Cognac has recorded its third-best export annual performance ever, the Bureau Interprofessionnel du Cognac reported.

Globally shipments were up 7.2% by volume to 152 million bottles and rose 11% in value to €1.5bn in the year to 30 December 2006.

The rejuvenation of the category in the UK, which is Cognac's third-biggest market, continued apace with shipments up 1.8% by volume last year. In the two previous years exports had dipped 3.2% to the UK.

"A strong performance in the UK off-trade, particularly at the more premium VSOP and XO level, demonstrates the consumer trend for trading up," said BNIC. "There is continued interest in the on-trade from mixologists and bartenders and a rise in the popularity of classic cocktails."

Last month Tesco launched an own-label £19.99 XO Cognac, the branded version of which usually retails for £100. Morrisons and Asda are to follow suit.