Since its launch in South Africa in 2010, Bisquit Cognac has gained quite a strong following. Understandably so, because before then we had to make due with mostly massed produced brandies and mask it with coke. Luckily Distell noticed the growing interest in connoisseur cognacs and bought the brand in 2009.
With Cape Wine on our doorstep, Global Cognac Ambassador of Bisquit Cognac decided to pay South Africa a visit and share the cognac knowledge he has gained over the years. Winetimes got to know Alexandre Lechat, who was born and raised in the Cognac region of France, a little better over dinner at Pigalle the other night and ask him a couple of questions.
At what age did you have your first glass of cognac?
I must have been around 20 or 21 years old.
Where did your passion for cognac start?
When I was very young I decided to study for a pastry chef at a cooking school in France. After a year I had to decide where to do my internship and for some or other reason I ended up working as a bartender at various restaurants in France, where I gained a lot of knowledge on various spirits, cognac in particular.
Bisquit Cognac is available in numerous countries across the world. Who would you say is the biggest importer of the product?
Definitely China. They are miles ahead with 15 million new consumers per year.
Is Brandy and Cognac made in the same style?
A big no!!! All cognacs are brandy but not all brandies are cognac…
Have you tried any locally produced brandies during your visit to South Africa?
Yes, when you work with Distell there’s always brandy around.
I enjoy Richelieu
And how does Brandy compare to Cognac?
It’s difficult to compare the two. They might be from the same family but there’s a lot of other factors to take in account like grape varietals, distilling processes and aging.
Who would you say is Bisquit Cognac’s biggest market competitor?
Hennessey. They are living the dream all cognac brands are dreaming of.
Pairing cognac with food. What will you suggest?
It’s easy to pair cognac with dessert but when it comes to savoury I would suggest salmon with blue cheese or mustard with roasted meat.
What are your thoughts on the demographics in South Africa drinking high priced specialty spirits and is it understood?
South African’s understand cognac because the understand brandy. They should not however just look at price. The dream should be to find a good moment with a good product. It’s a fact however that cognac respect the market more than the market respects cognac.