Cognac is a type of brandy named after the area of Cognac, France. Cognac is a prestigious spirit, falling under the French appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) designation, meaning it must be produced and named to meet specific legal requirements.
To create a cognac, the brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged for at least two years in French oak barrels.
Cognac is certainly a recognizable name and typically associated with upscale liquor and spirits. But who makes the world’s cognac? Below are the top 10 largest Cognac brands in the world.
DETAILED LIST OF THE 10 LARGEST COGNAC AND BRANDY BRANDS
Emperador. Quezon City, Philippines
2019 Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 25.3m
Owned by Alliance Global Group, Emperador is a Philippines-based brandy, where it is primarily sold. Emperador launched in 1990 as the Philippines’ first brandy label and has since expanded its brand footprint. Since 2006, it has been the world’s top-selling brandy brand in terms of qualities told.
As of 2015, the brand was estimated to hold a 97% share of the brandy market and 50% of the spirits market across the Philippines. The company sells various brandy products, including Emperador Light, a brandy liqueur, Emperador Deluxe, a true brandy, and Emperador Solera Reservada, their strongest of the three.
In 2016, Emperador was awarded a rating of 89 points and a silver award (highly recommended) by the International Review of Spirits. Its Emperador Light was rated at 83 points and awarded a bronze award (recommended).
Hennessy Cadillac. Cognac, France
2019 Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 7.8m
Jas Hennessy Co., also known as simply Hennessy, is a French cognac distilled in Cognac, France. Irish Jacobite military officer Richard Hennessy founded the original Hennessy cognac distillery in 1765.
The business was family-run for many generations before merging with Louis Vuitton in 1987 to create one of the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerates, Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy or LVMH.
Hennessy variety includes a lengthy list of products, including various collectors’ bottles such as Hennessy VS “44” (in honor of 44th president, Barack Obama), Hennessy VSP Helios (Gold bottle), Hennessy VSOP Kyrios (Black bottle with 3D label), among others. Hennessy is frequently discussed in popular music.
The organization also sponsors the New Irish Writing competition in the Irish Independent.
Dreher (Campari Group). Milan, Italy
2019 Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 3.1m
Dreher originates in 1910 in the Southern region of Bento Goncalves, an area associated with wine production in Brazil. Dreher was acquired in 1973 by Heublein and later on by Gruppo Campari. Gruppo Campari or The Campari Group is an Italian company that has been active in the branded beverage industry since 1860.
Its signature product is Campari Bitter, but they produce various spirits, wines, and soft drinks, including the brandy Dreher. In 2001, the group completed an IPO on Piazza Affari, which was Italy’s biggest IPO that year. The company’s shares were priced lower, and the initial public offering was three times oversubscribed.
This allowed them to acquire Dreher Aguardiente, as well as the Old Eight, Dry’s, Gregson’s and Gold Cup whiskies, and Liebfraumilch wine. Dreher offers a full-bodied amber color, distilled and produced with cane sugar and natural vegetable extracts.
Old Admiral Brandy (Radico Khaitan). Uttar Pradesh, India
2019 Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 3.0m
Old Admiral Brandy is marketed mainly towards men and ranked one of the highest brandy brands in the world. Owned by Radico Khaitan Ltd., an Indian company that manufactures industrial alcohol, Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL), country liquor, and fertilizers, Old Admiral Brandy is fourth on our list of cognac and brandy brands.
Radico Khaitan was established in 1943, initially producing extra neutral alcohol (ENA) and supplying bulk alcohol for several different liquor companies. As time went on, the company grew its brand portfolio, including Scotch blended whisky, Beck’s beer, wines from EJ Gallo, and others.
In November 2005, they entered the vodka market, finally entering the brandy market in May 2009. In 2011, they entered into an agreement with Japanese firm Suntory Liquors Ltd. to market and distribute Yamazaki single malt and Hibiki blended whisky.
Along with Old Admiral Brandy, the company produces brandy brands 8 PM Excellency Brandy, Morpheus, Morpheus Blue, and Florence.
Martell. Cognac, France
2019 Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 2.6m
Martell was initially founded in 1715 by Jean Martell, a young merchant originally from Jersey. He created his own trading business at Gatebourse in Cognac, France, founding one of the world’s first cognac houses. After he died in 1753, his widow, two sons, and grandson continued his tradition and developed an export business.
