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?