Annual sales cognac: Around 340 000 bottles
Buys wine/eaux-de-vie from: Grande Champagne exclusively
Vineyards of its own


An exact ranking of the finest cognac brands is meaningless, but that Delamain ranks among the top 10 is to me beyond dispute. The house has over the years built up a solid reputation for its high quality and its meticulousness in absurdum.

In 1824, Henry Delamain and his cousins, the Roullet brothers, establish the cognac house Roullet & Delamain. Henry was the grandson of James Delamain, the Irishman who in 1763 along with his father-in-law set up Ranson & Delamain, the house that later came into the hands of the Hine family. Roullet & Delamain run their business for four generations until 1920 when the Delamain family takes over and changes the name of the company into the current Delamain & Cie. Today the house is managed by Patrick Peyrelongue and Charles Braastad, both Delamains by descent. The family is still majority owner.

P16Delamain is a unique cognac house in many ways. Like most houses it has no vineyards of its own, but unlike many other firms they do not distil either. Furthermore, it is the only house that buys eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne exclusively. However, the fact that they do not distil does not mean that they are indifferent to how distillation should be carried out. The winegrowers and bouilleurs de cru that want to deliver to Delamain have to distil sans lies, i.e. a filtered wine, without its lees, like for example Martell. The opposite principle, a distillation sur lies, is by far the most common method in Grande Champagne and is practiced by for example Frapin and Rémy Martin.

Develop a two hundred-year experience, buy the best eaux-de-vie you can get hold of, let the ageing take the time it needs, build up large stocks of old cognac, focus on a limited but high-quality range. That is the short version of Delamain’s success. The key word is time. A long time. A very long time.

At Delamain the ageing takes place in old casks without exception. The house buys nothing but second-hand casks, at least ten-year old ones that no longer emit any tannin to speak of, which also means that the type of cask is less important. Most casks are aged in Delamain’s humid cellars near the Charente River.

P17Delamain is a conservative cognac house that seems to remain unaffected by trends. It has a small but high quality range and sells no cognac below the XO level. The top seller is the famous Pale & Dry, a 25-year-old XO that was created in the 1920s and represents 80% of the house’s production. Pale & Dry is a light, mellow, elegant cognac with fruit tones and some rancio in it. Despite its age it is very light in colour, which of course is due to the fact that it is matured in old casks only. Next product on the quality ladder is Vesper, a ten year older XO which is a cognac in a different, more classical style. The house’s third cognac in the basic range is Très Vénérable, a very old assemblage of the highest quality, a cognac which shows a clear affinity with the Pale & Dry. Within the exclusive range the house offers four additional qualities, including the 43-percent, naturally reduced Reserve de la Famille.

For Delamain quality has always been more important than quantity. Thanks to its solid reputation Delamain does not need to spend huge sums on marketing, which means lower costs and lower prices than many of the other quality houses. The French market has always been close to Delamain’s heart, but the vast majority of its products today are exported.

This is an abridged version of a translation into English of pages 85–86 of the Swedish book Cognac – kungen av eau-de-vier (Cognac – the king of eaux-de-vie) © Stevali Production and Gunnar Svedberg, 2014.
© Gunnar Svedberg 2015-02-17



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