A collective gasp hushed the party chatter; silverware stopped clinking; ribald jokes went unfinished. A waiter had dropped a glass of cognac. On a guest. While a spill could ruin anyone’s night, this dram was from Rémy Martin’s Louis XIII Rare Cask. At $22,000 a bottle, this was an extremely pricey mishap.
The setting was a black-tie dinner on a small island in Udaipur, India, where connoisseurs had gathered to sample the second Rare Cask in Rémy Martin’s 289-year history. Debuting this month, the high-end version of Rémy’s Louis XIII line comes in a black crystal decanter crafted by 20 artisans and trimmed in rose gold. The spirit spent almost 100 years aging in barrels (as opposed to some cognac’s four) and has, at 42.6 percent, a higher alcohol content. It’s also much harder to get: Only 738 bottles will be released worldwide.
It’s safe to say stumbling onto something worthy of being labeled Rare Cask was as unplanned as that spill. In this case, the credit goes to Rémy Martin’s revered cellar master, Pierrette Trichet, for spotting it early: “In 2009, when I was tasting casks for Louis XIII, I identified a few casks where the aromatic complexity was different,” she says. “Over three years, I tasted the blends again and again, and I realized one was very special.”
As Rémy Martin chairman Dominique Hériard-Dubreuil, whose family has run the house since 1925, explains, “Louis XIII is a blend of very old eaux-de-vie that started with family reserves, so the principle was to make sure that the very best were selected if they had potential.”
Collectors are on the hunt for the resulting cognac, containing notes of autumn fruits, tobacco leaf, wood bark and myrrh. But, of course, once they find Rare Cask, it’s their own responsibility not to lose a single drop.