Luxury tipples manage to capture more share

Three per cent growth may only be just

above inflation - but in a market that has been virtually static for three years, it is a significant climb.

The top three brandy and Cognac brands have grown their share

from around one-third to 37 per cent, and Philippe Rochelle has knocked Jules Clairon out of the top five.

Interestingly, the top three all sit next to each other just outside the top 10 spirits in the overall top 50, with just one or two million pounds in sales between them. If all

experienced the same growth they saw this year again, their values would be virtually equal, with Martell overtaking Three Barrels and nipping at the heels of the more steadily growing Courvoisier.

Cognac dominates the brandy market - its more rural, less brand-driven neighbour Armagnac and brandies from other countries, such as Spain, don't make it into the top 50 spirits.

Worldwide, Cognac sells 157 million bottles a year - making it the world's most popular eau-de-vie - and it saw steady growth to 980,000 cases in the UK in the year to April 2007, according to the Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac.

BNIC marketing and communications director Jérôme Durand said: "The growth of Cognac is down to the fact that it meets consumer needs for premium and luxury goods and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. We know that, today, 70-80 per cent of Cognac drunk does not concern the older Cognacs taken as a digestif, but

younger Cognacs enjoyed on ice, in long drinks or cocktails."

Courvoisier has been targeting the luxury end of the market and pushing Cognac cocktails in the on-trade

and through its

Earn It campaign,

which aimed

experiential promotions at

workers in Canary Wharf at Christmas, and sampled Cognac with mixers in Waitrose. In spring the

brand launched a competition looking for "go-getters" in business.

Cognac and brandy are also making their way into

luxury own-labels. Sainsbury's has

Taste the Difference Armagnac, Calvados and Cognac, while Morrisons says it will release a The Best Cognac.

Off-trade Cognac & brandy value

Year to

11/8/2007: £254 million

Year to

16/07/2006: £247 million

Change from Aug 2006: +3%

Top five Cognac & brandy brands

1 Courvoisier +2%

2 Three Barrels +8%

3 Martell +12%

4 Rémy Martin 0%

5 Philippe Rochelle +12%

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