Friday, November 21, 2014

Is the World Ready for Remy Martin V?



It's always risky when a company extends a brand into a new product segment. Sometimes it's very smooth. Consumers had no trouble accepting that Dove, a brand of soap, could also be used to sell shampoo, deodorant, and other personal care products. But consumers didn't want Jack Daniel's beer. It's hard to figure.

Rémy Martin is a name associated with cognac. Rémy Martin V, which is getting a big advertising push right now, is not cognac. It is an eau-de-vie, meaning an unaged brandy. It's not a huge difference, at least on paper, but any cognac drinker thinking it's just another cognac expression will be shocked when they see it (it's clear) and taste it. Unaged spirits can be a bit rough.

Just as whiskey is a distilled spirit made from grain, brandy is a distilled spirit made from fruit. In most cases the fruit is grapes, but eau-de-vie typically are not grape-based. Pear is commonly used. Rémy V, however, is grape-based and known, therefore, as an eau-de-vie de vin.

The difference between a grape-based vodka, such as Ciroc, and a grape-based brandy is distillation proof, but as with some very high distillation proof whiskeys (Scottish grain, for example), the actual distillation proof of a brandy is up to the maker so long as it is south of neutrality (less than 95% ABV). If the distillation proof of Rémy V has been disclosed, I haven't seen it.

Here's what the company says about it. "At once bold and sophisticated, Rémy Martin V is the premiere eau-de-vie de vin from the House of  Rémy Martin. Born of legendary French vineyards, its grapes are distilled in the traditional manner in copper pot stills. On the rocks it is vibrant and intricate. Mixed, it is the soul of any great cocktail."

That implies that it is, effectively, white cognac.

I became aware of Rémy V because of the current advertising campaign, but the product was actually launched in 2010, about the time major bourbon brands started responding to the white whiskey craze started by micro-distillers. That seems to have passed, but Rémy V must be showing enough organic growth to justify the current major advertising investment.

We're in a phase now that most adult beverage producers find uncomfortable. No one wants to drink just one thing. People want to try new things. This is forcing even the most staid brands to consider radical line extensions, to at least keep their customers from wandering beyond the brand family. Will Rémy V catch on? Nobody bought Jack Daniel's beer but millions are buying Jack Daniel's Honey Liquor, so who can say?

15 comments:

tmckenzie said...

I have bought several bottles. It is on the pricey side. It is very well made and a wonderful taste in my opinion. But, I like white dog as well. Not everybody does. And I have seen the bottles in the store I buy linger on the shelf since the stuff first came out.

Unknown said...

I've never had an eau de vie de vin, but eau de vie de pomme and de poire can be truly remarkable. Not really a big market for any of these outside of Alsace, Germany, and a few other pockets of Europe, so if this has any impact in increasing awareness or availability of those types of spirits, I'm all for it. Though that's doubtful, and maybe they just wanted a clever way to make a few bucks with some extra inventory (or lack thereof, if we're talking casks and space).

-Jeff Harner

Anonymous said...

I think Remy is trying to cover all spectrums of cognac style. Unfortunately they can not call their new cognac Grappa or Pisco due to the D.O.M. True, as you pointed out they are trying to cut some market from Ciroc grape vodka too. Just to add more twist Grey Goose vodka is resting their vodka in cognac too.

Andy said...

Not much new under the sun...Unaged grape brandies have been made and marketed for quite a while in Italy, under various names like most, mosto, uva, UE, aquavite da mosto, grappa d'uva, etc. Some include the grapes in the distillation like grappa, some are just the liquid. Most are aimed at the premium market.

They can be very tasty, much less rough and fiery than some grappa. Have you tried the Remy V?

Muse of Doom said...

Thank you for the clarification! I must not have seen the right promo material, but had been wondering for years whether V truly was a white dog/eau-de-vie. It has a very signature Remy taste to it, but with a pisco- or maybe grappa-freshness (albeit without the pomace roughness you might find in a grappa). What confused me about the spirit was a notable smoothness and lack of heat that might be expected in a white dog - such that I wondered whether it was regular Remy VS or VSOP just charcoal-filtered like some white rums. Its price point, at least in PA, suggests that somewhat at $40 a fifth compared to the VSOP's $42.

Anonymous said...

They are confIdent that Remy V will be a big seller. Their Remy V.S. Is unavailable from my distributors. And we have been told Remy V.S. Will be discontinued.2392

Alex said...

I am quite keen to try this if it hits the australian shores. I regularly purchase Delord Blanche which is an unaged armagnac and is really quite nice neat, it also lends itself to daquiri style cocktails very well.

NP said...

If it wasnt for not pissing off people back in the Cognac area, there would be Remy gins, Hennessy whiskies and all sorts of Courvoisier flavored stuff (....oh wait...). Small distillers selling to big houses are very attached to those key brands who are the ambassadors of Cognac. If one of these houses was to go ahead and expand its rage too quick, tires would burn and tractors would likely block loading docks. My guess is that the strategy is for a very slow move towards being able to touch every single category that people may want to buy. It is a business. No reason for not offering a full range. They have the expertise, the warehouse space etc... It is coming (me thinks).

Anonymous said...

I remember trying this before it launched at an event some years ago. It's not bad, but I thought Laubade's Blanche Armagnac (which came out years earlier) was much better tasting, and is $20 cheaper than Remy V's $59 in my market. And Remy's VSOP is $49. So their aged product is actually less expensive than their unaged. That makes no sense to me. And I don't know why they wouldn't price it to compete with premium vodka (maybe the $39 to $45 range).

Anonymous said...

At the bar I work at (mixology type place in brooklyn) we use delord blanche armagnac in a house cocktail so it's getting some inroads. obviously havent tried the v, but if it's good I wont complain. Many brandies like this that ive had frankly don't taste like much.

Anonymous said...

Remember Crystal Pepsi? So too shall V pass.

Gary Gillman said...

A Pisco Sour is made with unaged grape distillate, generally these are considered cheap spirits due to their tequila-like taste. Much will depend on how it is further processed if at all. If it is rectified further into a vodka-like drink, I can see potential (Ciroc is one such derived from grapes), but if it tastes like the pisco made in Peru or Chile, I'd say forget it.

Gary

h4rr4r said...

We need more of these in the USA.
Proper Schnapps are hard to find. Pear Brandy is too expensive.

Rick said...

Do any of you remember the "White Whiskey" from Brown-Forman, from the early seventies? Frost 80? something like that. a terrible idea, altho someone bought it, as I have a couple of bottles...

Rick

Chuck Cowdery said...

When I was around Brown-Forman in the early 1980s, Frost 8/80 was discussed in hush tones, if at all. Their biggest bomb until the California Cooler acquisition.