Four successive master craftsmen, the blend of over one thousand different eaux-de-vie produced from the finest century-old Grande Champagne, and a crystal carafe inspired by a metal gourd war relic can only mean one thing; the world famous Rémy Martin Louis XIII.
Created from a blend of up to 1,200 carefully selected eaux-de-vie, the legend of the Cognac that’s been reimagined multiple times over three centuries is a fascinating tale—not only of an iconic spirit, but as a reminder of many key events that have propelled the industry into the global phenomenon that it is today.
The History of Louis XIII
We must travel back in time to 1874 to discover the origins of Louis XIII, the year it was unveiled at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. The man responsible, Paul-Emile Rémy Martin, had already embraced innovation by beginning to bottle Cognacs rather than sell them by the barrel. The very best of this was a blend of pure Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie presented in an ornate decanter that was to become the classic Cognac known as Louis XIII.
Why the name Louis XIII?
The name was chosen to honor King Louis XIII of France. The reigning monarch when the family Rémy Martin made their home in the Cognac region in the 1620s, it was considered a fitting tribute for the man who first recognized Cognac as a spirit in its own right.
The historical importance of Louis XIII grows year after year. Discover some of the ways the Cognac has been utilized to create royal-inspired cocktails in our article Louis XIII: The King of Cognacs Mixed Especially for a Queen and more about this and other royal offerings in 6 Royal Cognacs Fit for a King.
The Master Crafters Behind Louis XIII
As the romance of this world-famous Cognac gathered pace, every passing of the cellar master mantle to the next in line bestowed the responsibility the Louis XIII creation to new shoulders.
The dynasty of the cellar masters
André Renaud (1924-1960) played a crucial role in laying the foundations of Louis XIII as we know it today. It was he, perhaps more than anyone, who hammered home the message that to bring this fabled Cognac to life it was necessary to “think a century ahead”.
André Giraud (1960-1990) was singled out by Renaud as a young apprentice and prepared over 17 years before he took his position at the helm, aged 37.
Georges Clot (1990-2003) had a laboratory-based background and this skill was well utilized as he led the house into the new millennium.
Baptiste Loiseau (2014-present) uses eau-de-vie selected by his predecessors up to 100 years ago to bring us today’s Louis XIII. He has the considerable task of selecting and preparing those that will be utilized by the cellar masters of the future to continue the creation of this globally acclaimed Cognac.
Important historical expressions
With so many pivotal landmarks during the history of Louis XIII, two expressions in particular stand out in tribute to its remarkable chronicle.
Louis XIII The Origin – 1874:
Released in 2017, The Origin 1874 was the first in a new collection entitled ‘Time’. Each release will celebrate a chapter in the history of the brand. This one pays tribute to the original decanter of the year of its name, and has been fashioned from Saint-Louis Crystal and presented in a woven metal case. This was inspired by the wicker baskets in which the first bottles of Louis XIII were delivered all those years ago.
Remy’s Louis XIII’s Global Executive Director, Ludovic du Plessis, says of the new release, “The greatest stories often have humble beginnings, and ours is no exception. The Origin – 1874 – marks one of the landmark moments in Louis XIII’s fascinating story, and it will become part of your own personal legacy and tale”.
The Cognac retails at around $US 7,208
Louis XIII Legacy
Only 500 of these were created and each bears pictures and signatures of four out of the five Remy Cellar Masters who’ve held the position. Each crystal decanter is presented in a beautifully crafted box made from Italian calfskin leather, and bears a numbered plaque.
This one needs deep pockets to own, as a decanter retailed at around US$12,000.
Why is Louis XIII So Expensive?
No-one can ever say that Louis XIII is cheap! But why is it so expensive? OK, so we know that the eaux-de-vie that it’s made from is up to a century in the making, and that’s always going to cost. But there are plenty of other reasons that make Louis 13 sport its hefty price tag.
The Baccarat decanter
Louis XIII is as well known for its ornate decanter with fleur-de-lys stopper as it is the precious nectar it cradles. Considered to be as much as a work of art as it is a Cognac of the finest grade, this symbol of luxe graces the tables of the rich, the famous, and the nobility across the globe.
The nature of the blend is that it can’t be mass produced. As with any commodity that’s in short supply, the value rises accordingly.
As the years roll by the appeal of Louis XIII continues to grow, and Remy Martin further taps into this desire. For instance, the brand sponsored a private jet exhibition in Hollywood in 2011, with interested parties able to sip on the Cognac while viewing the US$1.5 million Access Custom 4-seater jet.
The brand even has its own app. This provides information about the Cognac, as well as immersing you in a world of luxury travel destinations, art, technology, cars, and design at the highest level.
Or what about its use in some of the world’s most decadent cocktails? The Icarus, sold at NYC’s Covet Nightclub and created by mixologist Orson Salicetti, will set you back a cool $160 a pop! Combining Louis XIII and Iranian Saffron oil, the bar sold only six in its first year of trading (2010).
