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Camus Sees Cognac Growth Accelerate, Enters U.S. Irish Whiskey Category

May 15, 2018

With its core Cognac business on a sharp rise, CIL U.S. Wines & Spirits, the U.S. subsidiary of France-based Camus Wines & Spirits, is spreading its wings with entry into the Irish whiskey category. The company’s new Lambay brand is said to be the first Irish whiskey finished in Cognac casks.

Lambay, which has been rolling out across the Eastern seaboard this spring, includes a Small Batch Blend ($30-$35) and a Single Malt ($60-$65), both of which are 40%-abv, non-chill-filtered Irish whiskies.The brand, which is a partnership between the Camus family and the Baring family’s Revelstoke Trust, is named for the private Lambay Island—situated three miles off the coast of Dublin—which the Barings acquired in 1904 for £5,000. The Lambay single malt is rested on the island in Camus Cognac casks for six months (the Small Batch Blend sees a shorter amount of time in Cognac casks).

About 5,000 cases of Lambay are rolling out globally, with roughly half the total coming to the U.S. The Lambay single malt earned a score of 90 points from Whisky Advocate, while the blend earned 88 points. “Our calling card is the Cognac finish,” says brand manager Sabine Sheehan. “That will be the underlying factor for all our whiskies going forward,” she adds, noting the opportunity for further innovation looking ahead.

In addition to the Irish whiskey launch, Camus is present in Scotch whisky as the importer of Highland single malt Glencadam, which includes a Glencadam Origin 1825 ($45), 10-year-old ($55), 15-year-old ($85), 21-year-old ($199), and 25-year-old ($500).

Meanwhile, the company’s flagship Camus Cognac brand is enjoying a strong run in the U.S., roughly doubling in size over the past two years. “The original plan for Camus as a brand was to reach 20,000 9-liter cases by 2020,” says Alexandra Albu, U.S. sales and marketing director for Camus Wines & Spirits. “We’re actually close to that now and should surpass it next year.” Albu explains that Camus and others in the Cognac category have been taking advantage of the recent shortage of Hennessy to expand their own brand franchises, particularly at the VS level. “Now our goal is to be in the top five Cognac brands in the U.S. by 2020,” up from eighth currently, she adds. “That would align us with our fifth-ranked position globally.”—Daniel Marsteller

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