With a brand new design and a newly appointed cellar master, Remy Martin XO is supercharged and raring to enter into a new age and cultivate a new generation of admirers and fans
At a recent private tasting in Singapore, Baptiste Loiseau, the fifth generation Cellar Master of the House of Remy Martin sat down with Ong Chin Huat to talk about newly refreshed look of Remy Martin’s iconic XO bottle and box and what the biggest challenge of his job is.
Q. Tell me about Remy Martin XO’s newly redesigned bottle and packaging?
A. With Remy Martin XO’s long history and rich heritage, the newly refreshed design of the XO bottle and packaging is a sort of evolution. We didn’t change the shape of the bottle because it is iconic and our customers have become accustomed to it but we made small and subtle changes to the base of the bottle and the stopper, giving the bottle more status. The gold label at the centre makes the bottle look more intense and the waves which radiate from the centre looks like rays of light shining out from the heart of the Cognac region to the rest of the world. The box is also darker but the blend of the XO stays the same though. But overall, the new packaging gives the impression that there is something very precious inside which originates from the heart of Cognac.
Q. As a cellar master, what does your job entail?
A. As a cellar master, you have to be sure there is consistency year after year. Each year, the harvests of grapes are different as is the distillation and the eau-de-vie and my main responsibility is to consider the diversity each year yet preserve the consistency as well as to create and innovate.
It’s also my role as cellar master is to take all this passion, devotion and respect and pay tribute to all their effort and reveal this eau-de-vie to the rest of the world.
Q. What sets Remy Martin XO apart from the rest?
A. Remy Martin is the specialist of Fine Champagne cognac and this is what makes our XO so special. sets the House of Remy Martin apart. In the Cognac region, we select the best grapes from our winegrowers’ terroirs. (Soil, climate & winegrowers) From there we go through the distillation process where the wine is heated twice in a dual distillation process. The final distillate will then be presented to me and a tasting committee to select the finest samples. After this crucial tasting session, I select all these wonderful concentration of aromas from the chosen eau-de-vie and put them in oak casks for aging in out cellars and only when its ready will I decide to make the final blend which will be bottled and shipped to the rest of the world to be appreciated.
Q. At 34 years old, you are the youngest Cellar Master in the history of Remy Martin. Tell us about how you started on this journey.
A. I was born and raised in Cognac and when I was 18 years old I told my mum that I wanted to be a winemaker and she was shocked! I moved to Paris to study biology and research but I was spending most of my time in a lab and that wasn’t what I wanted as I like meeting and interacting with people. Later I spent some time in the Champagne and Burgundy region where I met various winegrowers and that’s when I decided to specialise and become an agronomist. In 2007 I decided to return to my roots and that’s when I joined the House of Remy Martin.
Q. What is the biggest challenge of being a cellar master?
A. Without a doubt, it’s to maintain the consistency of the product. Every year is different, just like wine industry and I have to maintain the style of Remy Martin despite these changes. Someone who enjoys drinking Remy Martin XO 5 years ago must have the same impression and that’s my biggest challenge.
Q. How do you maintain the consistency?
A. By blending and based on my memory and the training I have had. Being curious and having an open mind also helps. I have a team of people who help me with the selection of the eau-de-vie. In the blind tasting there are several samples and we all share our impression after the tasting. We do this from November to March and we taste over 1000 different types of eau-de-vie. I will only be happy when the recipe I have yields the same result as the one I did the year before. Every year I have to reformulate the recipe to maintain the consistency. We are dealing with time but we are not in a hurry.
Q. How do you personally like to enjoy Remy Martin XO?
A. I enjoy Remy Martin on the rocks with a big ice cube as an apéritif and neat as a digestif.
Q. What is your definition of the Remy Martin XO house style?
A. Elegance, length and quality.