Martell

Martell is one of the oldest and most famous cognac houses in France. It was foundedby an Englishman in 1715 and has been producing some of the world's finest Cognacs for over 300 years. Martell is the oldest of the 'Big Four' Cognac houses. This list also includes Courvoisier, Hennessy and Rémy Martin.

The brand has become known as the epitome of luxury and has historically been enjoyed by Royalty, upper classes and celebrities. Its flagship Cognac - the Martell Cordon Bleu - is widely regarded as one of the finest examples for over a century.    

Two rows of mash tuns at Martell distillery
Martell distillery

style

Martell is known for its highly fragrant, aromatic and expressive spirit. Green fruit, delicate spices and floral notes are common. This style of eau-de-vie is particularly suited to lengthy maturation. With time the elegant notes develop and evolve to become darker and richer. Dried fruit, citrus peel, dark chocolate and savoury wood spice are all evident.    

Collection of various fruits
Collection of various flower heads
Chunks of dark chocolate
A round wooden disc

production

Martell uses a high percentage of grapes taken from the Borderies region of Cognac. This practice was established by Jean Martell, the distillery's founder, and is maintained today. They own approximately 160 hectares of vineyards in Borderies. Grapes are also taken from the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne regions where they own 45 and 38 hectares of vineyards respectively. The Ugni Blanc grape variety is grown in each region. These are made into a sharp and acidic white wine, which is then distilled twice via copper pot stills.

Martell is also known for its use of barrels made from Tronçais oak - a prized variety of oak used to cooper barrels for the finest Cognacs and Bordeaux wines.

Martell has been produced at the Gallienne distillery since 1992. This is one of the largest and most technologically advanced distilleries in Cognac. It also boasts the largest stills in the region. These are replicas of Jean Martell's original stills but four times larger.     


history

Martell was founded by an Englishman Jean Martell in 1715. He relocated to the Cognac region of France from his home of Jersey in the Channel Islands. After a period of trading local eaux-de-vie he established the now-famous Cognac house at Gâtebourse on the banks of the River Charente. Jean Martell was responsible for introducing two key practices that remain today - the high percentage use of grapes from Borderies and the use of Tronçais oak for barrels.     

Casks stacked on top of each other inside of Martell warehouse
Cask ageing in Martell warehouse

Martell also created the brand's first VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) in 1831. This product helped to put Martell on the map and rapidly grew the export market. Martell has always been at the forefront of product development. Notable releases include the legendary Cordon Bleu (created by Edouard Martell in 1912), VS Single Distillery (Very Special) in 2017 and Blue Swift - the first Martell to not be exclusively matured in Tronçais oak. It features a finishing period in ex-bourbon whiskey barrels from Kentucky, USA.

Martell was purchased by Seagram in 1987. This broke over 270 years of family ownership. The brand is now part of Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët, a subsidiary of Pernod Ricard. Pernod Ricard acquired some of Seagram's spirits brands in 2001.