Built on the famous chalky soil of Cognac in the South West of France, nestled amidst arguably the best cognac producing grape vines in the world, is the House of LOUIS XIII. The lucky few who have been invited into its special LOUIS XIII cellar can be excused for not immediately realising the treasure contained in the century-old, tierçons lining the walls (tierçons are incredibly rare aged barrels made from Limousin oak).
The story of LOUIS XIII cognac is, in its essence, a story about time. The time it takes to produce an exquisite cognac, the time captured in each carefully crafted decanter and the time it takes to enjoy it. Each decanter of LOUIS XIII contains a blend of up to 1, 200
eaux-de-vie (water of life).
“Cognac is the product of human genius, nature, and time”
— Baptiste Loiseau
Creator Paul-Emile Rémy Martin had a vision; to create the ultimate luxury spirit on the planet from the oldest eaux-de-vie available. He chose to name it LOUIS XIII in tribute to the King of France, LOUIS XIII, the protector of the Cognac region.
The Connoisseurs of LOUIS XIII
“When you discover LOUIS XIII, you become a different man” – George Clot, Cellar Master at LOUIS XIII During its long existence, LOUIS XIII has become known as the King of Cognacs because of the cognac’s admirers. Since the end of the 19th century, LOUIS XIII has officially been awarded Purveyor to highly prestigious Royal and Imperial Courts – Austria-Hungary (1898), the Royal court of Bayern (1903) and the Royal court of Sweden (1956).
The people who enjoy LOUIS XIII are as exceptional as the cognac; Charles de Gaulle drank it to mark the first anniversary of France’s liberation in 1944. Winston Churchill first discovered the cognac on a trip to Aixen-Provence in 1948 and appreciated it so much that he had a supply of LOUIS XIII delivered to him while writing his autobiography in France years later.
The Voyages of LOUIS XIII
During its hundred- and forty-one-year history, LOUIS XIII has travelled the globe. The first casks of the cognac were shipped as far as Scandinavia and even Australia in
1875. By the end of the 1880s, LOUIS XIII was shipped to South Africa and most Asian countries – India, Indonesia, Japan and China. As the brand’s popularity kept growing,
LOUIS XIII crossed Europe on board the Orient-Express to Constantinople in 1929.
In 1935 LOUIS XIII travelled on board the maiden voyage of The SS Normandie (the fastest ocean liner of its time) in which the cognac was served to wealthy Americans, traveling to France from New York, in the liner’s first-class cabinets. LOUIS XIII was also on the inaugural flight of the Concorde in 1984.
Building on the Past, Working for the Future
It’s simplest to think of the LOUIS XIII cellar masters as old cathedral builders who knew that they would not live to see the finished structure. Each LOUIS XIII cellar master selects promising eaux-de-vie, which they nurture with the recognition that the next master or even the one thereafter will finally craft a singular cognac from their work. They themselves, of course, are privileged to blend from the work of their predecessors. On an average, four cellar masters work on each offering of LOUIS XIII. The current cellar master, Baptiste Loiseau, 37, is the youngest cellar master who loves his work.
A Timeless Presentation of LOUIS XIII
It is said that the design of the iconic LOUIS XIII crystal decanter is based on that of an old metal flask. This bottle was acquired in 1850 by Paul-Émile Rémy Martin I from a peasant who, supposedly, found it on the site of the battle of Jarnac in 1569, in which the Duke of Anjou fought the Prince of Condé. It is said that Paul-Émile was so taken by its distinctive shape that he had the design recreated in glass.
No two LOUIS XIII decanters are the same. Each decanter requires the perfect synchronization of 11 craftsmen who first blow the crystal then place the characteristic ornaments (like the fleur-de-lis) by hand and decorate the neck with 24-carat gold in a
nearly balletic performance that is timed to complete each operation while the glass remains at the perfect temperature.
The rare casks travel in detailed forged metal ‘strongboxes’ that are sealed by a plaque that matches the precious neck chosen for the decanter. As the halves of the coffret (chest) part, the interior is illuminated and the luster of black crystal and rose gold is displayed to sublime effect. Mirrors contribute to the play of light on sparkling crystal details.
Experiencing LOUIS XIII – An unforgettable experience
“LOUIS XIII is larger than us. It represents over four generations of cellar masters, and because of that, we need to take the time to properly appreciate it – Yves de Launay, vice president of prestige brands for LOUIS XIII USA.
Any proper tasting of LOUIS XIII starts with the eyes – admiring the rich mahogany liquid that is the trademark of a long-aged cognac, as it is gently swirled around in a crystal glass (designed by the legendary Christophe Pillet).
The next step is a delicate sniff of the cognac while the glass is held at around chest height. At the first whiff, an exquisite perfume of fresh flowers and jasmine wafts up from the glass. At second, the scents transform into prune, fig and nutty flavours like hazelnut. Just before tasting the cognac the aroma changes to spice notes along with vanilla and honey.
When it comes to actual tasting, Loiseau suggests starting with one small drop, allowing it to coat the taste buds, and letting it explode into a firework of over 200 aromas and flavours. The flavors continue to develop on the palate – up to an hour later. LOUIS XIII is a fragrance of time – when you drink LOUIS XIII you are essentially drinking time.