Shock Report: One Third of Russian “Cognacs” are Fake

Russian Standards Body Says Nearly One Third of all Cognacs Sold in Russia Are Counterfeit.

Late last year we noted the Cognac standards body Le Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) was engaged in an effort to combat counterfeit cognacs. The BNIC’s efforts were highlighted at the 9th annual Anti-Counterfeiting Workshop in Wemmel, near Brussels and focused on raising awareness of Cognac counterfeit issues and to training Belgian customs officers, police and agents employed by the anti-counterfeiting unit of the Ministry of Economy.

A new report indicates that cognac has a large counterfeiting issue in Russia – or at least the Russian standards body believes so. According to Roskachestvo, a quality assurance research entity established by decree of the Government of the Russian Federation, one third of all “cognacs” sold in Russia are fake. While this sounds alarming, the issue is not that brandies or other distilled spirits are being packaged as real Cognac meeting the requirements of the BNIC, but rather a large variety of foreign and domestic brandies and distilled spirits carry the generic label “cognac” in Russia and according to Roskachestvo, many should not.

Roskachestvo’s study notes that of the 47 brands of “cognac” tested and sold in Russia, only five of them received the highest rating for cognac and should be called cognac. Another 27 were properly labelled “cognac’ but were of lower quality and found to contain artificial flavors. Fifteen out of 47, or nearly a third of cognacs, were found to contain alcohol not of grape origin and therefore were deemed counterfeits.

Russia’s Definition of Cognac, is Different than the BNIC’s

The Roskachestvo study makes no reference to the BNIC’s requirements that among other things, that “Cognac” can only come from the designated growing areas of Cognac, France. Rather, the counterfeits that the Roskachestvo study identified were domestic spirits that were labelled “cognac”, while also noting that many domestic spirits were properly labelled as “cognac”.

Which Five “Cognacs” Earned the Highest Rating AND the Right to Be Called Cognac?

According to Roskachestvo, only one Russian brand, Crimean Bakhchisaray “cognac”, and four French brands of Cognac received the highest rating.

Not surprisingly, the four French brands that Roskachestvo deemed to be authentic Cognac and of the highest rating were Hennessy, Courvoisier, Martell and Remy Martin.

Using the BNIC definition of “cognac”, Roskachestvo got it wrong. Of the forty-seven cognacs they tested only four were authentic Cognacs: Hennessy, Courvoisier, Martell and Remy Martin and the remaining 89% brandies and spirits tested, irrespective of their quality, were counterfeit!

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