Rémy Martin is one of the world’s oldest and best known cognac brands, with selections that range, at my local liquor store at least, from the $13 St. Remy French brandy to the $9000 Rémy Martin Louis XIII Time Collection: City of Lights – 1900. (I have tried one of these, but not both.)
Rémy Martin was founded in 1724 in the Cognac region of France by Paul-Emile Rémy Martin. He was born in 1695 near Rouillac in southwestern France, the son of a vine grower. At 19, he married the daughter of a local notary, and 10 years later, in 1724, he established a cognac trading house. On his death in 1773, the business passed to his grandson, also named Rémy, who was also the local tax collector. In time, his son inherited the business, which saw a four-fold increase in the region’s trade between 1810 and the early 1820s. In 1841, Paul-Emile-Rémy Martin (the family gave just about every male heir the same name, apparently) assumed control and oversaw even greater growth. He introduced the innovation of selling in bottles as well as the traditional casks. An early skilled marketer, he added a logo to the bottles and cases; a centaur after Sagittarius, Martin’s zodiac sign, and registered the firm’s first trademarks in 1874. Following him, as so often happens in dynastic families, the fifth-generation proprietor nearly bankrupted the operation.
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