Founded in the small town of Cognac, north of Bordeaux in France, Rémy Martin has been creating fine cognacs for almost 300 years.
It’s the only major cognac house to be founded by a winegrower and, as Brand Ambassador Jack Charlton explains, while the brand is now known worldwide those humble roots are, quite literally, at the heart of the company.
The importance of terroir
“Rémy Martin specialises as a house in something called Cognac Fine Champagne, which means we only use the finest grapes from the very heart of the Cognac region which is renowned for its highly chalky soil. This gives us wonderfully aromatic grapes with unparalleled complexity and potential for ageing,” he says.
“The concept of Terroir is very important for us. It means what, in that area, imparts a unique characteristic to the final product, it’s personality. The chalk has an amazing knock-on effect: it holds the water in the ground and keeps it nice and cool which creates a microclimate. The white of the chalk also reflects the sunlight back off the ground so you get a slow ripening of the grapes. Terroir for me is all these little one 1% that add together; it’s not just the soil, or the rain, or the sun, it’s also the talented men and women who work with us to reveal the true potential of the Fine Champagne region.”
Rémy Martin has seen centuries of change and, as modern appetites and technologies evolve, the house is keeping pace. It’s diversifying into new worlds, maintaining an active online presence and giving clued-in consumers the tools to enjoy cognac in different ways (see below). The house is also collaborating with exciting international talent in the world of food.
“One of the reasons we’ve stood the test of time for 300 hundred years is our versatility and being able to adapt," Jack explains. "We’re working closely with chefs and sommeliers, really creating that affinity with the brand where they’re paring it with savoury dishes, not just the classical deserts people are used to. Working with this wave of young chefs, and wonderful restaurants where it’s all about opening your doors to people and getting them to try amazing stuff, I think cognac is a great fit for that.”
The appetite for cognac is also evolving and the traditional notion that a cognac drinker is male and in their mid-40s to mid-60s no longer holds true. The spirit is attracting a younger, more experimental customer too. “What we’re noticing now is a big draw towards cocktails and mixology,” he says.
“People are drinking less but they’re drinking better so they’re upgrading themselves. If you want something light and fresh in the summer mixed in cocktails or if you want something more silky and smooth to pair with food, we have something that ticks all the boxes.”
The Rémy Martin Collection
Jack talks us through the house's iconic expressions - and shares a classic cocktail recipe, one of many that can be created at home:
"With the ranges we have at the moment - starting with VSOP which is quite fresh and floral, moving all the way to XO which is a bit more opulent and complex - I think we literally have something for everyone," he says.
Rémy Martin VSOP
“This is one of our most iconic expressions, it was first created in 1927. Palates have changed through the time but we’ve always tried to keep that same freshness. It has a lot of toasted notes but there’s still some vanilla notes in there so it’s light and fresh.”
Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal
“This is beautiful and very versatile and is great served neat. We’re experimenting at the moment with frozen grapes to bring some of the fruit into the cognac and chill it down.”
Rémy Martin XO
“Rémy Martin's XO is our extra old cognac. It’s very opulent and luxurious. Due to the complexity, we’ve got that wonderful body that allows us to pair it with foods, whether that’s savoury, like parmesan or Spanish Iberico ham or even sweeter things, like dark chocolate. We’re doing a lot of work with some Michelin starred chefs.”
“At the moment we have an incredible expression called Rémy Martin Carte Blanche, Merpins Cellar Edition. This carefully curated Cognac is matured in a single vat and perfectly embodies the spirit of the House of Rémy Martin. It is bottled at the percentage proof naturally occurring in the vat with full of delicate notes of plum, gingerbread and honied notes, it’s absolutely delicious.
We also have a limited edition in partnership with an amazing artist and atelier called Steaven Richard who inspired an exclusive release of Rémy Martin XO for us. He’s an ironmonger by trade and has done a lot of work with numerous designers and five-star hotels in Paris and is famous for playing with textures and different perspectives. The bottle is stunning!"
One to try: The Royal Sidecar
“Once, the bartender knew everything and the public knew nothing. Now, everyone’s clued up and probably has some form of the shaker at home so they can make cocktails. We have some fantastic recipes on our website that can be scaled up for parties.
One that's been around for almost 100 years is the Royal Sidecar. Complex and extremely well-balanced, the first 'deluxe' version was created at Ritz Paris in 1923, an icon of cognac cocktails with an enchanting story, said to have been named after a motorcycle sidecar owned by a gentleman in Paris, then popularised in London: truly a tale of two cities."
Grab a cocktail shaker.
Add 35ml Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal, 30ml Cointreau and 15ml lemon juice with ice.
Shake then strain into your best coupe glass.
Garnish with a sliver of lemon zest.
For more Rémy Martin cocktails, go to out the website.