Martell then became the number one brand of cognac in English in 1814. Over time, the business expanded internationally, and fame spread throughout the world. They began exporting to Japan and other Asian markets, such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Korea.
Cordon Bleu, one of the company’s most famous products, was created in 1912, and in 1987 the company came under the control of the French manufacturer, Seagram. Later, Seagram was acquired by Pernod Ricard. Martell created new cognacs in the 2000s, including Martell XO, Martell Creation Grand Extra, and others.
Rémy Martin. Cognac, France
Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 2.3m
Rémy Martin is a French company primarily responsible for producing and selling cognac. The business was founded in 1724 in the commune of Cognac, France, and is one of the largest cognac producers in the world. Rémy Martin comes from the name of the founder who was born in 1695 near Rouillac in southwestern France.
In 1724, he created a trading house of cognac. After he died in 1773, his grandson pursued the business. In 1910, André Renaud, a partner in E. Rémy Martin, took the lead and, in 1927, launched their first VSOP Fine Champagne. After this period, Rémy Martin began sales worldwide.
As of 1991, the House of Rémy Martin was incorporated into a family group. Rémy Martin partners with various artists to represent its cognacs, including actor Jeremy Renner, Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming, and Taiwanese mandopop singer Jolin Tasi.
Courvoisier (Beam Suntory). Charente, France
Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 1.4m
Courvoisier is a brand of cognac owned by Beam Suntory, produced in Jarnac in the Charente region of France. Courvoisier was established in Paris, France in 1835. Founder Emmanual Courvoisier started a wine and spirit company with partner Louis Gallois, the mayor of their town.
Their original crafting process is over 200 years old and has not changed since its establishment. Napoleon Bonaparte was credited with saying he wanted his artillery companies to have a ration of cognac during the Napoleonic Wars.
He also took several cognac barrels with him to St. Helena, appreciated by English officers who named it “the Cognac of Napoleon.”
Courvoisier has done several partnerships in the fashion industry, including with famed Art Deco designer Erté, who was commissioned to create a limited edition Courvoisier bottle. It is consistently listed as one of the world’s top-rated brandies and cognacs.
McDowell’s No. 1. Karnataka, India
Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 1.4m
This Indian brand of spirits is manufactured by United Spirits Limited (USL), a Diageo subsidiary. McDowell’s is USLs major brand and the largest umbrella spirits brand globally, consisting of three different categories: whisky, brandy, and rum. They also produce and sell bottled water and soda.
The company was founded in India in 1898, with an overseas brand of McDowells in Scotland. The UB Group of Vittal Mallya acquired the company. In 1959, Mallya established McDowell’s first distillery and began to bottle BIsquit Brandy and Dorvilel French Brandy.
McDowell’s No. 1 Brandy was launched in 1963 and the first McDowell’s No. 1 branded product. It created a template for the rest of the No.1 brands that the company would later launch.
Bodegas Torres. Vilafranca del Penedès, Spain
Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 1.3m
Bodegas Torress was founded in 1870 by Jaime Torres as a historical wine-growing company. Torres the family winery boasts the most extensive vineyards in Penedes and the largest winery in Spain. Jaime Torres emigrated to Cuba in 1855, where he made a fortune in the flourishing oil industry.
In 1870 he returned home with his riches and went into business with his brother, a winegrower. Today, the Torres name brand produces both trade wine and brandy under a range of different labels, including Viña Sol, De Casta, Coronas, Atrium, and Viña Esmeralda, with their best-known brandies being Torres 5 and Torres 10.
The company is still family-owned and managed, currently in the hands of fourth-generation Miguel A. Torress, the company’s current President and Managing Director.
Old Kenigsberg (Alliance-1892). Kaliningrad, Russia
Case Sales (by nine-liter case sales): 1.3m
Owned by Alliance-1892 for over ten years, Old Kenigsberg is the largest company producing Russian cognac and supplying it to domestic and foreign markets. The Alliance-1892 are a group of companies including the Wine and Brandy Company “Alliance-1892” and the Wine and Brandy trading house.
The production plant is located in the Chernyakhovsk Kaliningrad region. The Wine and Brandy Company dates back to 1876. For almost half a century, the farm went through various changes, including ruin after the 1917 revolution. Today, it is restored and named one of the most professional companies in the field of winemaking.
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