Courvoisier

Founded in 1828 in Jarnac by Felix Courvoisier and JulesGallois and today is one of the top four selling Cognacs in the world.

So just how did they get there?

Although Courvoisier is a Cognac today, it originally started out life as a wine produced in the suburbs of Paris by Emmanuel Courvoisier and Louis Gallois,whose sons actually made the move to Jarnac.

They had already built up quite a reputation in Paris, helped by having the support of Napoleon behind them. The emperor visited the producers in 1811 and later took several barrels of the stuff with him during his exile on the island of St Helena.

From this, the drink became know as “The Cognac of Napoleon” and his son later bestowed the title “Official Supplier to the Imperial Court” on the company.

But aside from the support of a tyrannical warmonger, the producers were quite successful themselves.

They moved in 1828 because they believed this was what their customers wanted and they sought to improve Cognac, theirs in particular.

This proved to be a wise choice and by the 1840s Felix and Jules were able to build a luxurious and expensive Château on the banks of the river Charente.

They based their headquarters in this elegant building and that is where they remain today.

In the meantime, Felix passed away in 1866 without a direct heir and left his shares and control of the company to his nephews, the Curlier Brothers.

The brothers had lived in Jarnac their entire lives and were well versed in the Cognac business.

They developed the brand and focussed on exporting to the UK, where Cognac was a big favourite.

Their success continued throughout the 19th century, with Napoleon III’s third praise coming in 1869, and a stash of 216 bottles of Courvoisier Cognac being found in Charles Dickens’ collection of alcohol when he died.

This was largest amount he had of any bottle and each was initialled with F. Courvoisier, showing his personal admiration for the brand.

Then in 1889 Courvoisier were asked to be part of the opening celebrations for the Eiffel Tower. This was a wonderful accolade and the brand was later given the Medaille d’Or, an international prize of great acclaim.

The company continued on and were very successful. In 1909 they were bought over by the Simon family of England, who had been in the wine and spirits industry for generations.

The Simons saw the great potential in Courvoisier and took the brand to global success.

They re-marketed it with a silhouette of napoleon in the background, to highlight the quality and famous connection. This became an iconic advert in the spirits industry.

When war struck in the 1940s, managing director George Simon was forced to leave France. The Château was taken over by the Germans, who used it as a casino.

Simon entrusted Courvoisier to George Hubert and Christian Braastad and eventually even sold it to them in the hope that it would not be taken over by the Germans.

This was on the promise that it would be sold back to him, which it was in 1945.

From then on the brand has gone from strength to strength.

Over the decades they have experimented with new releases such as Courvoisier Gala and were the first Brandy to advertise on TV.

They are now the only Cognac producers to ever have received the “Prestige de la France”, one of the highest awards in France.

Today they are one of the biggest selling Cognac brands worldwide and have opened the JarnacChâteau as a museum.

With plenty more innovative products coming from Courvoisier, the future looks even brighter than their past.

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