A Cognac Forged in History

Cognac casks stacked that play a part in Courvoisier history.
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Our Story

Welcome to Maison Courvoisier, a cognac house like no other. Built by four families and spanning three cultural cities, the history of Maison Courvoisier stands as a testament to the spirit of Jarnac and the bright lights and sophistication of Paris and London. Courvoisier is an invitation to celebrate who we are, what we stand for and where we come from. This is our story.

Part of the Courvoisier history, image of the town in 1809.
View of the House of Courvoisier, or Maison Courvoisier, in 1828 - part of cognac history.
Historical bottle label from Courvoisier french cognac.
Historical collage of the Eiffel Tower being built and the architect who constructed it.
View of the back of a truck with a Courvoisier label reading "Courvoisier, the Brandy of Napoleon, Cognac" in 1909, part of Courvoisier history.
Collage of vintage photographs from Courvoisier history.
Collage of Courvoisier cognac labels set aside pictures from 1940 of the leadership, part of cognac history.
Vintage bottle of Courvoisier VSOP cognac.
Prestige de la France award diploma.
Image of 'Prestige de la France' award winners being presented with their award by Jacques Chirac in 1983..
Bottle of L'Essence de Courvoisier cognac.
View of the various awards Courvoisier won through its rich history.
1796
1828
1866
1889
1909
1936
1940
1951
1983
2000
2009
2021

The Moments That Made Us

Louis Gallois set up a wine and spirits company, Gallois Cellars, on the outskirts of Paris with his original business partner Emmanuel Courvoisier. Gallois had been developing contacts for many years, particularly with the upper échelons of Napoléon’s imperial army. These relationships proved successful many years later when Napoléon Bonaparte took the throne in 1804.

The Moments That Made Us

The sons of Emmanuel Courvoisier and Louis Gallois, Félix and Jules respectively, took over the company.  In addition to their headquarters in Bercy, the partners settled a new company in the town of Jarnac. This new House, located in the heart of the Cognac region in France, was created to  focus solely on cognac. 

The Moments That Made Us

When Felix died without a male heir in 1866, he left the management of the business to two of his nephews, the Curlier brothers. The two negotiated good trade relations with the UK, where cognac was highly prized, and so made inroads onto the world’s stage, eventually gracing the tables of the Royal Courts of Denmark, England and Sweden in the 20th century.

The Moments That Made Us

When the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris during the World's Fair in 1889, it was an event of global significance. There
was much for Courvoisier to relish in during these events such as winning the ultimate international prize of its day, the Medaille d'Or. However, perhaps even more significant for the brand was the selection of Courvoisier to take a leading role in the dinner that marked the opening of the Eiffel Tower.

This was the social event to be at, to be seen at, and to take part in the toast by drinking Courvoisier, the official cognac chosen for this glittering occasion. 

The Moments That Made Us

The Simon family from England assumed leadership of Courvoisier in 1909. They had been in the wine and spirits business in the UK for generations and saw its potential as a true global brand. The first thing they did was to build on our century-long reputation as one of the finest quality cognacs in the world by establishing the recognizable and iconic Napoléon silhouette.

Louis Renard developed the collection of Fins Bois that later exemplified the signature Courvoisier style of sophistication and refinement. Highly reputed as “the nose,” Renard is celebrated as the visionary blender who introduced the first core collection for the house: Napoleon (1909), VSOP (1910) and VS (1930s).

1909 was also the year when the registered Cognac production areas, or the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) were delineated.

The Moments That Made Us

What is cognac?

In 1936, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) outlined the requirements for brandy to be considered "Cognac" which state: 1) The product must originate in the Cognac Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). 2) The grapes used to make Cognac must come from one of the six designated growing areas or "crus" located in the Cognac region. 3) Cognac must also  be made from grapes blended from 90% eau de vie from Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard grapes with up to 10% Folignan, Jurancon blanc, Blanc Rame, Montils or Semillon grapes.

If a producer located in the Cognac AOC follows all BNIC standards, including meeting production, distillation and aging requirements, their brandy can officially be called “Cognac”.

The Moments That Made Us

At the height of the war, while Château Courvoisier was occupied by German officers, George Simon fled France for the UK. However, he continued to manage Courvoisier from England and, in order to ensure it didn’t fall into the wrong hands, 'sold' the business to Georges Hubert with the support of Christian Braastad with the promise they would give it back after the war. And, in 1945, the two made good on their promise and returned the Château to Simon.

The Moments That Made Us

Our Joséphine bottle allowed Courvoisier to be recognised on bars, shelves and tables simply by the distinctive bottle shape. The bottle was named Joséphine because it drew inspiration for its look from the well-rounded shape of Napoléon Bonaparte's first wife, reinforcing the historic association of Courvoisier and Napoléon.

The Moments That Made Us

We were honored with the 'Prestige de la France', the highest accolade for quality in France, and remain the only cognac house to hold such an award. This was presented by Jacques Chirac, who was mayor of Paris at the time but would later become President of France.

The Moments That Made Us

Our fifth Chief Blender, Jean-Marc Olivier, celebrated the turn of the Millennium by creating a fusion of historic and peerless vintages spanning generations of tradition. L'Esprit contains no cognacs younger than 1930, with many significantly older, from our famous Paradis cellar where we stock cognacs dating back to when  Napoléon came to power after the French Revolution. As befits a cognac of such rarity, we housed it in hand cut, individually numbered Lalique® crystal decanters.

The Moments That Made Us

The last blend to be developed and launched by our fifth Chief Blender, Jean-Marc Olivier in conjunction with our sixth Chief Blender Patrice Pinet, L'Essence de Courvoisier is a sublime harmony of over 100 rare eaux-de-vie from the last 100 years, each championed as the most innovative of their time.

