It is 1968. Gold is no longer required to back the value of the US dollar; 2001: A Space Odyssey opens in Washington D.C.; 60 Minutes debuts on CBS; The Beatles release the White Album. In the midst of a busy year for news and popular culture, it was also a remarkable year for the grandest of the old cognac houses of France, Martell. In the oldest of its cellars, the keen senses of the cellar master detected something special in the eau-de-vie from the Grand Champagne region of Cognac. Unlike the big news stories of the year though, this one would stay out of the public eye until now.
Forty three years later, in 2011, Martell is debuting the first expression of its Millésimes Collection. The Millésimes 1968 is the result of that rare single eau-de-vie from 1968, carefully selected by Martell’s Cellar Master Benoit Fil from the Chais de la Coquille, the oldest cellar of the house, built in 1833.
Now, there is some confusion about the difference between eau-de-vie and brandy itself. Before we concern ourselves with the Millésimes, which of course has a proper definition, just like VSOP, XO and the other usual qualifiers, we have to be clear about exactly what eau-de-vie is. To put it simply, eau-de-vie refers to the liquid that emerges after a double distillation of white wine.
Exceptional Organoleptic Temperament
What we think of as finished brandy or cognac is the result of aging eau-de-vie in wood casks. So, in the case of the Millésimes 1968, the year refers to the vintage of 1968. That is to say, the eau-de-vie of that year in particular has been aged for more than 40 years - with even the eau-de-vie going into the barrels to account for part the “angel's share” (lost to the heavenly forces of evaporation) coming from the vintage year in question. No other eau-de-vie is introduced into what the casks. It is this purity that gives any Millésimes its specific properties.
The Martell Millesimes 1968 is being made available exclusively to travel retail from November 23, 2011 onwards exclusively at Martell Experience Boutiques at Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur International Airports. According to Martell’s official information, the Millesimes 1968 displays “exceptional organoleptic temperament and embodiment of the elegance, balance and complexity that characterize Martell style.”
The Grand Champagne area from which the eau-de-vie originated is noted for the strength and body of its eau-de-vie, characteristics that lend the liquid exceptional potential for aging. Given that the signature Martell style is derived from Borderies eau-de-vie, this makes the Millesimes 1968 even more of a standout.
An Immersive Experience
Visitors to the Martell Experience Boutiques will invited to immerse themselves in the Millesime 1968 experience, via the three key aromas of the Martell Millésimes 1968. A fine grain oak display lays out the art of producing the Millésimes 1968 alongside a Master Blender’s notebook – complete with handwritten notes. Speaking of which, Benoit Fil is not on hand at the boutiques but Martell has produced a video of him explaining the finer points of the exceptional character of the Millésimes 1968. Finally, the experience is capped off with a complimentary gift service with greeting cards available in-store.
“In response to the growing number of passengers travelling through International Asian airports we are dedicated to providing travel retail exclusives through product innovation and premiumization. The “Millésimes Collection” allows us to differentiate Martell within a competitive category and the Martell Experience Boutiques provide us with the perfect platform to do this,” said John O’Sullivan, Pernod Ricard Asia Duty Free Marketing Director.