Exclusive Interview: Thomas Mayr, Marketing Director for the two century year old cognac brand Bisquit & Dubouché

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CONTENT: Yiew Kai Jie

When one thinks of cognac, one often thinks of stuffy back rooms where businessmen discuss current affairs with a cigar in one hand and a wide glass of cognac in another. In a cosmopolitan city like Singapore where connoisseurs are seeking to know more about the origins of high-end spirits and the story behind them, a two century year old cognac brand, Bisquit & Dubouché seeks to make its brand known here while changing the local mindset on how they perceive cognac!

We had the chance to sit down and have a chat about the popularity of cognac and the future brand presence of cognac in Singapore with Thomas Mayr, the Marketing Director for Campari Group Asia who is handling the distribution of Bisquit & Dubouché in Singapore!

LuxeSocietyAsia: Is there a high demand for Cognac in Singapore right now?

Thomas Mayr: Considering the rising popularity of brown spirits, many brown spirits connoisseurs have become ‘Explorers’ moving beyond traditional whiskies to rediscover cognac, which has led to the higher demand of cognac in Singapore.

LuxeSocietyAsia: As liquor literacy continues to increase in Singapore, do you think Cognac will be on par with other liquors such as whiskies or wines?

Thomas Mayr: As Bisquit & Dubouché is one of our key focus brands in APAC this year, we would expect Cognac appreciation to be on par with whiskies and wines, given the sophisticated nature of the liquid. It will take some time for consumers to rediscover Cognac. What I’ve noticed however, is the openness to experiment with more spirit categories or brands in cocktail bars and retail, which in turn, goes full circle in gradually building an appreciation of other brown spirits like Cognac and Rum.

LuxeSocietyAsia: What makes Bisquit & Dubouché stand out from other existing cognac brands?

Thomas Mayr: I could go on and on about this but I’ll sum it up to three main factors.

Disruptive packaging – instead of the traditional combination of gold and ornamental bottle shapes, we’ve opted for a sleek, silver aesthetic as a modernised presentation of cognac.

Taste – In broader descriptions, I’d say that the V.S.O.P. is rounded and delicate with aromas of florals and citrus. Punchy on its own yet incredibly versatile for cocktails. The X.O. on the other hand, is more concentrated and smoky with notes of plum and liquorice due to its longer maturation minimum of 10 years. We are very proud of winning Cognac of the Year with our VSOP at the 2021 New York International Spirits Competition, a testament of the liquid quality.

Technique – in terms of methods, we use a longer distillation method, our distillers rely on decades of mastery and intuition to pin-point the exact moment where the aromas or “eaux de vie” and distinct characteristics are at optimum, before blending the various crus.

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LuxeSocietyAsia: Upon first impressions, the bottle is visually stunning- do you think it plays a part in how cognac is presented to consumers?

Thomas Mayr: Definitely. I believe that there are more ways than one to convey luxury. If you were to envision a Bisquit & Dubouché bottle among a shelf of brown spirits, the bottle stands out as premium and disruptive. The whole intention is to change buyer perceptions that cognac can be seductive in the modern sense.

LuxeSocietyAsia: Cognac is often associated as an “old man’s liquor”, what are your thoughts on that?

Thomas Mayr: I’ve always believed that one shouldn’t let others’ perceptions stop you from enjoying the best things in life. For those who think cognacs are just for the older generation, I would tell them that they are missing out on some of the most refined and sensorial experiences with spirits. If you consider yourself a lover of spirits, be adventurous. There are plenty of expressions in cognac to explore and you’ll never know if you like it until you give it a try – preferably Bisquit & Dubouché of course!

LuxeSocietyAsia: How does one properly enjoy the taste of cognac?

Thomas Mayr: If you’re already a brown spirits drinker, the “proper” way to enjoy cognac is similar. Serve it neat if you prefer it bolder, iced or with water if you prefer it mellow. Give it a swirl to open up aromas, give it a sniff and sip slowly!

If you prefer cocktails, I’d recommend trying cognac in highball form so you can still identify core characteristics. Otherwise, ask a bartender to incorporate it into classics like a Sidecar, Manhattan or Sazerac to slowly acquaint yourself.

LuxeSocietyAsia: What is the difference between Bisquit & Dubouché’s VSOP and XO Cognac?

Thomas Mayr: Character. Although distillation and maturation follow similar paths, the ageing makes all the difference. The V.S.O.P. (4-6 years) is easily the more delicate in expression and finishing, the X.O. (10 – 14 years) on the other hand, is complex, bolder and significantly oaky yet delicate at the same time. The former is great for cocktails while the latter is best enjoyed neat.

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LuxeSocietyAsia: In terms of food pairing, what pairs well with either cognac?

Thomas Mayr: With the delicate character of the VSOP, I’d suggest along the lines of charcuterie platters, milder or not too sharp tasting cheeses like cheddar, white chocolate so it retains its softness or sweet-sour cherries.

As for the XO, I’d go for richer flavours such as dark chocolate, terrines, porcini and plums that accentuates its complexity.

LuxeSocietyAsia: How would you sum up Bisquit & Dubouché cognac in a word?

Thomas Mayr: Daring – in its founding story of being one of the first cognacs to adopt bottling under the founders’ names; in its new packaging that challenges packaging norms; in its unique distillation technique that’s intuition over standardised procedures.

The Bisquit & Dubouché V.S.O.P. ($129) and X.O (S$365) are available at selected retailers, with the X.O. sold in limited quantities. Retailers and collectors are also able to purchase bottles directly from Campari Group’s RARE Division via online or via the official Campari Group store on Lazada and Shopee.

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