A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
The new expression comes from the finishing period of the eaux-de-vie, following the final blending process. The eaux-de-vie for Mature Cask Finish, which makes up 20% of Rémy’s VSOP output, is left to marry in mature casks, while the remaining 80% is finished in large oak vats.
The mature Limousin oak casks – which are at least 20 years old – are said to ‘enhance fruity notes’. The new expression is packaged in a clear bottle – a deperture of the signature black bottle used for its VSOP.
Rémy claims to sell 5000 bottles of its VSOP every day and the new expression will not differ in price from the original. (£30/€35).
Rémy Martin CEO Patrick Piana told Drinks International: “To remain the same, we have to reinvent but be true to ourselves.
“We see it as a responsibility to continue to invest and innovate in Europe. We will probably invest more in the next decade that the previous one.
It’s important to be successful in the UK, Germany and France – our ‘own area’.
“We want to bring VSOP back into young adults’ drinking repetoire.”
Piana talked about cognac culture in the US and Asia and its association with music and music stars.
“We are going to start looking at Europe in the same way as Asia and the US – in terms of cities rather than countries.”
The company will also focus on cocktails in the UK market and has introduced four key serves – a Sour, a Sidecar, a French Mojito and a more simple serve with iced tea.
Piana said that Europe represented 20% of Rémy Martin’s business in value terms. When asked about the financial climate, he said: “When Lehman Brothers happened, everyone stopped investing in the US. Rémy Martin decided to invest because you can reap the benefits as soon as the market starts to pick up.
“This is the same in Europe.”
Piana said he didn’t anticipate huge growth or a massive downturn in the European market.
He said he would be pleased if Europe still represented 20% of Rémy Martin’s business in terms of value, in ten years time.
Piana declined to discuss the level of investment in the launch.
Prior to VSOP Mature Cask Finish, Rémy launched Coeur de Cognac in 2007 and XO in 1981.