2007 was the "best year ever" for global sales of Cognac and the "sixth consecutive year of growth", according to trade body Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

A total of 158m bottles were sold last year, an increase of 4.1% on 2006, beating the previous record of 157m bottles set in 1989. In value terms, sales rose by 6% to EUR1.6bn (US$2.31bn).

While there was export growth in all categories of Cognacs exported, the BNIC underlines that 2007 confirmed the trend towards more upmarket products "with older vintages increasing at a faster rate than younger ones".

"Despite the very high level recorded at the end of 2006," exports to North America grew by 5.7% last year, driven by demand in the US. In contrast, volumes bound for the European market fell by 3.6% to 55.4m bottles, largely due to a significant decline in bulk shipments, the BNIC notes.

Exports to the Far East were up 12.9% to 39.6m bottles with China enjoying the highest growth rate of all markets in 2007.