“It’s biskwee not biskit” corrected Stella Wink from Magna Carta as the Pigalle waitron dished out Cognac and ginger cocktails last night. Bisquit rhymes with whisky, which made me think that when Sbusiso Shongwe called the Cognac a whisky in the Sowetan earlier this year, this was no slip of the stylus but rather a marketing masterstroke from Magna Carta. For the anorak howls of outrage and calls for a correction generated way more interest than the anaemic story did. Ten to one Sbu is now a Distell brand ambassador somewhere or working on Mitt Romney’s election campaign, for Barack.
For as Grant McDonald from Mudl magazine pointed out, the defeat of brandy by whisky in SA is all about brands. On the international scene Cognac is on a roll with sales up 16% while in SA the brandy category is down 8% with the honorable exception of Bisquit which is up 5% – probably as people order a whisky in a noisy bar which is misheard as Bisquit.
Is Alexandre Lechat (above, with local Bisquit boffin Africa), the newly appointed French Bisquit brandy ambassador, the man to take Bisquit to even higher heights? He certainly has the correct pedigree: pastry chef turned barman who looks like he packs a useful right hook. From pastries to biscuits, neat. “Charmed away” from Grand Marnier after 12 years involved with the orange and Cognac liqueur, Alexandre’s first job was to organize the low key party to open the rejuvenated Chateau. A launch so low key only a few Distell directors and suppliers cracked an invite. Followed recently by a bunch of duty free journos from the UK – which nails priorities to the flagpole and I for one will be saluting.
For as I stumbled out of Pigalle on the arm of glamorous Anel Grobler (who is thinking of changing the name of her blog from Spit or Swallow to Spill or Swallow after she wiped out her non-beerproof smart phone with a bottle of yet to be released beer) Alexandre said “maybe see you next year, in France.” Which had a wonderful way of diverting my mosquito-like attention from whisky to Cognac as I find foie gras so much tastier than boiled stomach, turnips and neeps.