“With three centuries of experience, the Rémy Martin family has distilled the process of cognac making into a fine art. To share the secrets about this exclusive liquor is Vincent Clème – Louis XIII brand ambassador.”
Above all, and before anything else, there’s the sheer romance of it. You don’t really have to be a cognac, or even a liquor enthusiast, to get goosebumps at the prospect of opening a bottle of a fine liquor which was casked a 100 years ago. The final rite of passage for a journey which began with a peasant harvesting some grapes in a field in Cognac, France, back in 1900 or 1910. The allure of Louis XIII transcends cognac lovers and imbues the liquor with a halo of almost mythical exclusivity.
Interestingly, most Louis XIII fans and customers do not drink cognac in general. Don’t get me wrong, cognac lovers are obviously thrilled by the unquestionable superiority of the liquor, but even those who appreciate the aromatic experience of a fine wine, are overwhelmed by a waft of Louis XIII’s fireworks – over 250 aromas – which invoke the ultimate nosing and tasting experience. Even whisky enthusiasts, who appreciate the ageing experience of a 20-, 30-, or even 40-year old single malt, can’t help but be disarmed by the subtle complexity of this centurion.
It’s not a gentleman’s club either: irrespective of the age-old association with men and their clubs, women are as susceptible to the smoothness, balance and the fine bouquet of aromas of Louis XIII. Ask Pierrette Trichet – our Cellar Master – and the first woman in the industry to ever reach that level of expertise.
Trichet is just the fourth Cellar Master in the 100-year history of the House of Rémy Martin, and represents just one chapter in Louis XIII’s biography. Four generations of Cellar Masters chaperone every single bottle of Louis XIII through its lifetime: right from selecting the best grapes (all of which are picked from Champagne-Grande, the best cognac terroir); overseeing the cognac double – distillation process; regularly evaluating the progress of each cask of eaux-de-vie through ageing; and finally assembling the exquisite cognac through an exceptional blend of 1,200 eaux-de-vie.
Finally, the decanter itself is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The design is based on a metal flask found in 1874 on a 1569 battlefield. It is made of the finest Baccarat crystal with a solid 24k gold collar, which is adorned by the signature fleur-de-lys crystal stopper. Each decanter is the result of a synchronised ballet of 11 people over more than two weeks. I find quite often, that it’s people with an inherent appreciation for fine watches and cars who are taken with the painstaking craftsmanship which goes into creating the Louis XIII. And w also why, people often buy a bottle as a gift: yes, it is fantastic to taste, but it also looks like y a million bucks! In my mind, there cannot be a more fitting vessel for what is truly, one of the last precious elixirs in existence.
Obviously I’m gushing a bit, but just the sheer legacy of Louis XIII – from nature to man, from one Cellar Master to another, from a customer to his son, is the stuff that legends are made of.
A Taste of History
The first swirl of Louis XIII floods the taster’s senses much before he actually sips the drink. ThThere’s a huge expectation level: here you are, tasting a blend which is a 100 years old. Immediately Louis XIII reveals notes and scents of myrrh, honey, immortelle, plum, honeysuckle, wood bark, leather and passion fruit, giving the taster an unequalled olfactory panorama – complex no doubt, but one that will leave you giddy and gratified. If you’ve tasted Louis XIII, you’ve just followed in the footsteps of people like Picasso, Churchill and General de Gaulle, not to mention royalty from all over the world – and added yet another occasion to the momentous annals of Louis XIII tastings. In fact, over the years, Louis XIII has been served, and been part of, some of the most privileged experiences of time, whether it’s a journey on the Orient Express or a supersonic flight on the Concorde. And contrary to what most people believe about cognac, there really isn’t a right time to partake of Louis XIII – no particular season, and certainly not just as a digestif.
I’ll never forget my first tasting…which was appropriately straight from the barrel at the dank cellars of Louis XIII in Cognac. I had the unique privilege of being accompanied by Cellar Master Trichet, who, reacting to me being at loss for words, articulated her understanding of my experience. “As luxurious as it can be, tasting Louis XIII is an experience of humility,” Pierrette remarked, “the century -old Louis XIII is beyond all of us…”