Just landed a very special new Cognac from Courvoisier inspired by the house’s ties with Europe’s royal families. It’s Courvoisier XO Royal.
Courvoisier Cognac owes its early success to royal, or rather imperial, connections. The house was founded in Jarnac in 1809 by Emmanuel Courvoisier but it was when Napoleon visited in 1811 that the firm found fame. The Emperor clearly liked what he tasted and decreed that his men should have a ration of Courvoisier.
Even when Napoleon was defeated in 1815, the connection continued as British troops who had seized his possessions referred to Courvoisier as Cognac Napoleon. The name stuck. Later Napoleons’ nephew Louis Napoleon would seize power in 1852 and declare himself Napoleon III. In 1869, he awarded Courvoiser the family coat of arms – which it still displays on its bottles. The new emperor didn’t last that long, however, a defeated by the Prussians in 1870, he fled to England and died in 1873.
Introducing Courvoisier XO Royal
Courvoisier also has links with some rather more enduring dynasties such as the English, Swedish, and Danish royal families. Edward VII even commissioned his own blend which is partly the inspiration for Courvoisier XO Royal. Chief blender Patrice Pinet explained:
“It is a privilege to pay homage to Maison Courvoisier’s historic recipe crafted centuries ago for distinguished royalty. Courvoisier XO Royal marries exceptionally rare eaux-de-vie to create a full-bodied blend that balances heritage, craftsmanship, tradition, and innovation. The long and powerful finish is symbolic of the regal cognac chosen by kings and queens, and it is my honour to introduce this exceptionally special Cognac.”
XO Royal contains spirits up to 30 years old from the vineyards of Grand Champagne and Fins Bois de Jarnac. Courvoisier distills wines from Grand Champagne on the lees, dead yeast cells, resulting in more body but distills without them for wines from Fins Bois to produce a fresher, more fruity eau-de-vie. As an XO, the minimum age component allowed is 10 years old but in practice the spirits in here will be much older. It’s a fabulously decadent Cognac that sits somewhere near the top of the Courvoisier range.
Pass the Courvoisier
From those early beginnings in Jarnac, Courvoisier has become one of the largest and most-lauded producers in Cognac. One of the big four, the others being Remy Martin, Martell and Hennessy, it exports around 18 million bottles per year. And like its rivals, it is now owned by a multinational, Beam Suntory.
For those who don’t want to splash out quite so much there’s the excellent regular XO or the VS and VSOP which are superb in cocktails like the Brandy Sour or the Harvard. But it’s not all traditional over at Courvoisier, the house also produces the Courvoisier Mizunara using Japanese oak casks from its parent company. I wonder what Napoleon would think.
Courvoisier XO Royal is available from Master of Malt.
Tasting Note from Courvoisier
A decadent truffle aroma followed by a bouquet of opulent summer blossoms. Very rich and full-bodied, with a deep, smooth, and complex flavour laden with hazelnuts, honey, and cinnamon notes that linger into a long and powerful aftertaste.