Latest posts by Melody Ng (see all)
- Discovering the human touch behind Pandora - December 5, 2014
- Come on in, grab a drink and make yourself at home - November 10, 2014
- Fine drinks, good food, great company – and a trip down memory lane - November 18, 2013
Last Wednesday I took a taxi from my home in Singapore and, within a half hour, I was transported to Cognac, France, surrounded by aged oak barrels and the intense aromas of some of the finest cognacs from the House of Rémy Martin.
No, this isn’t the work of some revolutionary new teleportation device (although I am still holding out hope for that!) – it is the Asian debut of Rémy Martin’s The Heart of Cognac Experience, which has arrived in Singapore after a highly successful tour in US, Canada and Russia. The interactive master class, led by a Rémy Martin Ambassador, is designed to give consumers a chance to experience the art of crafting cognacs, from blending to tasting.
The inaugural ‘flight’ included representatives from Rémy Cointreau, DFS Singapore, Changi Airport Group, members of the media and even a special appearance by King Power Managing Director Travel Retail & Duty Free Sunil Tuli. Upon take-off we were welcomed by Rémy Martin CEO Patrick Piana, a long-standing advocate of making Rémy Martin relevant for new generations of consumers, whose taste for upmarket cognacs continues to grow.
“The Asian consumer is young, discerning and sophisticated. We are encouraged by the keen interest from this region, especially in China and Southeast Asia which have been key drivers of our growth,” Piana noted. The success of the recent launch and expansion of Rémy Martin Club in Southeast Asia is one of the many examples showcasing the House’s vitality, he added.
We were then escorted into the Blending Room, where we were given a crash course on cognac production and cognac tasting. Bottles of eaux-de-vie line up the walls of the room in order of age, from lightest to darkest, and we are told that Fine Champagne eaux-de-vie have the greatest ageing potential and ensure a truly unique aromatic intensity. Rémy Martin exclusively produces Fine Champagne cognacs with grapes from the two most sought after growing areas in the Cognac region, Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne crus, with a minimum of 50% Grande Champagne.
The classroom setting was a nice throwback to school days, with the brand ambassador going around the room asking, “What do you smell?” and receiving thoughtful answers such as “apricot”, “butterscotch” and “vanilla”, while the best I could muster was “I think there are grapes in there…” By the end of the lesson, however, I have enough know-how to at least pretend I know what I’m doing during future cognac tastings.
Next, we were invited to play cellar master with the task of recreating the Rémy Martin V.S.O.P by blending different eaux-de-vie: 4 years, 8 years, and 14 years. I was lucky enough to be seated next to Patrick Piana, who offered some much-needed tips (very much-needed) for achieving the perfect blend. The task seems to be equal parts science (with the precise measurements and proportions) and equal parts natural instinct (a good nose and palate which, as already established, I am severely lacking). The moment of truth: Against all odds, Piana said I was “on the right track” and “very close”, and even joked that I should apply to be their next Cellar Master. Madame Pierrette Trichet will soon be seeing some tough competition…
After the blending experiment, we were led to a dark room recreated to look like an underground cellar, with barrels stacked up against the walls. Here we got to taste several products from the Rémy Martin portfolio, and even got to try Rémy Martin XO Excellence extracted straight out of a 350-litre Limousin oak cask flown all the way in from the House’s distillery in France – what a treat.
And that is exactly what The Heart Cognac Experience was designed to be: a real feast for the senses. Thanks to Rémy Martin, cognac lovers in Singapore don’t have to fly all the way to the wine-growing region of France to learn the secrets of crafting Rémy Martin Fine Champagne cognacs; they can simply head to Mohamed Sultan Road downtown (we heard through the grapevine that a similar activation is being planned for travel retail, so watch this space). Upon the event’s conclusion, hundreds of cognac fans would have been transported to Cognac and back – all without the need for a passport.