You have to hand it to the brand’s marketing team—they embrace every aspect of enhancing the allure and mystery. For example, when a New Zealand earthquake (with no fatalities, we hasten to add) smashed a decanter of Louis 13 at the Wellington Regional Wines and Spirits Outlet, this made headline news.
Great spin, we have to admit…
Of course, Louis XIII may top the leader board when it comes to worldwide domination, but it’s certainly not the only crafted Cognac bling on the market. Check out these gems in our article 11 Flashiest Cognacs and Cognac-Associated Products.
Size is Everything: Large Expressions of Louis XIII
Being as the Cognac is associated with a great deal of razzmatazz, it makes sense that there’s some OTT large expressions out there.
The Jeroboam Magnum
On June 15, 2011, the Louis XIII Le Jeroboam was launched at Paris’s Trocadero. Four times bigger than a regular decanter, this crystal giant was created by the Cristallerie de Sèvres and encased in a luxurious oak presentation box. This size bottle holds an impressive 4/5 of a gallon of liquid (just over 3 liters).
Fast forward to 2018 and the world was presented with Le Salmanazar, a gigantic expression created as a one-off format that holds a jaw-dropping 9 liters of Cognac (that’s nearly 2 gallons!). It took 20 master sculptors to create it at the Baccarat Crystal factory and—without a single drop of Cognac in it—weighs over 15 kilos (just over 33 lbs.).
This meticulous work was overseen by the master sculptor who’s been bestowed with the highest honor in the industry, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Small and Beautifully Packaged: Miniature Bottles
At the other end of the scale (and in some cases, infinitely more affordable) is the delightful range of miniature bottles that’ve been created over the years.
“Regular” Louis XIII Miniature Bottle
Retailing at around US$762, the beautifully presented 50ml size of Louis XIII in miniature Baccarat crystal resplendence is a delight to behold.
Louis XIII Miniature Gold Diamonds Edition
In 2011 this rather decadent ‘frosted’ version was produced as a one-off by Mike the Jeweler from M&J Jewelers. The tiny decanter was embellished with 27 carats of yellow and black diamonds and a rather healthy dose of pure gold.
Louis XIII Miniature Fleur de Diamants Edition
2012 also brought its own miniature Louis 13 special—the Fleur de Diamants. This limited edition delighted not only Cognac lovers, but those of fine jewelry as well. Atop the Baccarat Crystal flask is a Fleur de Lys stopper containing 5 diamonds of 0.4-0.5 carats. This crystal stopper is attached to a crimson colored chain and can be removed and worn as a stunning pendant necklace.
Louis XIII Limited Editions
As the years pass each cellar master has reimagined Louis XIII in their own unique fashion, bringing us some very special limited editions and sub-editions.
Black Pearl (Silver Decanter)
This silver decanter version has been brought to us in various iterations, most being created in collaboration with former company chairman, Heriard Dubreuil, and using his own private reserves of eau-de-vie.
Examples include the Louis XII Black Pearl AHD, the Louis XIII Anniversary Edition and a single bottle that was created especially for the Montreal, Canada restaurant, La Queue de Cheval, to celebrate the 2011 Montreal Grand Prix.
Black Pearl Rare Cask 42,6
So named because it’s ABV is 42.6%, this expression was launched in 2013. the Cognac Expert team were privileged to be invited to the Remy Martin HQ and were able to taste the hallowed nectar in the presence of none other than Pierrette Trichet and Baptiste Loiseau.
The cellar master said of her masterpiece, “In the autumn of 2009, I tasted all the Cognacs in the cellar and noticed a particular tierçon I’d marked with chalk to represent that it possessed unique and special aromas. I couldn’t recall, so re-tasted and realized,, yes , yes! I continued to allow it to age, and in 2012, along with Baptiste, we both decided that the famous balance point had been reached and it was the harmony that we were looking for”.
Only 738 of these were produced and retailed at 18,000 euros (approx. USD$23,000)
Louis 13 in Music and Film
Of course, such an iconic brand of Cognac has been immortalized many times in the world of movies and music.
Cannes Film Festival Limited Edition
In 2012 Max visited the Cannes Film Festival and learned much about the collaboration between Louis XIII and the world of the red carpet. Here he brushed shoulders with movie stars such as Sean Penn and other beautiful people as he partied like a movie mogul and clubbed like there was no tomorrow…
Check out Max’s antics in our blog article, Louis XIII by Remy Martin: From the Cannes Film Festival to the Cognac Estates Cellars.
The Cognac brand also partners with Martin Scorsese in the not-for-profit film preservation organization—The Film Foundation.
Pharrell, Louis XIII, and a time jump 100 years into the future
In 2017 Pharrell and the most famous Cognac in the world lent their might to the climate change efforts. Building on the legend that is the ‘100 years in the making’ eau-de-vie, the music superstar has recorded a song (entitled, perhaps somewhat unoriginally, 100 Years) and it’s been locked away for the same amount of time.
Whether the song will ever be heard is another matter. The recording has been consigned to a clay disc and locked in a safe that will self-destruct if it becomes submerged in water. A powerful message indeed… Read more in our article, Remy Martin Louis XIII & Pharrell Williams: 100 Years.
