In 1881, the first decanters of Louis XIII cognac arrived in the Cape. To put this into perspective, Joburg was founded five years later. One hundred and thirty-six years on, Louis XII remains the oldest, most exclusive cognac in the world – and we had the great pleasure of tasting it with Jorg Pfutzner, the Private Client Director of the House of Rémy Martin.
It may be a bold claim to say that Louis XIII, produced byRémy Martin, is the oldest and most exclusive cognac on earth but they have the history, traditions and – most importantly – the taste to back it up. In 1850, Paul-Emile Rémy Martin, the fourth generation in the family, came to possess a metallic flask that was (supposedly) discovered at the site of the 1569 Battle of Jarnac. He immediately knew he was going to something special with it, and set off to make the most luxurious spirit in the world.
On 13 June 1874, Louis XIII was released, bottled in a crystal decanter modelled after that very same flask. That same design is still in use today. Named for the king who protected the cognac heartlands, Louis XIII uses the oldest and best Eaux-de-vie to make their exceptional product.
‘Louis XIII is regarded as the most luxurious spirit on the planet,’ says Jorg. ‘It’s intricate alchemy of 1200 Eaux-de-vie is also known as the water of life. The youngest component of Eaux-de-vie is at least 40 years old and it takes four generations of cellar masters 100 years to craft every decanter – that’s why it’s also known as a century in a bottle.’
The crystal decanter with its gold-plated label is intimidating enough but knowing all the hard work, craftsmanship and time that goes into making the cognac makes the simple act of opening a bottle extra special. As impressive as all this is, the real test is in the taste.
Jorg takes us through the proper way to taste Louise XIII. Before the dark amber liquid even touches your lips, you get a sense of how incredible it is from the smell alone. Complex and fragrant, the notes are of dried roses, plum, honeysuckle leather and passion fruit.
And when you finally get a taste of the cognac, it hits you like a bomb – exploding in your mouth and filling every corner with flavour. Nuts, honey, leather and dried fruit float in and out of each other, creating a complex symphony with every sip. The liquid is so smooth, almost ethereal – and the impact you get on that first sip doesn’t lessen.
All the years spent perfecting the cognac, using the best of the best ingredients is present in the Louis XIII experience. We say experience because that is what it is: it’s life changing. Jorg describes it best when he says:
‘Louis XIII has four applications. It opens your heart. It opens your mind as you drink it, taking in its complexity. It slows down time as you enjoy it with those you love. And it has the absolute ability to create unforgettable moments. It’s like your first love you’ll never forget.’
Photography Courtesy images