Time, in a bottle
As a tribute to the genius idea by Paul-Emile Remy Martin back in 1874, the cognac house of the same name decided to – towards the end of last year – launch the Time Collection. This collection is the first of a continual tribute to the exceptional Louis XIII. This idea of such an exclusive and rare cognac was birthed by Paul-Emile’s stellar conception of blending the oldest and rarest Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie from his cellars; a total of 1,200 different ones, aged between 40 and 100 years old. The oldest ones at the time, could not be determined on its exact age, and were labelled as ‘age unknown’.
This idea, which meant availing eaux-de-vie dating from 1774 in the making, was unheard of in its time and catapulted Louis XIII into the consciousness of aristocratic parties and the upper echelons of grand society.
“Really, Louis XIII’s creation invented the idea of a luxury spirit, one which the kings and queens of the world saw fit to celebrate with," says Vincent Gere, Louis XIII’s Asia Pacific Director and Chief Representative.
This first release of the Time Collection recently arrived in Malaysia, called “The Origin – 1874" (RM21,200), remembers the very first decanter of 1874. It sports 13 dentelle spikes – instead of the current 10 – and an upturned flagon stopper – in lieu of the standard crystal fleur-de-lis. The original bottle of 1874 has an even older reference, an ancient royal flask originating from 1569 which was discovered by a farmer near Jarnac. Historical discovery speaks of this flask being present at the scene of a battlefield many years ago, when two lords’ armies clashed in the time of Henry III, who ruled France as its King.
To recreate this historic tribute, the house of Remy Martin enlisted the help of a similarly venerable house. The Saint-Louis Cristalleries are the oldest glassmakers in Europe, with a lineage that dates back to 1586. Their savoir faire results in a pure crystal decanter which contains the same, momentous cognac that has thrilled and moved monarchs of yore. This decanter is then housed in a stylish woven-textured metal case – a contemporary interpretation of the olden-day Louis XII which lay in wicker baskets.
“What makes the Louis XIII so special is that we are faithful to what it is," Gere explains. “It is not for us to improve or try to make the best Louis XIII – we make the original and that is why the cognac is a time capsule," he says. Gere recounts his own emotional journey with the drink which begins through the aromas of flowers, an everlasting scent which segues into forest walk of earthly delights; humus, autumnal leaves, mushrooms, and leather and cigar boxes, before it takes on the mind-boggling aftertaste of a full hour on the palate, where all the expressions of the terroir continue to emerge.
“Our biggest source of inspiration lies in the responsibility which we share to transmit the values of Louis XIII," Gere says, wistfully. “Once you realise that you do not make the drink, it becomes a very powerful idea which drives you to keep on writing new pages of history. We think beyond our lifetime and I’ve already selected some eaux-de-vie – on the advice of cellar masters – that will go into making Louis XIII in the year 2115."