STRONG demand from China helped lift cognac sales at French spirits company Remy Cointreau.

The group, owner of Islay single malts Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore, said that sales of €241.5 million in the first quarter of 2018/19 – representing like-for-like growth of 5.9 per cent from last year – were above analysts' expectations for 5.3% growth.

Remy Cointreau had a strong start to the year with the House of Rémy Martin continuing its upward trajectory underpinned by “highly favourable” trends in Greater China and the travel retail market, plus sustained growth in Singapore, Australia and Japan.

Its liqueurs and spirits division renewed its growth (+2.8%) in the first quarter, driven by the Houses of Cointreau and Metaxa, as well as its single malt whiskies and The Botanist gin, also made in Islay. Partner brands continued their decline in line with the group’s strategy to refocus on its own brands.

“The Botanist achieved exceptional growth across all geographical areas,” the company said, adding that the “vitality of the whisky business unit primarily reflects an outstanding performance of the Scottish single malts”.

It said that the “progressive Hebridean distillers” had recently unveiled its new campaign #WeAreIslay which will be launched in the coming months along with new packaging for Port Charlotte.

Other brands in the company’s portfolio include Greek spirit Metaxa and Mount Gay rum.