The Philippines consumes more cognac than France, the only country that produces the premium variety of brandy.
This is according to Pierre Boyer, the 28-year-old brand ambassador of Martell cognac in Southeast Asia. “The cognac market is growing in the Philippines,” Boyer says in a cognac tasting event organized by Martell in Makati City.
Boyer, who was born and raised in the city of Cognac and is an active cognac enthusiast, says the expanding economy of the Philippines and the penchant for premium brands is driving the growth in demand for cognac in the country.
The Philippines is one of the world’s largest markets for brandy, with homegrown Emperador Inc., which owns Bodegas Fundador in Spain, now considered the largest producer.
Boyer says what makes cognac different from other brandy types is the place where it is produced. The variety is named after the city of Cognac in the western part of France and is produced in the surrounding wine-growing region spanning 75,000 hectares in the departments of Charente and Charente-Maritime.
Martell is the oldest cognac producer in France, having first produced the premium cognac in 1715. Martell, now owned by Pernod Ricard, is also one of the four largest producers of cognac, along with Courvoisier, Hennessy and Rémy Martin.
Martell cognac contains fine brandies dubbed eaux-de-vie or “waters of life”, according to Boyer.
Boyer graduated with a Master’s in International Business from HEC Paris in 2015 where he wrote a thesis about the French wine industry. He joined the Pernod-Ricard group as a marketing trainee in Paris in 2013 and became the brand ambassador for Martell cognac and Mumm and Perrier-Jouët champagne at Pernod-Ricard Malaysia in 2016.
Boyer says cognac is made from Ugni blanc, a dry and acidic grape variety which is distilled twice and aged for at least two years. Boyer says while Ugnic blanc is not a good variety for wine, it is perfect for distillation and aging of brandy.
Martell is the oldest among the 200 cognac houses in the Cognac region, says Boyer, and is most famous for Cordon Bleu. It also produces very superior old pale or VSOP and extra old or XO cognac.
Pernod Ricard, the parent company of Martell, is also the one behind Chivas Brothers scotch, Malibu rum, Beefeater gin and Absolut vodka.
Boyer, who is now based in Kuala Lumpur, says China and the United States are two of the largest markets of cognac, but one of the fastest growing markets is Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Before moving to Kuala Lumpur, Boyer has lived in Cognac, Paris, Brussels and Rotterdam and traveled around Southeast Asia, Africa and North America.
Boyer says cognac has an alcohol content of 40 percent and drinking it should depend on one’s preference and ability to handle alcohol. On whether cognac should be enjoyed pure or mixed with water, ice or juice, Boyer says: “It is should be the way you like it.”
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