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Interview: LOUIS XIII Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau

A young cognac blender shares a once-in-a-lifetime liquid

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

The house of LOUIS XIII cognac traces its heritage and provenance back to the early 1700s in the Cognac region of France. Since then, the brand has meticulously cultivated and released some of the world’s most lauded cognacs. Recently, we joined the maison’s cellar master, Baptiste Loiseau, for the launch of their latest incredibly rare expression, RARE CASK 42.1. Drawn from one special cask, the liquid’s selection as a single limited release was 10 years in the making—and orchestrated by their youngest master blender to date. Loiseau, only 34 years old, sat down to tell us the story behind the world class elixir. 

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

What has been transpiring over the last 10 years?

I took the position as the cellar master almost 10 years ago, in 2014. For me, this is really the first time that I have the privilege to present something that is much more personal in its approach. The two first RARE CASKs had been selected and revealed by the previous cellar master. And so for me, this is the very first time that I can present something that’s really so rare from the cellar. It is only coming from one cask, and it is showing facets that I’ve decided, guided by my intuition, to reveal.

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

Some of the ideas behind it, and skills, are passed on from the previous cellar masters. How did you make this one distinctly yours? Because you’re going to have to pass this on to the next generation. 

In fact, it’s a blend that has been done by a previous cellar master. My choice was really to reveal this and not to blend it with others. The audacity is really to detect the potential of aging and to be sure that at one point it has reached the perfect point of balance that needs to be highlighted on its own. it’s much more a choice guided by the emotion I had when I discovered the liquid inside. And I know that nobody will be able, even myself, to reproduce it. It’s really something that is coming from one cask and that’s it.

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

Can you tell us a little about the cask and the environment that it’s been in for the last 10 years?

The RARE CASKs, they are really the oldest casks that we have in our cellars and these are more than one century old and they are stored in different places. But for this one, it was really stored in a special cellar in a small village in a domain that is part of the family estate for the house. The link with the generations of cellar masters and also the generations of the family-owners of the house is really the footprint that we have encapsulated here.

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

What makes this such a unique expression compared to some of the other ones released by the house?

It has some singularities that make it different from the others. The previous one was the RARE CASK 46.6, it was much more fruity in terms of density of the foods and with lots of aromas of autumn—the season when you have plum and stone fruit here in New York.

I really have been blown away by the fact that 42.1 is much more floral. You have lots of flower notes like dry rose and lilac. It really touched me because my childhood was spent with my grandfather, a horticulturist, growing flowers and vegetables. It reminded me of all the memories I had in the garden, which were much more driven by flowers than food. That’s the power of the tasting. When you taste something from one cask that takes you back to your hidden memories more than 30 years ago, you’ve found something that leads you to choose this.

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

Can you tell us a little bit about the decanter and what makes it so unique?

We will celebrate the 150th anniversary next year. From the very beginning we decided to have the same shape for the decanter, that is historic to the maison, but from black crystal, which is much more difficult to achieve because the darkness is really difficult to obtain. For us, it’s really the footprint of time and also, a symbol of something that has been hidden in our cellars in the darkness.

What was something that you found surprising during this experience?

What we are facing now with climate change and the fact that the aromas we have in the fields, in the grapes, and in the wine, are with a different balance of sugar, acidity, et cetera. We are facing more challenges and now with my team, we are trying to find a solution for the next generation to keep it all consistent. We are all aligned in the fact that we have to find a solution to adapt to the conditions we’re facing. That’s the big challenge we are facing, but I’m really proud of what the team is doing and I’m sure that we’ll find a solution to adapt to these conditions.

Courtesy of LOUIS XIII

What are you thinking about the next 10 years?

We will go on with consistency and demanding the quality for the next generation. I have to law down a path because of all the grapes that I’m selecting now with my team, I won’t be the one who will make the final blend. The legacy will no only be a key in the making for the next 10 years, but decades and centuries.

Those interested in trying this rare expression can do so at NHYC’s Baccarat Hotel, The Faena in Miami, Delilah in Las Vegas and the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles until the decanters reach their final pour. 

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