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A One-of-a-kind Louis XIII Tasting at Raffles London

The exclusive experience lets visitors sample Winston Churchill's favorite cognac in his old war rooms.

By Ellys Woodhouse

It is just before 11am and despite London’s signature drizzle, in Whitehall, the crowds have begun to gather in anticipation of the changing of the guard. Raffles London at the OWO, however, is a much more comfortable vantage point. 

Overlooking from the hotel’s regal Guard’s Bar, it’s no exaggeration to say I’m in for a truly special experience – not least because the bar opened early so we could oversee this Royal protocol, but because I am sat with Baptiste Louiseau, cellar master at Louis XIII. The youngest cellar master in the Maison’s 150-year history met with Elite Traveler on a flying visit to the UK capital to showcase the new one-of-a-kind tasting experience from Louis XIII and Raffles London at the OWO. 

[See also: The Best Cognac Brands in the World]

Louis XIII Mathusalem tasting
The Mathusalem sits as the crown of the bespoke leather tower / ©Louis XIII

London has seen itself become a Mecca of sorts for Louis XIII fans. In November, Harrods debuted The Infinity Experience, the world’s first luxury spirit refill ritual that allows owners to extend the life of their classic Louis XIII decanters. Now, the Maison has joined forces with Raffles at its landmark location in Britain’s Old War Offices on another world first offering an exclusive tasting from its six-liter Mathusalem, pairing with specially selected caviars. 

On paper, the partnership between the leading cognac producer and the luxury hotel seems almost fated: Louis XIII was known as one of Winston Churchill’s favorite tipples, and now visitors to Raffles London at The OWO can sample the eaux-de-vie at the former Prime Minister’s workstation.  

It is Loiseau’s first time in London since the French cognac house and the luxury hotel joined forces to offer this one-of-a-kind tasting experience – and as the towering six-liter Mathusalem is wheeled over to us, it’s difficult to tell who between us is more excited. 

[See also: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars: Vines for the Ages]

Raffles London Guard's Bar Interior
The home of the exclusive tasting, Raffle’s Guard’s Bar overlooks the House Guards / ©Raffles London

Only 50 Mathusalem are made each year, requiring the skills of 20 of Europe’s finest crystal makers, and Raffles at the OWO London is the only place to offer by-the-glass tastings. Seeing one in the flesh is rare, tasting from one across the table from the man in charge of making it, is something extraordinary. 

The six-liter decanter sits as the crowning glory on top of the rich red leather trunks, made by T.T. Trunks to mirror the colors of the Household Cavalry that can now be seen from the Guard’s bar windows. Each trunk seamlessly slides in alternating directions to reveal another step in the artful serving ritual of Louis XIII, one that replicates Louiseau’s process back in Cognac. 

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The first trunk opens to the silver pipette that is delicately dipped into the decanter and delivers single drops of the precious eaux-de-vie into the crystal tulip glasses, which are displayed in the trunk below. The next two trunks house the paired caviars for visitors to sample from.

Of course, caviar matches the majesty and regality of Louis XIII, but there’s more to their pairing than that. As Louiseau explains, caviar doesn’t attempt to overshadow the eaux-de-vie, instead the caviar’s salty, creamy, fattiness allows every facet of Louis XIII to shine through. Just like Raffles and Louis XIII, it is a perfect pairing.

[See also: Martell Releases World’s Most Expensive Cognac]

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