored. But it’s not only cognac that has such problems.  You’re probably familiar with items such as handbags, watches and currency. But it certainly surprised us with some of the other products that the crooks are making money by forging:


Yes, really.  Walnuts.  In China, Walnuts are a prized asset.  Because the country provides limited options for those with money to invest, many of the wealthy Chinese have begun to put their money into walnuts.  Walnuts are seen in China as an object of luxury; a pair circled in the palm of the hand is said to stimulate circulation.  And the older and more alike the pair, the better. Amazingly, a pair of walnuts was listed on the Chinese walnut trading website for an incredible $31,000 US dollars.

Fake Cognac Walnuts

But this has led to an opportunity for the con artists, who fill empty shells with cement and then sell them to unsuspecting customers…


Hitting the news some months ago was the now infamous fake Apple Store in, in Kunming, Southern China.  Complete with trendy, techno savvy sales assistants, this was only one of a multitude of fake stores that have popped up in various cities around the country.


Who’d have thought that cheese would ever suffer a similar fate to cognac?  But cheese makers in Wisconsin, USA, are having to prepare themselves for the likelihood of being being banned from using names such as Feta, Parmesan and Gorgonzola.  And this is due to the EU arguing that these names are geographical indicators in the same way as the word cognac.

Fake Cognac Gorgonzola

With cheese a massive industry in North America, this has certainly stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy on both sides.

Whatever the product, it seems that if there’s money to be made, then there’s going to be some crook out there who wants to fake it.  And whilst there are many good organisations out there looking after our rights, it still boils down to the individual to ensure that the product they buy is genuine.  Caveat emptor, and all that…


Sources: businessinsider.com, dailymail.co.uk, telegraph.co.uk

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

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