The French call cognac “eau de vie” because this brandy is certainly the life of any party. All Cognacs are brandies, but not all brandies are cognacs: first, it must be made from Ugni Blanc, Colombard, or Folle Blanche grapes grown in the Cognac region in the southwest of France. It has to be produced in the same area and must be distilled twice in copper Alembic stills. And
that distillate must be aged for a minimum of two years in charred oak barrels made from the trees of the nearby Limousin or Tronçais forests.
All this care results in a very versatile liquor that works well neat, as a long drink or mixed in a cocktail. But it also means that cognac deserves extra style when it comes to serving it to your guests. Traditionally, one drinks it from a brandy snifter but among connoisseurs, balloon or tulip glasses are said to better capture cognac’s fruity aroma.
The most elegant ritual associated with containing cognac is keeping it in a decanter. Unlike wine, liquor doesn’t need to be decanted to dispose of sediment or to “open it up,” but it does provide a prettier presentation.
Remy Martin produces one of the most prestigious of these spirits, Louis XIII cognac (it takes four generations of cellar workers and master blenders to create one just one decanter of this smooth, layered drink). The company is also known for its long collaboration with Baccarat crystal.
This year Louis XIII and Baccarat have “bigged up” this relationship with the launch of Le Salmanazar — a cognac served up in a one-of- a-kind, 15 kilogram crystal decanter. It took over 20 master glass blowers, crystal cutters and a master sculptor to create this nine litre bottle. And it comes housed in an elegant display chest featuring 8 crystal glasses (which come in their own dedicated case), a serving platter and a specially designed spear (a long syringe-like pipette used
And if you’ve got $535,000 handy, you still have to travel to the Louis XIII boutique in Beijing to buy it. If you aren’t in the market for that much cognac, visitors to the Beijing boutique can still learn about food pairings or view the complete collection of Louis XIII decanters, accessories and limited editions.