An Illustrated History of Louis XIII, The World's Most Exclusive Cognac

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Louis XIII, the world's most exclusive and coveted cognac, celebrates its 146th anniversary this year. In honor of the occasion we highly recommend holding a private tasting—dégustation to be proper—at home to savor the elixir from the famed house of Rémy Martin. And the perfect accompaniment to the liquid gold is a new book being published by ACC Art Books later this month, Louis XIII Cognac: The Thesaurus.

Featuring a preface by Louis XIII devotee John Malkovich, the suitably luxurious and lavishly photographed book, which lists at $175, offers a rich illustrated history of the spirit which has captivated everyone from kings to connoisseurs for more than a century—including the likes of Malkovich and Pharell Williams who have both collaborated with the brand on creative endeavors honoring its legacy.

Named as a tribute to King Louis XIII of France, the reigning monarch when the Rémy Martin family first settled in the Cognac region, Louis XIII is a blend of up to 1,200 individual eaux-de-vie derived from prestigious Grande Champagne vineyards, each ranging from at least 50 years to 100 years in age, and comes presented in a Baccarat crystal decanter.

According to the book, legend has it that the origin of decanter's design is a flask found on the site of the Battle of Jarnac (1569), near Rémy Martin's headquarters, retrieved from the soil almost three centuries later. First exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, creating each decanter requires the work of 11 skilled craftsmen. 

Baptiste Loiseau (above), who has served as the Louis XIII cellar master since 2014, notes that the legendary cognac is "a wave of emotions.... Opulence and vivacity, density and lightness, power and vibrancy, Louis XIII is made of aromatic peaks and troughs that follow and echo one another. These sensations mature into emotions; they awaken unknown memories, suppressed experiences."

The precious liquid balances notes of myrrh, honey, dried roses, plum, honeysuckle, cigar boxes, leather, figs and passion fruit in "an unmatched, ambrosial blend," as Rémy Martin puts it. Loiseau declares that "the aromatic persistence of Louis XIII is a miracle of dizzying proportions. The glass is empty but the body and spirit of Louis XIII are still there... palpable and the stuff of dreams, at one and the same time."

The book is no substitute for actually sampling the coveted cognac it pays homage to, but it's as close as you can get without actually imbibing—a  captivating and enticing evocation of all things Louis XII, which is to say one of the very finest spirits in the world.