Posted on | June 4, 2012
Written by | W.R. Tish
A rarity in any category, Camus is a fifth-generation and family-owned company. The Cognac house accurately markets itself as “A Living Tradition” as from father to son, over five generations since 1863, they have amassed expertise based on respect for the soil, the wines, the eaux-devie, and the creation of elegant Cognacs.
Each company leader has had his hallmark. The current CEO, Cyril Camus, is credited with Camus’s impressive footprint throughout Asia (he lives in Beijing and speaks fluent Chinese), as well as constant yet thoughtful and useful innovation. The fifth largest Cognac house globally, Camus is sold in almost every country in the world, yet, the house continually aims to expand while retaining its focus on XO-and-above-grade Cognacs, many with a discernibly Borderies taste profile, reflecting the family’s home vineyard.
In terms of domestic U.S. expansion, in 2012 Camus signed a distribution agreement in metro New York with Phoenix/Beehive Distributing, which has already resulted in strong growth, particularly in the off-premise.
Setting the Quality Bar High
At the luxury end of the category, Camus has several exciting prospects lined up for 2012. Right now, the brand is releasing its EXTRA Elegance in the U.S. (SRP $400). This exceptional blend of aged eaux-de-vie is already the market leader in Asia, embraced by a highly educated and demanding Cognac audience. Vintage-dated bottlings—a rarity in Cognac—are another signature of Camus’s high-end offerings. This fall, Camus will release three new vintage Cognacs, following the sold-out success of last year’s. Extremely limited, the 1973, 1975 and 1991 will retail in New York for $600, $500 and $600, respectively.
Next winter Camus will release Cuvée 3.140, part the house’s “Masterpiece Collection,” offered in 950 numbered Baccarat decanters, with a limited allocation for the U.S. The numeric name of this rare blend is a rebus: 3.140 stands for the three separate barrels from which the component Cognacs came, and the 140 years’ cumulative age of the barrels. The selling price will be several thousand dollars per bottle.
Affordability & Innovation
The mid-range Cognacs are a great source of pride at Camus, offering a rare point of distinction: three Ile de Ré, island-produced Cognacs hail from the little-known Cognac appellation prized for its pre-phylloxera vines. Called Fine Island, Double Matured and the Cliffside Cellar, each has salty, maritime notes that offer special appeal to Scotch drinkers; SRPs are $49, $69 and $99, respectively.
Innovation is also driving Camus’s on-premise plans. Tom Blancero, on-premise sales director for Phoenix/Beehive, says, “We have been very impressed with the level of enthusiasm from every channel. Our teams are enjoying the quality of Camus. Our initial focus has been on education but we have plans to pursue mixology opportunities as well.” 140 years’ cumulative age of the barrels. The selling price will be several thousand dollars per bottle.
One mixology promotion rolling out nationwide is the Camus-Rita, a perfectly balanced twist on a traditional margarita. This easy to make cocktail of course appeals to a wide audience, and professional bartenders have found that both Camus VS and VSOP mix well with the cocktail’s citrus flavors.
“We are looking forward to the 2012 product launches—many on-premise pre-sell commitments have already been made,” notes Blancero. “We are very proud to be part of the Camus tradition of innovation. Not everyone may know this, but Camus created Joséphine back in the late 1990s, which was one of the first Cognac brands to recruit female consumers. Camus has always been incredibly smart about creating new products, in super packaging, at every price point, with great quality in the bottle. The U.S. launches this year—especially Ile de Ré, which is a brilliant marketing move, not to mention delicious Cognac—will be a great adventure for us, as well as for the U.S. trade and consumers.”
2 oz. CAMUS Elegance VS
Combine all ingredients