South African liquor company Distell Group has acquired 60% stake in privately-owned Chinese distribution company CJ Wines & Spirits.

CJ Wines & Spirits, with operations in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, allows Distell to expand its presence in the East.

According to French trade body Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac (BNIC), producers had shipped 168.5 million bottles of cognac‚ worth $2.8bn, for the year to June 2012.

The BNIC reported that cognac demand in the Far East has outpaced other regions with turnover exceeding $1.25bn and particularly Chinese consumption of cognac is surging.

CJ Wines & Spirits will be renamed as Distell China, which will be headed up by managing director Rody Wong, who had earlier ran the Chinese firm.

Wong said, "CJ’s conversance with the cognac market is an important asset‚ and we plan to bring this expertise in marketing to retail and on-consumption channels to Amarula‚ which is one of the fastest-growing spirits brands worldwide."

Distell managing director Jan Scannell said that Distell China will initially aim to establish the presence of cognac brand Bisquit and Amarula Cream liqueur in south China, before considering other brands within the company’s portfolio for distribution in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.

"The new venture will carry spirits and wines from around the world, and that obviously gives us the scope to explore avenues for some of our other brands," Scannell added.

Distell purchased the Bisquit brand from the Pernod Ricard for €31m in 2009.