It's not unusual to see a Rolls Royce pull into the drive of the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. But the passenger of a creamy-colored Rolls Royce Ghost limo that arrived at the hotel on Thursday afternoon wasn't a celebrity, dignitary or sheik; it was a bottle of Cognac.
Marketers of Louis XIII Rare Cask 42,6 (the number a reference to its 42.6% alcohol content, slightly higher than the 40% of the original Louis XIII) had a decanter delivered to the hotel by Yves de Launay, Rémy Cointreau's USA vice president of prestige brands, who arrived in the same car. The custom gold color of the Rolls matched the 22-carat rose gold neck of the Rare Cask 42,6 decanter -- much the way the silver of my Honda Accord almost exactly matches the color of a Coors Light can.
The Baccarat Cristallerie-designed bottle, only 738 of which were produced, will reside at the hotel's Windows Lounge, where a pour will start at $1,000 for one-half-ounce. The opaque black crystal bottles will retail for $22,000 each.
Why does it cost so much?(!) Like all Rémy Martin, Rare Cask 42,6 is made with grapes from the Grande Champagne vineyards of western France's Cognac region, considered to produce the best eaux de vie (or brandies), which are blended and aged in oak barrels to make Cognac. And like most Cognac houses, Rémy Martin has barrels of the stuff in its cellars dating back to the 19th century, to be blended by a maitre de chai, or master taster, and sold for lots of money.
All Louis XIII de Rémy Martin is a blend of 1,200 eaux de vie between 40 and 100 years old, aged in oak barrels that are several hundred years old; it costs about $2,400 a bottle at BevMo. A good ol' Rémy Martin XO aged at least 22 years costs $145. (There's even a market for empty Louis XIII bottles on EBay. And when an earthquake destroys a bottle of Louis XIII, it makes the news.)
A few years ago Rémy Martin released Louis XIII Rare Cask 43,8 (with, you guessed it, 43.8% alcohol) for about $15,000 a bottle, the first of the Louis XIII Rare Cask series -- from "supremely rare" barrels that cellar master Pierrette Trichet discovered only recently (apparently it's not uncommon for Cognac houses to lose track of decades-old casks, go figure).
But why the several-thousand-dollar price difference between the last super-exclusive, packaged-for-mark-up release of Louis XIII and the newest Rare Cask? The latest tastes that much better?
According to Trichet, via the Rémy Martin website, "a Rare Cask is blessed with flavors that are all its own. Alongside those autumn aromas [of dried fruit and nuts], Rare Cask 42,6 declares its distinction with notes of plum and date, mingling with flavors of gingerbread and prune stone, punctuated by a final touch of tobacco leaf."