Courvoisier: A Taste of Elegance
The name Courvoisier is synonymous with elegance and refinement. It is one of the greatest cognac houses of the world, with accolades from everyone from professional brandy tasters to rappers. Stevie Nicks has been quoted as saying she even uses Courvoisier to prepare for concerts.
The Birth of a Legendary Brandy
The French Revolution had left behind a great deal of damage, and the country of France was in chaos. Into this chaos stepped Napoleon Bonaparte, who crowned himself the first Emperor of France. It was in these days that Emmanuel Courvoisier began a company to produce wine and spirits in the town of Bercy, a bit north of the river Seine, just outside Paris. His partner in this venture was Louis Gallois, the mayor of Bercy.
Bercy was close to the river, which meant it would be easy to float their goods to and from Paris. It also was already known for its wines. And since it was not inside the city walls of Paris, the pair would not have to pay taxes, either. It seemed like the perfect place.
Gallois and Courvoisier quickly grew a reputation for making very fine brandy. So fine, in fact, that Emperor Napoleon himself came to Bercy. After this, he began to ration cognac to his troops during the war, perhaps inspired by the brandy he tasted at the Bercy warehouses. According to legend, Napoleon was allowed one item of luxury to take with him into exile – he chose casks of cognac, like the cognac he had once sampled in the village of Bercy when he was Emperor of France.
It was the sons of the founders, Felix Courvoisier and Jules Gallois, who moved the company headquarters to the Cognac region where it remains to this day. The two heirs to the brandy empire established the name Courvoisier as their brand and made that name into a name known across France. It made them both wealthy men. With their money, they built the chateau which is the present heart of Courvoisier.
A Renowned Brand
Felix Courvoisier had no sons to take his company, so he granted it to his two nephews, who took control in 1866. These nephews, the Culier brothers, knew the business well. They’d grown up in the Cognac region, and established ties with the United Kingdom, where the people had a great love for fine brandy. The Courvoisier brand spread from there to royal courts across the continent. Denmark, Sweden, England, and of course, the court of Napoleon III in France, all clamored for casks of Courvoisier. The brand was eventually the official supplier to the Imperial French Court.
Early in the 20th century, the Simon family, of English extraction, took control of the company. They wanted to take Courvoisier out of Europe and around the world. It was the Simons who established the Napoleon silhouette as the iconic symbol of the Courvoisier brand. The Simons were forced to sell the Courvoisier name to a pair of Frenchmen during World War II so the Germans would not take it, in the hope of getting it back after the war. True to their word, these Frenchmen did indeed place Courvoisier back into the hands of the Simons once the war was over.
The Scent of Elegance
To commemorate their long history, Courvoisier commissioned the creation of a fragrance in 2006, collaborating with the Kraft Company, which had produced a number of successful fragrance brands, already. The result was L’Edition Imperiale, named after one of the great brandies produced by the company. It was a fragrance for young men of ambition.
Courvoisier wanted a fragrance that embodied the quality of their cognac and the history of their brand. The scent itself recalls the time when Napoleon was Emperor of France, when pride, honor, and chivalry were the guiding force for life. This scent brings that feeling into a modern context, while also creating a sense of nostalgia. The bottle is capped with a silver plume, much like the one famously worn by Napoleon himself.
The scent itself is warm and comfortable, smooth like the finest brandy. It opens with cardamom, tagette, mandarin, and coriander. The heart is smoked tea, violet, calla lily, and cedar wood, with a base of fir balsam, warm amber, vetiver, and a touch of leather.
Past, Present, and Future
The Courvoisier scent, L’Edition Imperiale, was like a bridge linking the past – the days of Napoleon – to the powerful and ambitious men of the present day. The company itself is like that, standing on the foundation of centuries of tradition while still able to move forward to speak to a new generation.
Courvoisier was one of the first brands to enter the world of social media. They drew together a network of entrepreneurs and other forward thinkers to recognize them as they’ve always done. The Courvoisier Future 500 goes far beyond the production of fine cognac. It brings together the future of art, cuisine, science, and business for the good of all.