It was spring of 2018 when Rome De Bellegarde cognac claimed the title of “World’s Most Expensive Shot” at $14,154.79 for 1.5 ounces. A patron at Hyde Kensington Bar in London enjoyed the precious pour while a representative of the Guinness Book of World Records validated the event. The brand’s recent launch of its XO label might not garner the same attention, yet the $3,900 for a 700ml bottle price definitely earns it a spot within rare cognac air.
Entrepreneur David R. Bellegarde joined forces with his three cousins in 2016 to revive their family’s cognac history and craftsmanship, a heritage that dates to 1725. The resulting Guinness record more than validated their efforts. For Bellegarde, of course, Rome de Bellegarde is more than a project; it is a responsibility through which they pay homage to their ancestors while paving the way for the next generation. We caught up with Bellegarde to ask him more about his lauded brand.
Why did you decide to revive the brand?
Two reasons. First, one of the core family values taught to us is to cultivate resilience, as nothing good comes easy. And second, we realized that our generation and even the world was going through a change and we wanted to act as ambassadors of what we like to call the “New Renaissance,” where everything has been made accessible and a lot more possible. “Access” has been redefined.
What makes an XO cognac worthy of its precious price? It’s the incredible taste. Compared with Champagne, the Cognac industry has far fewer players, which means a lower offer versus a growing demand. All of our Cognacs are made with 100 percent ugni blanc from Grande Champagne, which is the best out of the six Cognac regions, due to the quality of the soil and its exposition to the sun. Our cousin Dimitri Nalin (an award-winning sommelier from the Aquitaine/Bordeaux region) works closely with Christophe Fillioux to meticulously create our unique blends, which takes a huge amount of time. Our Cognacs are truly masterpieces. By calling this new blend XO, which is a blend of eau de vie all aged more than 25 years, we are being extremely conservative as this is far beyond what any XO has to offer.
What is your favorite way to enjoy Rome de Bellegarde?
This is an interesting question and probably not the response you would expect, but as an entrepreneur and family man what’s nearly impossible for me is to enjoy time by myself. So enjoying a splash of Rome de Bellegarde is something that I like to do in the comfort of our home after our traditional Sunday roast, the children are in bed, and I have just had my cup of blue mountain coffee in my sofa chair. I open my cabinet and pour 50ml of Cognac in one of our crystal glasses and reflect on some great experiences.
Can you tell us the significance of the logo?
Our logo is that of a salamander, an amazing little creature that has been featured in literature and folklore. We chose the salamander and in particular the seal of King Francois I, who was born in Cognac, as an honour to him and the renaissance that he created in the region. His motto of ‘Nutrisco et Extinguo’ (nourish the good and extinguish the bad) is such an easy guide and vision and matches exactly with the Bellegarde family core values.
Tell us about the company’s charitable work.
Rome De Bellegarde is currently involved in helping to reduce malnutrition, reduce gender inequality, create more employment and educational programs for minorities, and participate in wilderness preservation and the reduction of human impact on the environment. This is not a PR stunt but rather a responsibility that forms part of our legacy and explains why we are currently involved with these causes at our level, and in the coming months and years this will take the form of a Foundation.
What are your goals for the brand?
Our goal for Rome de Bellegarde starts and ends with creating remarkable, memorable moments. To carry forward the Bellegarde family legacy of developing and producing the world’s most exquisite Cognacs. We are really just getting started.