Cognac sales last year rose slightly, according to recent figures. The French national Cognac association, BNIC, said late last week that sales in 2004 increased by 6.1% year-on-year and by 10% from 2002. Last year was Cognac's best performance for the last 14 years, with 378,110 hectolitres of pure alcohol, the equivalent of 135m bottles sold.

Exports increased by 0.9%, constituting 95% of sales, with the US taking 36.4% of sales, an increase of 0.3% year-on-year.

In the UK, sales rose by 7.8%, and in Germany and France, sales increased by 17.9% in volumes.  Although sales in Japan plunged by 15.6% last year, China saw an increase of 10.6%, while the Far East market was up by 16.1%.