“Once you taste cognac, you never go back”
“Stunning, isn’t it?” I’m shaken out of my trance by the French accent of the international brand ambassador of the House of Rémy Martin, a knowing look in his crystal-blue eyes. Picking up the glass bottle full of sparkling liquid, which I was very evidently staring at, and pouring the renowned Louis XIII cognac into exquisite glasses, Alexandre Quintin beams. “I’ve seen that look before. Our female guests in particular appreciate the decanters as well as the glassware exclusively designed for the drink. But what they love the most is the nose,” he says, handing me a glass as he swirls the liquid around in his. I carefully follow his lead. “It’s built like a perfume — 1,200 kinds of eaux de vie along with the best grapes of the Cognac region create an extraordinary aromatic intensity. This is a century in a bottle, after all.”
Do you remember your first-ever encounter with cognac?
“Without a doubt…. I was working as a bartender in a five- star hotel in England, and the F&B director wanted to thank me for a job well done. He grabbed a Louis XIII decanter, which I marvelled at with wide eyes — I’d only seen it in movies before — and poured me a large glass, after which he left. Alone with this precious spirit, almost shaking, I sipped just a tiny drop first, which is what you’re supposed to do. It was an incredible moment, maybe 10 years before I even joined the brand, and it has stayed with me. Once you taste cognac, you never go back…and I’m not just saying that because it rhymes!”
What makes Louis XIII so special?
“It’s synonymous with the finest-quality cognac for many reasons. Firstly, it’s very balanced on the tongue; you can feel the richness and opulence along with an explosion of flavour. Also the aftertaste and how long it stays on the palate are key signs of a good cognac.”
If this drink were a woman, how would you describe her?
“Ah, lovely…she’d have a lot of character. A very elegant lady, she’d also be feisty, witty, sensual and well-dressed. Once you got to know her, you’d be in love.”
How would you create a cognac just for India?
“I’d ask the cellar master to look for an ingredient that’s visually beautiful and unique. It would stay in the barrel for a long time to make it more colourful, and the decanter would have a lot of diﬀerent harmonious patterns and shapes, like your dresses. The cognac would be round, smooth, smoky and spicy!”