When Jean Martell, the founder or the cognac house, died in 1753, Gatebourse, the first site of Martell production had already become the center of an aspiring business and a prosperous future. Jean’s two sons Jean and Frédéric would continue what their father had begun. In the later half of the century, they would be exporting 200.000 liters of cognac to Britain. In the following century, around 1842, Martell started targeting the Chinese market and opened up export activities to the Far East from then on. The introduction of Martell Cordon Bleu in 1912 had a huge impact on the company’s success. It has since become one of the most loved cognacs worldwide.
Martell still owns its family estate, which is situated in Cherves Richemont in the heart of the Borderies and has been turned into a guesthouse. The origins of the Chateau date back to the 16th century. In the 1930s, out of a rather strange wish to please his wife from Normandy, Maurice Firino-Martell changed the architecture of the Chateau to what it is today: with a typical Normandy-style façade.
In 2001, Martell & Co joined Pernod Ricard, who had just taken over a large part of the spirits company Seagram. Later on, in 2005, Pernod Ricard acquired over half of d’Allied Domecq and finally the champagne labels Mumm and Perrier-Jouet joined as well, turning the group into: Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouet. Like many similar brands, Martell needs to place itself in line with the luxury labels. The company concentrates on its top-of-the-line products such as Martell XO or Martell Création Grand Extra 2007. These products were introduced to the market with large campaigns, resulting in a boom of the premium products. Its most important markets are China, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, USA, Britain, Russia and Mexico. The annual volume in terms of sales has been estimated to lie around 15 million litres, with a growing tendency.
Martell’s Cellar Master Benoit Fil continues to treasure the company’s secret of blending in the tradition of handing down the expertise from generation to generation. The most precious eaux-de-vie, some dating back to 1830, are stored in a cellar called “Paradis”, which has a secret location in the cellars of Jean Martell.
News, Products, Anecdotes and Old Labels
Famous fashion photographers Paolo Roversi and Miles Aldrige have shot Martell’s Cordon Bleu campaigns. Like many companies nowadays, Martell is engaging in supporting the arts by handing our generous prizes to living artists. The essence of the prize lies in the origins of Jean Martell’s spirit: to be independent and inspired. Martell Création Grand Extra was launched in 2007, its beautiful bottle was designed by the sculptor Serge Mansau.
Martell achieves almost 100% of its sales through export. Only a small fraction gets consumed in France.
Martell published a book called “L’Or & l’Art”, which writes the history of the exquisite bottle L’Or de Jean Martell, drawing a link to the arts and crafts surrounding gold.
On a visit to Martell, one can experience the historical cognac production from distillation to the bottling of the final spirit. Then one can visit the private home of Jean Martell, which lies on the boards of the Charente river.
Opening hours from June to September: Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm
Opening hours from October to May: Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 11am and 2.30pm to 5pm, and Friday from 9.30am to 11am (except on public holidays)