For the third time in the brand’s history, Louis XIII has released its Rare Cask expression. With an estimated $50,000 price tag, it’s Louis XIII Cognac’s most coveted and expensive expression currently on the market. This particular Rare Cask is also the first such release in over ten years, and the first from Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau. Like its predecessors, this Rare Cask expression comes from a single tierçon, a large casks purpose-built for aging cognac. Though the house has in recent years commissioned new tierçons, all Rare Cask expressions so far have spent significant time in and were ultimately bottled from casks constructed prior to 1917.
The first two Rare Cask releases were curated by the brand’s previous cellar master, Pierrette Trichet, and bottled in 2004 and 2013, respectively. Loiseau was with the brand and present for the 2013 selection and bottling.
Drinkhacker recently had the opportunity to sit with Loiseau and sample Rare Cask 42.1 from one of a handful of bottles released in the American market. Loiseau said that when identifying these releases, cellar masters are tasked with finding “singular” expressions with profiles that stand apart from the brand’s other high-end releases and blends. He noted the 2023 release was identified through particularly floral and earthy characteristics he felt might get overlooked in a blend.
Rare Cask 42.1 is named for its abv and is bottled at 84.2 proof. The final bottle yield is 775, each being a 700ml black crystal decanter crafted by Baccarat. It is non-age stated; Loiseau explained only that the final blend of eaux-de-vie in the tierçon varied significantly in age.
Let’s dive in and see how it tastes!
On the nose, the spirit is powerfully floral and herbal: dried roses, lilac, lavender, and rosemary all hit with potency. Scents of figs and dates develop over time in the glass, though for the length of the experience, flowers dominate over fruit. Five to 10 minutes later, earthen notes make their presence known: wet rocks and cellar earth. Coupled with the increasing fruit characteristics, it’s reminiscent of Honeycrisp apple and gravel. Beyond 10 minutes, mushrooms and truffle oil become faintly detectable.
At the first first (even tiny) sip, the palate bursts with tropical fruit: guava, papaya, passionfruit, and a tarter-than-expected lychee. The individual flavors are all detectable on subsequent sips, but they vary in intensity; papaya is heavy on one, but lychee much more pronounced on the next. Those fruits transition to leather and tobacco on the midpalate, with more earthen notes including dried leaves and light oak.
Sweetness dissipates on the finish, leaving behind thyme and sage, along with bold wood tannins. It’s at once herbal and oaky, with small hints of lingering fruit left behind on the tongue.
I spent nearly 30 minutes sampling this spirit with Loiseau, though I could have easily taken an hour to pick apart more notes at all stages of the experience. The aromas and flavors teased even more complexity, which is only a bit disheartening given it’s highly unlikely I’ll taste this pour again. It’s remarkable.
A / $50,000 / louisxiii-cognac.com