Louis 13 in the Culinary World
Of course, the foodies out there haven’t had their needs ignored when it comes to Louis XIII innovation. Feast your eyes on the following (just try not to choke on the prices…)
The Louis XIII cupcake: This could only occur in Vegas–home of the OTT, extravagant, and downright bizarre… The humble cupcake has been given a makeover by pastry chef Michelle Turbano and executive chef Johann Springinsfeld at the Venetian and Palazzo resorts to create a US$750 monstrosity that boasts a smattering of 14 carat gold, Venezuelan chocolate, and a hand-blown sugar fleur-de-lys filled with Louis XIII.
The Remy Martin Slurpee: Staying in the City of Angels, can you believe that you can even get this work of art in Slurpee form? It’s certainly got us shaking our heads… At $100 bucks a drink, the Straw-Bama and the Coco Loco are being served up at the Mandalay Bay Evening Call Frozen Beverage Experience, each of which contains a measure of Louis XIII.
We can only imagine the consternation of current and former Remy Martin Cellar Masters, to hear of their beloved creation being used in such a manner. And, horror of horrors, to make things worse (if that’s possible) it’s even served in a plastic cup!
The Dragon Hot Dog: For this we have to head to Vancouver, Canada, and yes—it really is a hot dog that’s been infused with this classic Cognac. For anyone who wishes to spend CAD$100 on a dog, it might give you scant pleasure that you’re eating a Guinness Book of Record holder for the most expensive such morsel ever sold. Along with the eau-de-vie, it also contains Kobe beef, fresh lobster, and is seared in truffle and olive oil. It was invented to celebrate the Chinese Year of the Dragon in 2012.
The Louis XIII Hermes Trunk
OK, this is a collaboration we can get behind. Entitled the Hermes Louis XIII L’Odyssée d’un Roi, this gorgeous gray leather trunk contains three magnums of the Cognac and two hand blown tulip glasses produced by Europe’s oldest glassmakers, Saint-Louis. Read more in our blog post, Hermes Creates Leather Trunk for Louis XIII.
Of course, this iconic Cognac and its many guises has led to many of them becoming highly sought-after collector’s items.
Cognac Expert auctions
We’re proud to be able to showcase many privately owned items for sale on our auctions page. This person-to-person facility was set up after many people contacted us asking how they could purchase or sell prized collector pieces. From Louis XIII rarities to other old and valuable Cognacs, we provide a service to assist both buyers and sellers. Find out more at our dedicated page, Cognac Auctions.
Quest for a Legend
So varied are the many faces of Louis XIII that the house itself launched a promotion to find the rarest decanter ever produced. This was done back in 2015 and, as of yet, we’re not aware of any results being published. The initiative came to pass in order to celebrate the brand’s 140th anniversary. It’s known that the first few decanters of this precious liquor left Europe for the USA in 1867. Subsequently, some reached countries in Asia by 1881. Remy is excited to come across some of the oldest and rarest of these bottles.
Ms. Marie Amelia Jacquet, a member of the Remy Martin family, said, “We are looking not just for the oldest, but also the rarest decanter. A lot will be the condition of the decanter. We are looking for full decanters. The level of the liquid as well – but there may be some natural evaporation sometimes, especially with the older decanters”.
Owners and collectors of Louis XIII decanters are encouraged to enter. This can be done by sending photos and details of the bottle to Remy Martin either in person to their local Remy Martin Office, or via SMS text, WhatsApp or online.
Global Auction Prices
Many bottles of Louis XIII are offered via auction around the world. They vary in estimated prices, but regularly exceed these by thousands of dollars. For example, Prestigious UK based auction house, Bonhams, auctioned a rare bottle of Remy Martin Louis XIII Black Pearl in 2010 for nearly twice its estimate.
There’s quite a nice back story to this one as the decanter had spent many years languishing in a shopping mall on a luxury cruise liner. A canny South African manager enjoying a Mediterranean cruise spotted the gem and snapped it up. He then placed it into top London auction house. Bonhams, who estimated the Baccarat decanter encased Cognac at between £5,000 – £7,000 (approx. US$6,200-$8,600).
It actually sold for £10,350… (US$12,810).
Similar stories surrounding Louis XII play out time and time again, making it a savvy investment choice for those keen on taking a gamble.
With an unmistakable myriad of colors, ranging from gentle golden sparkles to deep mahogany to flaming reds, Louis XIII is a kaleidoscope of beauty. The centuries old oak tierçons in which the nectar is aged infuse the liquid with an intense flavor that lingers on the palate; the richness of which is spiced with tones of nutmeg and ginger and delicately lined with a hint of iris. If paradise could be summed up in a single sip, this must surely be it.
Waxing lyrical aside – Rémy Martin’s Louis XIII has, over the years, firmly carved its place within the most luxurious of the world’s surroundings. Touching the four corners of the globe, Louis XIII represents the ultimate in sophistication.