The Moments That Made Us

Courvoisier was awarded the Prestige de la France Award for the second time in its history.

A Word About Our Heritage

Time is always connected to life, which is at the very heart of Courvoisier’s thinking.

Henri Prodeaux

Late 19thC-1909

In the late 19th century, Henri Prodeaux began managing the stocks teams then became the first de facto chief blender. Although, at the time, the process of creating eau-de-vie was a collective endeavor.  Varieties of eau-de-vie were limited and choices concentrated around cognacs coming from the Jarnac region: Grande Champagne and Fins Bois de Jarnac.

Group image with a highlight on Henri Prodeaux.

Louis Renard

1909-1938

As the second Chief Blender, Louis Renard developed the collection of Fins Bois, Grande and Petite Champagne that became the standard by which the signature Courvoisier style was measured. Highly reputed as the "Nose," Renard is celebrated as a visionary who introduced the first core collection: Napoléon (1909), VSOP (1910) and VS (1930s).

Louis Renard sniffing Courvoisier cognac.

André Boufflet

1938-1974

André Boufflet began as maintenance staff but soon was named assistant to Chief Blender Louis Renard with whom he worked closely until his death. Boufflet took up the mantle of Chief Blender in 1938. He introduced the first mixable cognac blended to be a long drink that appealed to both men and women alike called, the "Gala Club," in the late 1930's.

Andre Boufflet sniffing Courvoisier cognac to test for freshness.

Daniel Dumon

1974-1986

To appeal to increasing demand in an emerging Asian market, Daniel Dumon sought to develop a higher quality blend of cognac. From one of the Maison's partners, he purchased Grande and Petite Champagne, which added that je ne sais quoi needed to create Courvoisier XO in 1984, widely considered as one of the finest blends of cognac to date.

 

Daniel Dumon sitting in his office surrounded by various aspects of the cognac distilling process.

Jean-Marc Olivier

1986-2009

Jean-Marc Olivier improved the reputation of the Maison. He refined quality and consistency by introducing the “Barrel Quality Program;" he ensured sustainable stock by purchasing the trees from which the Maison would produce its barrels; and he improved the Maison’s portfolio by creating the jewels of Maison Courvoisier: Erte (‘88) and lnitiale Extra (‘88).

Jean-Marc Olivier comparing two glasses of cognac against each other for clarity and color.

Patrice Pinet

2009-2021

Beginning as a member of the tasting committee 30 years ago, Patrice Pinet was appointed Chief Blender in 2009. Balancing heritage and innovation, he created L’Essence in 2009 with Jean-Marc Olivier. Honoring tradition and looking toward the future are Pinet hallmarks, which are borne out by two of his blends: 12 and 21, which both bear his exquisite signature.

Patrice Pinet smelling the undertones of Courvoisier cognac for clarity.

Thibaut Hontanx

2022 - present

As the seventh Chief Blender of the Maison Courvoisier, Thibaut Hontanx brings deep knowledge of the distillation process, born from his global experience at distilleries from South Africa to Martinique. We are delighted to welcome him back to his first love the vineyard – where he will help us usher in a new era of exuberant cognacs.

Courvoisier chief blender inspecting cognac in a glass.
Historical image of Felix Courvoisier.
Historical image of the F. Courvoisier and Curliers Freres cognac labels.
Vintage photo of the Simons reviewing work.
In the modern era of Courvoisier history, the cognac brand is now global with a team of experts sniffing various Courvoisier cognacs for clarity and perfection.

The Eras

1828-1866: Félix Courvoisier and Jules Gallois, the sons of the original merchants, established a new business in Jarnac focusing solely on Cognac, allowing them to have greater control of the process. Félix Courvoisier established the House in 1828 and built Maison Courvoisier as its proud soul place in 1857.

Courvoisier and Gallois were inspired by the refined architectural style of Paris and constructed their new maison as a tribute to their family's Parisian roots and ancestry. Theirs would be a House rooted in Jarnac but imbued with the flair of Paris.

1866-1909: When Courvoisier died without an heir, he left the House to his two nephews, Félix and Jules Curlier. It was the Curlier brothers who cemented Maison Courvoisier's reputation when it was awarded the much sought-after title of Official Supplier of the House of the Emperor, by Napoléon III in 1869.

With offices in both Paris and London, the Curlier brothers ensured that the House was at the center of the blossoming Belle Epoque period, celebrating the inauguration of the Eiffel Tower and the opening of Moulin Rouge in 1889 among others.

1909-1964: The Simon family, who were originally Maison Courvoisier's distributors, assumed ownership of Courvoisier in 1909.lt was under the leadership of the Simon Family that Maison Courvoisier's reputation grew further. Courvoisier cognac graced the tables of the Royal Courts of Denmark, England and Sweden.

1964-2021: Courvoisier’s story is entwined in 200 years of world history from Napoléon to present day. In the mid-20th Century, Courvoisier expanded into new territories, which resulted in Canadian company, Hiram Walker, acquiring it in 1964. Official recognition followed in 1983 when Courvoisier was the first cognac to be awarded the Prestige de la France.

Two further shifts of ownership followed, in both the USA and Asia. And in 2014, Beam Suntory became the owners of Courvoisier, opening this House to the world as a truly global brand.

More to Explore

Craft

See how Courvoisier is dedicated to the Art of Making
Crafter removing a vial of Courvoisier from cognac barrels to inspect the cognac color.

Our Maison

See what defines our Maison Courvoisier style
Close up image of the House of Courvoisier

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