My head was spinning yesterday afternoon and it wasn’t just because I’d sampled all three products in the Bisquit Cognac range with lunch. Sales of Scotch whisky in France are now equal to the sales of Cognac worldwide, according to Bisquit president Vincent Chappe. Meanwhile, Cognac in South Africa grew at 70% last year.
There are 75 000ha under vine, 5 000 growers and 200 distillers in Cognac and annual production is about 600 000 hectolitres of pure alcohol a year. Bisquit is the sixth biggest brand globally behind Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, Courvoisier and Camus. The stuff’s got to go somewhere and therefore smart thinking by local liquor company Distell to buy Bisquit in 2009.
The Bisquit VS retails locally for between R290 and R320 a bottle, the VSOP between R490 and R520 and the XO between R1 300 and R1 800. While the VS is rather straightforward, the VSOP is very good and the XO outstanding.
While the regulation for XO is that the blend should contain no portion aged for less than six years, the Bisquit version includes 50% aged for 25 years and 50% aged for between 10 and 14 years. Hugely complex, it shows ripe orange, honey, nuts and spice plus a savoury, almost rancio note. In structure, meanwhile, it appears light and ethereal. Classy stuff.