The 7 Big Cognac Houses: Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin, Couvoisier, Camus, Hine and Frapin
There are seven big and known Cognac houses, that are more or less dominating the Cognac market. They are well known in the region and always played an important role in the area. These maisons de Cognac managed to export their eaux-de-vie from Charente in the whole world: Camus, Courvoisier, Frapin, Hennessy, Hine, Martell and Rémy Martin.
Have a look at our list of all cognac brands or read more about the seven brands below.
A family tradition which lasts for 150 years: “How to produce a great Cognac ? It’s simple: you need a grandfather with a father and a son – who do it as well”, said Jean-Paul Camus.
Camus is one of the biggest Cognac houses in the region. The house acquires eaux-de-vie from over 200 different farmers The blends of Camus received several prizes and awards. The VSOP and the XO Supérieur are their blockbusters. Serge Manceau created a special edition for the house: It’s called Jubilée. Recently Camus has added Cognacs which are mainly produced on the Ile de Ré island at the Atlantic coast.
29, Rue Marguerite de Navarre
The bottles of Courvoisier are famous for their premium character. L’esprit, Succession for example but also the V.S. and the VSOP are known and respected in the world of Cognac. It all began with the two wine merchants Emmanuel Courvoisier and Louis Gallois. Originally they were from Bercy which is close to Paris – Bercy was a tax free zone; so a paradise for wine traders. 1811 Napoleon himself visited their wine cellar – apparently he took several barrels with him to the island of St. Helena, the emperor’s exile. From this time on it was called “Napoleon’s Cognac”.
In 1843, Felix Courvoisier established the Cognac house of Courvoisier in Jarnac. Naopleon III (not to confuse with the first) made Courvoisier the official purveyor to the court. The silhouette of Napoleon on the label was introduced in the 50s of the 20th century. Today, nobody really knows if that story of Napoleon is true or just a very early marketing gag by Emmanuel and Louis.
Courvoisier belongs to the spirits company Jim Beam today and the eaux-de-vie are acquired from 1000 independent wine farmers. Then they are blended by the Courvisier masters. The different eaux-de-vie come from the areas of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois.
Courvoisier Societé Anonyme
2, place du Château
The Frapin family was one of the first in the region: The family used to produce wine and distill Cognac for more than twenty generations. This is quite remarkable.
The family is well connected in the whole area of Charente and Cognac: Today, 80 year old Max Henry Cointreau manages the Cognac house – he is part of the dynasty of Remy Cointreau. His wife Geneviève Renaud is the daughter of Marie Frapin. It is rather unusual that such a company remains family-run for such a long time.
Frapin owns their own wineyards and executes the whole process from grape to the finished bottle. The Cognacs of Frapin age at one quarter in new Limousin oak barrels and the rest of it in older casks.
Frapin offers all the Cognac qualities from VS on. Probably the best product is the Cuvée 1888 from very old eaux-de-vie of the Grande Champagne area. Connoisseurs find notes of the Folle Blanche grapes in it, which used to be a very present wine variety before the vine fretter (Viteus vitifolii) catastrophe.
Some Frapin Cognac still are offered as Château de Fontpinot today.
Rue Pierre-Frapin, BP 1
Hennessy is the most successful Cognac house in the world – in terms of sales.
Richard Hennessy came from Ireland to Charente and founded the merchant house in 1765; he mainly traded with wine and his son, James Hennessy, started with distilling later on. By the end of the 18th century the company already exported their eaux-de-vie.
Since 1813 the company is called Jas Hennessy & Co and today it is part of luxury group Louis-Vuitton-Moet-Hennessy (LVMH). Hennessy is also one of the most recognized Cognac brands worldwide – the bottles are very popular in the US.
Jas Hennessy et Co
1, Rue Richonne
From “gangster” to Sir: Thomas Hine from Dorset (England) settled in the area of Cognac in 1791.
Before, his family used to smuggle the beverage. Thomas decided to distill Cognac on his own. But this did not work out because he was arrested for being a British spy. Later on he marries and receives a part of a Cognac house in Jarnac which then was called after him: Thomas Hine & Co.
Hine has a wide product range from the rather young “H” to “Mariage”, a blend out of 12 different Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie. The millesima Cognacs of 1957, 1975, 1981 and 1983 are available.
Thomas Hine & Co
16 quai Orangerie
Founded in 1715, Martell is one of the biggest Cognac houses. Its yearly revenue is about 230 mio € and Martell products can be found all over the world: it’s an omnipresent brand. Today, Martell is part of Pernod Ricard and packages its designed bottles carefully: There is a Ritz-Cognac, Cognacs in bottles designed by Andrée Putman or Serge Mansau.
7 place Edouard Martell
King Louis XV. granted Rémy Martin the ultimate privilege to create a new vineyard in 1731. The remarkable part of that story is, that the company of Monsieur Martin was only 7 years old – it was founded in 1724. In the 19th century, Rémy Martin puts a centaur on its labels.
Today, Rémy Martin offers a wide range of different Cognacs. To mention is Louis XIII, which is a total high-end Cognac – it’s extremely rare and limited to a small amount of bottles.
20, rue Société Vinicole