Louis XIII’s Bottled Concentration of Time
It’s in the desire to do something unexpected with a real savoir-faire and the certainty in the value of history that Louis XIII cognac produces a truly one-of-a-kind spirit. With a near century-long aging process and 150-180 years of oak tree maturity for the house’s unique tierçon barrels (longer and thinner pieces of wood used in construction), the cellarmaster himself never personally sees the result of his work. Instead, they trustfully finish the job of generations before, only to commence the process for the century ahead, meaning that each Louis XIII decanter bottles the achievements of generations. Because when all is said and done, Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau says, “Time is exactly what I am making.” All it amounts to is trusting the daily experience of the wine from the Grande Champagne region and the centuries of experience within the house through a process of distillation, aging, and blending. While the eau de vie does its own little ballet with the walls of the oak tierçons, the story goes beyond the spirit itself. “It’s about delayed gratification that is so important today when everything is so instant with all the social networks and all the likes,” Loiseau sums up.
A lovechild of the house of Rémy Martin, Louis XIII (founded in 1874), has always offered a good story, including its namesake French King. “Our competitor is not in the wine and spirit industry—it is beyond the wine and spirit,” says the brand’s global executive director Ludovic du Plessis. “For us, the competitors are Chanel and Hermès. When we place our boutique in the world, we place them in the luxury department stores.” With an array of auction-shelf whiskeys and neighborly Bordeaux wines, Louis XIII ultimately doesn’t fit in that picture. The brand focuses on the sustainability of French forests too, in protecting history and remaking the famed tierçons for future generations. Louis XIII even collaborated on a song with Pharrell Williams that will only be released in a century as its only version is made on a clay disk destroyable by nature’s extremes. The curious passion for something so inexplicable comes through in the actual spirit: a deep tropical fruit scent at first whiff resembling guava berries and a proper marriage of autumnal French fruits including fig jam. Ultimately, the spirit paints a history lesson inside a beautiful Baccarat decanter: “We are drinking time… Time is our raw material.”