The latest figures from Cognac trade body BNIC show that exports to China reached record levels for the 12 months to November.

"Exports shipped directly to China showed an increase of 73.8% to 31,969 hectolitres, but important volumes bound for the country also pass via Singapore which is a distribution hub for South East Asia," a BNIC spokesperson told just-drinks today (19 December).

"Global exports to China probably totalled 70,000 hectolitres, an increase of around 20% on the previous 12 months. This volume compares with exports of 155,000 hectolitres to the US, by far our biggest market."

Commenting on China's growing taste for Cognac, the spokesperson said: "There is nothing to indicate that export growth to China will not continue in its current vein. Chinese society is becoming steadily richer and Cognac is now within the purchasing range of a greater number of consumers, for whom it is viewed as a luxury from the West. China is a connoisseurs' market too, there being a preference for superior quality, older Cognacs."

Exports to all markets in the 12-month period rose by 4.6% with growth led by Asia (+10.5%). Volumes to North America increased by 4.6% and to Europe by 0.2%.