Do the Nog
Holiday brandy purchases are not just for gifts, says retailer Kreston. Mixing up big batches of homemade brandy eggnog is a long-standing tradition in the Delaware area. “Folks buy the good stuff for their old family recipes,” he says. “We special order some brandies and Cognacs around the holidays just for that purpose.”
Although Christian Brothers Brandy doesn’t offer any VAPs or other holiday promotions, its seasonal Christian Brothers Holiday Nog is a big seller this time of the year, says Josh Hafer, communications manager at Heaven Hill Distilleries. “The brandy-based dairy nog is one of the best-selling nogs in the business,” he adds.
Heaven Hill also celebrates the season with Evan Williams Eggnog and recently introduced an Admiral Nelson Eggnog. The company supports stackings with case cards and counter displays by the register. “It is a great grab-and-go item,” Hafer says. “With a price point of $7.99-$8.99, you add to your buy without deflating the wallet too dramatically.”
“Besides the gift sets and snifters, we sell all different variations of brandy this time of year,” notes Herlofsky, citing Christian Brothers Holiday Nog and E&J Cask & Cream Original Temptation Brandy Liqueur.
Not every producer is sold on selling the holidays, however. Some are opting out of the gift pack race and looking to make brandy less of a special-occasion buy and more of an everyday quaff.
Pierre Ferrand Cognac, for example, is not planning any holiday promotions or issuing any gift packs. Indeed, the brand is de-emphasizing that year-end bump. “We are trying to reduce high fourth quarter seasonality as much as possible,” explains Guillaume Lamy, vice president-Americas for Maison Ferrand. “Our Cognac volume sales used to be 60% during that time, now it’s closer to 40%.”
Christian Brothers Brandy, too, has opted out of the fray. “For domestic brandies, those are year-round consumers,” says Hafer. “We don’t see much of an uptick in sales because of the holidays.”
“Brandy is not as seasonal as people think,” opines Heron at Copper & Kings. Sales are spread out fairly evenly across the year, he says. “We do not focus on special occasions. We focus on the consumption opportunities from seasonal mixology–like highballs in summer, Corpse Reviver for Halloween or Jack Rose for fall.”
“We do not do any specific holiday promotions on a national level, but maintain a consistent brand presence throughout the year,” says Vicky Arcos, brand director at Paul Masson. “Paul Masson Grande Amber Brandy has maintained a consistent presence in the domestic brandy segment and has been very consistent in sales throughout the year as the number-two brandy, with a 21% share of the domestic brandy category. So while the fourth quarter is important, our sales are not reliant upon holidays.”