How consumers from around the world like their Cognac:

Cognac in France
In France, Cognac is still considered by consumers as an after-dinner drink the way tradition dictated it. Cognac and Tonic became quite popular and thanks to the large variety of sodas and fruit juices it can be associated with, cognac as a long drink is picking up quickly. Still, Cognac is far less popular than Whisky in France. Only 5% of produced Cognac stays in France.

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United Kingdom: In the United Kingdom, Cognac has always been a very important drink. Since the knowledge of distillation came from the UK. Either drunk straight or with ginger ale (Horse’s Neck), Cognac (VS and older qualities) are present in the English society. Old vintage Cogacs are stocked in warehouses in Bristol.
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Germany
In Germany, Cognac is considered as a deluxe but old drink. Its consumption, almost exclusively straight. Generally Cognac is a symbol of status or comfort, often consumed after a heavy meal. One of the big Cognac houses even stopped its distribution in Germany, concentrating more on Asian markets. Brandies and Weinbrand are popular in Germany.

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Eastern countries
In Eastern countries, cognac is drunk straight or mixed with Coke, often before meals and almost exclusively by men – but this is about to change. Today it is the sign of wealth of “new Russians” but the drink seems to gain popularity in the middle class. Women are starting to drink Cognac in longdrinks and cocktails – so it’s sweet. The eastern european market presents a very high product loyalty and the luxury market in general is becoming more and more important in that region.

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Italy
In Italy, Cognac is drunk at a bar, presented as a gift or you have it with friends. It’s all about status and appreciated by brandy connoisseurs.

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Denmark and Norway
Denmark and Norway (like all northern European countries) are exceptions on the European Cognac markets: Danes are victims of a very high tax level but they just love Cognac! Served in restaurants and at home, these countries have long Cognac traditions.

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Japan
There was an extreme sales increase in the 80’s in Japan, linked to the general economic boom of that time. Money was spent in night clubs and bars, which is still the case. Cognac almost replaced whisky as the favorite drink of “salarymen”; mizuwari – a mix of Cognac and water.
The water comes from North Pole, apparently it was considered the most stylish thing to do.

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China and Chinese diaspora: Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia
China is the rising market for Cognac: growing and growing, even in the crisis the sales were more or less stable. The image of Cognac is: health and wealth. Just like Champagne in France, Cognac is associated with celebrations, but what’s more: it’s western and it’s expensive. So Chinese yuppies and rich kids love to get their nose into far western, European, non-chinese stuff. It’s consumed in night clubs, in the family, social events, weddings, banquets, New Year’s eve (very important: it boosted this years Cognac results) or Seventh Moon. The Chinese drink it with water, but also mixed with tea (So Yang has got the right trend).

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Thailand
This country presents very specific drinking habits and Cognac is much appreciated as a gift. They basically mix Cognac with anything: Water, Ice cubes, Coke, Sprite, 7UP… but bottles that give hangover got quite a bad reputation.
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Mexico
Traditionally a very important consumer of brandy, and Cognac gets more important in Southern America. Basically VSOP quality or better is served, straight or mixed with soda. The most popular mixdrink is “campechana”: Cognac, Ice, Coca-Cola and club soda with a twist of lime.

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United States
The United States of America is by far the largest Cognac market in the world. Cognac is basically being drunk by African Americans and Hispanics, differing from the “whites with their Whiskey”. So the afro-american community mixes the “Yak” with all sorts of drinks (Coke, juices etc.). The recently released VS Cognac Conjure, introduced by Rapper Ludacris, is the best example for US consumption: rather young Cognac is sold to African-American (R&B and Rap scene in particular).

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Conclusion

There is a major shift to drinking Cognac as a mixdrink, especially in the US but also in Charente, France. People realized that they would have to adapt the drink and accept the younger generation’s needs, which includes sweet cocktails. Drinking neat is more a grandpa’s thing, the new customers might think.

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Max is a spirits expert and speaker, into marketing, technology, startups, and business development. He’s also a farmer. He likes tools and machines, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul. Included in his Top 10 Cognacs are the Audry XO and Bache Gabrielsen 1973.Max founded Cognac Expert in 2010 at his family’s estate in Poullignac, in the Cognac region, France. Started as a blog, today Cognac Expert is the world’s largest website about all things Cognac, a blog, and a specialized online shop featuring 800+ different Cognac bottles.

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