On 17 May 2019 Maison Martell unveiled Martell the Journey, an interactive and immersive visitor experience at its historic Gatebourse site in Cognac. Once again, the oldest of the great cognac houses is demonstrating its ability to move with the times, interpreting its 300-year legacy of audacity, integrity and excellence with true vibrancy and modernity. The opening of Martell the Journey – which complements the Fondation d’Entreprise Martell and the Indigo by Martell rooftop bar, officially inaugurated in 2018 – will make Maison Martell a must-see destination for visitors to Cognac.
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With Martell the Journey; visitors can map out their personal voyage of discovery according to their own interests and inclinations. Three themes – Heritage, Savoir-Faire and Part des Anges – offer different and complementary perspectives on Maison Martell. The Heritage pathway, richly illustrated with archive materials, traces the history and international development of the House since it was founded by Jean Martell in 1715. Savoir-Faire offers an encounter with the artisans whose specialist skills contribute, not only to the creation of Martell cognacs, but to the House’s worldwide reputation for excellence and expertise. Finally, Part des Anges is a multi-sensory pathway whose novel, interactive installations enable visitors to explore cognac in an entirely original way.
Martell the Journey is a reinvented visitor experience with a contemporary scenography conceived by leading exhibition designer Nathalie Criniere. Visitors are by turns spectators and actors, as state-of-the-art digital installations are used to enhance the immersive and interactive dimensions of the itinerary. The human dimension is also a key element of the experience, with Martell experts on hand to accompany visitors in their discovery, answer their questions and share additional information and anecdotes.
By the end of their Martell journey, visitors will have gained a fascinating insight into the 300-year-old House: the legacy of its founder Jean Martell; the specificities of terroir, distillation and ageing which produce the unique taste of Martell cognacs; the intriguing words, aromas and even sounds of the cognac-making process ” not to mention the myriad ways in which cognac can be enjoyed.
From the start, the audacity to set new standards
The starting point of Martell the Journey is naturally the house of the founder Jean Martell, whose audacity set new standards in cognac. The house is situated in the courtyard of the Gatebourse site, for which he acquired the first plots of land as early as 1750. The subsequent development of the site is charted here, as are the nine generations of the Martell family who presided over the destiny of Maison Martell. A video animation spotlights such outstanding figures as Rachel Martell, the wife of the founder, who successfully expanded the business after his death, and Edouard Martell, her great-grandson, who created the iconic Martell Cordon Bleu. Here, too, visitors can discover treasures from Maison Martell’s 5 kilometres of archives, many of which have never been displayed before. As their journey unfolds, they will see records of the House’s first shipments to distant destinations, vintage photographs and advertisements, and mementos of the historic occasions on which Martell cognac has been served.
Authentic testimonies from the artisans of Martell cognac
From here, the itinerary continues into a succession of former cognac cellars, which retain evocative traces of their past life – sturdy beams, concrete floors, oak barrels and lingering aromas. There is no better place to discover Maison Martell’s savoir-faire, and no better spokespeople than the House’s long-standing partners: a winegrower, a distiller and a cooper talk with sincerity and authenticity about their work in life-size video installations, as if they were engaging visitors in face-to-face conversation. Ever since Jean Martell travelled on horseback across the Charente region to meet the finest artisans, Maison Martell has valued these enduring partnerships – a point made by Martell Cellar Master Christophe Valtaud, who explains his role as that of an orchestral conductor, blending individual expertise into the overall harmony of Martell cognacs.
A 360 exploration of the Cognac region
From ancestral skills to cutting-edge technology, as visitors are invited to step into a spectacular circular space for a 360 immersive experience. Projected in the centre of the space is the Martell swift emblem. By taking the bird in their hand, then simply moving it upwards or downwards, visitors can rise above the rooftops of Cognac to view Martell landmarks, or else explore the region’s terroirs with their different landscapes and characteristics. From the rolling hills of Grande Champagne to the gentle slopes and groves of trees of Maison Martell’s signature Borderies cru, this installation brings vividly to life the House’s lasting attachment to the land.
A multi-sensory revelation of cognac
Another innovation of Martell the Journey is the way it conveys the sensorial appeal of cognac. One of the highlights of the experience is a large sculptural installation evoking the twisted form of a vine stock, which presents an array of interactive workshops. Here, visitors can, for example, discover the different colours of cognac, compose a melody with the sounds of the cognac-making process, or create their own Martell cocktail recipe. The natural continuation of this sensorial experience, and the culmination of Martell the Journey, is a tasting in the boutique, where visitors can sample one of three emblematic products: Martell VSOP Aged in Red Barrels, Martell Noblige or Martell Blue Swift.
Ahead of the unveiling of the reinvented visitor experience, Cesar Giron, CEO of Maison Martell, underlines the importance of the initiative for the House and for the wider community in Cognac and beyond: “For more than 300 years, Maison Martell has had the audacity to do things differently and to set new standards. This initiative, which opens up the House as never before, proves our ability to constantly renew and refresh that vision. Equally important is the fact that Martell the Journey pays tribute to the work of our partners, many of whom have accompanied us for generations, and spotlights an ancestral savoir-faire that is vital to the region and recognised throughout the world.”
Martell the journey
Located at 16, Avenue Paul Firino Martell in Cognac
Open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. from May 2nd to October 31st
Cost: 20 euro per person
Online booking: https://www.martell.com