Introducing Delamain Cognac: A history dating back to 1759

If you’ve not yet familiar with Delamain Cognac, then we have to say, you’re in for a treat.  With a history that can be traced back to the 1600s, Delamain could, quite legitimately, be considered Cognac royalty. Find all Delamain Cognacs in our online shop.

This is a house that prides itself in producing Cognacs that are somewhat out of the ordinary. Even their regular range of Cognacs is pretty special, with the lowest quality being an XO. But where Delamain differs from most other houses is their unique production of superb quality vintage Cognacs. And we’ll talk more about those in a moment…

But first of all, let’s take a little journey back in time that’ll give you some insight into what makes the house of Delamain so very special.

Spanning the centuries

Reams could be written about the history of Delamain.  However, for the sake of being concise, we’ve condensed it down into a more digestible version.

It was 1625 when Nicolas Delamain fled the Protestant reign of France and headed for England.  He was a man of honor, and was presented with a knighthood from King Charles I.  The coat of arms bestowed upon him still makes up a part of the house’s trademark image today – that of three bloody crosses.

Nicolas was appointed to Ireland, and, as to be expected, family members were born and the family line continued. It was in 1759 when a descendent of Nicolas, James, returned to France at age 21. He traveled to Jarnac in the Charente where he joined forces with a Cognac trader named Issac Ranson–one of the earliest Cognac producers on record.

Of course, thanks to his family connections, it fell to James to nurture the Irish market, which he did very successfully. And  when in 1762 he married Ranson’s daughter, Marie, he was made a partner in the company which was renamed Ranson & Delamain.

The business flourished, and in the 18th century, Ranson & Delamain were well known as one of the leading Cognac houses. However, towards the end of the century the French Revolution hit, and this, along with the Napoleonic Wars and the Continental trade blockage, saw testing times. Add in the fact that James and his son, Jacques, did not get along, and the scene was well set as a recipe for disaster.

James died in 1800, and the complicated French inheritance laws (which remain unchanged to this day!) saw the company divided up between his seven children. This divide was not rectified for two decades, and it took the efforts of Anne Philippe Delamain (James’s grandson) to reunite the company along with two of his cousins from the Roullet family. So the name of the Cognac house changed once again, to Roullet & Delamain.

Things went somewhat more sweetly for over a century, and in 1920, Jacques and Robert Delamain purchased Roullet’s shares. It was then that the house was finally renamed Delamain & Co. Jacques son, Jean, joined the business, and today the house is headed by Alan Braastad-Delamain, Robert’s grandson. Today, the Cognac house is part of Jacques Bollinger–one of the best Champagne producers out there. You really couldn’t get it better. Now if that’s not an intricate history, then we don’t know what is!

Products, specialities, and what you need to know

Delamain is one of the few family run Cognac houses to survive today. Run by Charles Braastad and Patrick Peyrelongue, it might surprise you to know that the house doesn’t own a single square meter of their own vineyards. Instead, they select and purchase only the very best eaux-de-vie from the premier cru of the region, Grande Champagne. And boy are they picky!

Around 400 samples are sent to the house each year, and after a rigorous testing by Charles, Patrick, and cellar master, Domonique Touteau, only around 10% of these are deemed of high enough quality to be purchased.

These guys are, it has to be said, perfectionists. Indeed, the family history is an illustrious list of names that could almost make up a ‘Who’s Who’ of Cognac. This includes Robert Delamain, author of the famed book, A History of Cognac, written in 1935, that’s still considered one of the primary reference books on the subject of Cognac to this day.

So. What about the Cognacs?

Well, back in 1920, they created two of their Cognac classics, the Delamain Pale & Dry–an elegant XO, and the Delamain Tres Venerable. 1976 saw the birth of the Delamain Le Vesper, another XO that’s truly fabulous, full bodied, with a superb lengthy finish.

Another very popular blend is Delamain Extra, which is older yet than the Pale & Dry and the Vesper. This is a very mature, bold Cognac with a deep amber glow.

As we mentioned earlier, Delemain is king of the speciality Cognac. They carefully select various vintage years to be crafted into limited edition delights (usually only 150-220 bottles are produced, making them very sought after as collector’s items). As with all of Delamain’s Cognacs, each is from Grande Champagne, and there are amazing vintage Millesime Delamain Cognacs from years such as 1963, 1966, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1980, and 1986.

Delamain really is a special house. In addition to their Cognacs, they also welcome visitors to their Chateau as long as this is arranged in advance.  If you’re in the Cognac region, this really is a treat, and a true discovery back through time. There’s the ‘library cellar’, where single barrels of Cognac from the years are kept as an index of all that have been used through the centuries.

The further you walk through the library, the older the Cognacs become. And if that’s a peek into the past, then the aging cellar is perhaps a glimpse into the future. Here, extra special Cognacs are quietly whiling away the years and decades, before one day–perhaps in our lifetime for some, and for others well after we’ve shuffled off this earth–they’ll be deemed suitably aged to be bottled and placed up for sale for future generations to enjoy.

Tasting Sets–the perfect introduction

A great introduction to the Cognacs of Delamain is through one of the tasting sets on offer. There are a few to choose from, each offering a selection of 200ml bottles that provide the perfect opportunity to discover what wonderful quality they have to offer.

The Delamain Pack Collection Tasting Set consists of 5 x 200ml bottles:

  • The Pale & Dry XO
  • The Vesper XO
  • The l”Extra de Grande Champagne
  • The Tres Venerable
  • The Reserve de la Familie

The Delamain Amabassador Box Tasting Set consists of 3 x 200ml bottles:

  • The Pale & Dry XO
  • The Vesper XO
  • The l’Extra de Grande Champagne

In addition it comes in a smart attache case with 2 tasting glasses

The Delamain Gift Box Trio

  • The Pale & Dry XO
  • The Vesper XO
  • The Tres Venerable

As you might have guessed, we’re big fans of Delamain Cognac. It is definitely a house that is worth checking out if you’ve not yet had the pleasure. Take some time and discover the fine and sophisticated nuances.

And last (but certainly not least) if all of these extraordinary Cognacs weren’t enough to be talked about, we have to give a mention to the flagship product of Delamain, the Le Voyage de Delamain Cognac. This a Grande Champagne Hors d’Age beauty presented in a super-stylish Baccarat Crystal decanter and case. This was created to honor the journey taken by James Delamain from Ireland back to France in the mid-18th century and the history that has culminated in what Delamain is today…

Learn more about Delamain Cognac and purchase in our online shop.

 

Image courtesy Cognac de l’Aigle Delamain & Cie: alienor.org

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