The enduring thirst for Cognac on the part of influential rappers like Nas and Jay-Z has been hugely positive for the region, according to one key producer.
US rapper Nas is a longterm fan of Hennessy
Benoît de Sutter, purchasing manager of Courvoisier, told the drinks business that the interest in Cognac among the hip hop community over the past decade has had a dramatic influence on sales.
“Everything changed when Busta Rhymes released Pass the Courvoisier in 2002. It caused such a stir in the hip hop world that sales of our Cognacs jumped up by 30% as a result.
“The song had a direct impact on our sales, and we see the interest among the hip hop community as a positive thing – it’s great publicity for us,” he said.
“People are still talking about that record – we don’t mind the association at all,” he added.
Jay-Z drank d’Ussé straight from his trophy at this year’s Grammy Awards
de Sutter also sees the interest in rappers to want to make their own Cognacs as a good for the region.
While a number of rappers have been made ambassadors for different Cognac brands – T.I. for Rémy Martin and Snoop Doggy Dog for Landy, rapper Ludacris took things a step further in 2009 when he released his own Cognac brand, Conjure, in collaboration with Birkedal Hartmann.
Last year, Bacardi entered into the Cognac category with premium brand d’Ussé, which has since been adopted by Jay-Z as his Cognac of choice, much in the same with he promotes Armand de Brignac as his favourite Champagne.
Earlier this year he was seen at the Grammy Awards sipping d’Ussé (pronounced dew-say) out of one of the gongs he picked up that night.
Hennessy currently dominates the US Cognac market, accounting for over half of sales of the spirit in America.
“Hennessy is the strongest spirits brand in the hip hop community,” rapper Nas commented in a video promoting his recent trip to the Cognac house.
“I started rapping about Hennessy at the beginning of my career and now here I am shaking hands with the brand’s president – it’s an amazing story,” he added.
In 2011, Cognac sales in the US tipped over the 50 million bottle mark, with young African Americans accounting for 75% of sales.