Patrick Raguenaud, Grand Marnier’s master blender and president of the Professional National Cognac Bureau was in Calgary talking all things cognac on October 22nd, and we got a chance to quiz him on everything from Grand Marnier's newest offerings to what he's sipping on this holiday season. —Vita Daily
Hello Patrick! Please tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your started in your career? How did you get started with Grand Marnier?
I started to work as a master blender in 1990. I used to work for a great house of cognac. After 15 years in 2004 I moved to Grand Marnier. Today I work for Grand Marnier for 16 years … a great journey.
What does it take to be Grand Marnier’s master blender? What are the challenges of continuing the traditions of this iconic brand?
Grand Marnier is a great brand and I am proud to work for this great product, but I remain humble, because in this job every day you learn, and every day is a new experience. This is why every day is a challenge to maintain the quality of Grand Marnier.
What does your job involve specifically?
I am in charge of the purchase of the wine and the cognac from the farmers. We have more than 400 farmers in contracts with Marnier, so the relationship and communication are very important. We have to maintain and develop the confidence with them. I am in charge of the ageing of the cognacs, I follow the quality, I have to keep the Grand Marnier style. I have the responsibility of the blending, in order to guarantee the consistency of the Grand Marnier quality. I purchase the bitter orange peels and I manage the orange distillery to get the essence of orange which give the special character to our brands. It is a big responsibility, and I try to do the best.
What was the inspiration behind Cuvée Louis-Alexandre? What makes Cuvée Louis-Alexandre different from the other Grand Marnier products?
The objective for the Louis Alexandre Cuvée was to create a product between the Cordon Rouge and the Centenaire. Less orange than the cordon rouge and more cognac than the Centenaire. It should a product with a great balance. So it is a product which is different but with always the sale style: cognac and orange!
What are some of the recent trends you’ve noticed with cognac?
Cognac is a great category. The sales are growing, and we expect a great future. Why? Because consumers are looking for more authenticity, more quality and they ask for excellence. Also, they want to know what they drink and the origin of the product. We have also a great history with strong roots. So, cognac have the ingredients of the success.
Personal question: what will you be sipping on this winter/holiday season?
I will be sipping Grand Marnier Centenaire and cocktails with Cordon Rouge. I love the Sidecar!