Baptiste Loiseau, cellarmaster at Rémy Martin.

verre églomisé is a technique that refers to the process of applying a design and gilding to the rear face of glass to produce a reflective surface. The method owes its name to a French picture framer from the late 1700s, Jean-Baptiste Glomy, who used this process in glass mounts. 

In a recent collaboration with the House of Rémy Martin, Parisian gilding studio Atelier Thiery applied the technique to one of Rémy Martin’s best-known spirits, or eau-de-vie (‘water of life’) – XO. This distinguished collaboration between two eminent appellations has resulted in a limited edition gilded version of Rémy Martin’s XO, which features an 18-karat gilded gold verre églomisé label by Atelier Thiery right on the front of their famously radiant XO bottle.

“Rémy Martin XO is our signature Cognac, our icon,” says Baptiste Loiseau. As cellarmaster at Rémy Martin, Loiseau is tasked with guaranteeing the quality and consistency of the house eau-de-vie. 

“My job is more than just the ‘guardian at the temple door’ that people often imagine. As cellarmaster, you need to be curious and inventive. Above all you need to be a visionary; it’s your job to prepare the house’s future in the medium and long term, which requires time, constant work, and self-questioning,” he says. 

Unlike wine, with its inherent year-on-year vintage variation, a spirit or distillate is expected to be constant, consistent, stable, steady. Cognac is a particular style of brandy – which in turn is a spirit distilled from wine. 

Strictly speaking, the term ‘brandy’ applies to any grape-based spirit, however, there are ‘brandies’ made from other fruits, for example, Normandy’s calvados, which is made from apples. The English word is a corruption of the Dutch brandewijn, which is derived from the German gebranntwein, meaning ‘burnt wine’. Seems appropriate, given that brandy is a product of distillation. 

Rémy Martin’s XO is one of the most recognisable Cognacs in the world.

Distillation is a process that leverages the fundamental properties of physics and chemistry to transmute liquid to gas to liquid again.

The act reminds us that having less of something can make it more potent and concentrated. Distillation is focus. To distil requires intelligence and will. 

US writer – and whiskey fan – William Faulkner is credited with saying, “Civilisation begins with distillation.” And civilisation is born from our preference for a mindful investment of time, over time: that is, time taken to distil ideas from something diffuse and hard to grasp into something precise.

Hence, it’s not too much of a stretch to suggest that distillation is the ultimate expression of civilisation, and no one – at least that I know of – would accuse the French of being uncivilised, especially in the region of Cognac. 

The Cognac region covers two départements on the western side of France near the Bay of Biscay: inland Charente, and Charente-Maritime on the coast. Cognac is a small town close to the border between the two. 

Rémy Martin’s XO is one of the most recognisable Cognacs in the world.

“XO is the most opulent, rich and complex blend in the Rémy Martin range, which is derived from a masterful blend of up to 400 eau-de-vie,” says Loiseau. “It is the perfect combination of opulence of aromas and harmony of taste.

“The House of Rémy Martin is the only major Cognac house to have been founded by a winemaker almost 300 years ago. It is a house that has bet on the magic of time, in order for our eau-de-vie to have outstanding ageing qualities.

“There are six growing areas called crus, each with their own unique terroir and different soil characteristics,” he explains. “At Rémy Martin, our eau-de-vie comes exclusively from the Premier Cru; Grande Champagne, and Petite Champagne cru terroirs, which yield eau-de-vie with exceptional potential.”

Since 1948, the House of Rémy Martin has sourced their grapes from these two crus, where quality has always taken precedence over quantity. According to Loiseau, these crus are characterised by exceptionally chalky soils, which help to reflect light and thus ripen the grapes to, in his words, “absolute perfection”.

When perfection is the standard-bearer in a house like Rémy Martin, good does become the enemy. This gilded collaboration between two exceptional artisans, embodied by the iconic XO decanter, is a tangible testament to their shared generational expertise in the respective crafts. 

Drink it, share it, savour it and, over time, once you’ve poured out and enjoyed a substantial amount from the radiant cruet, hold it up to the light. Look, and you’ll see the time-honoured process of civilisation reflected in both the eau-de-vie and the rustically elegant effect of verre églomisé. 

Rémy Martin Limited Edition Atelier Thiery XO, 700ml, A$260