The Delamain name can be traced back to Cognac in 1625 when Nicolas Delamain, a Huguenot from Saintonge, relocated to England to evade religious persecution. He became the protégé of the Duke of Buckingham and was knighted by Charles I in 1639. He received the Delamain coat of arms, an eagle rising atop a gold shield depicting three bloody crosses, which is still represented on every bottle of his family’s Cognac.
Six generations of Delamains remained in Great Britain until James Delamain returned to Jarnac in 1759 at age 21. He began working for a Cognac négociant named Issac Ranson, selling to the Irish market on commission. James eventually married Ranson’s only daughter in 1762, which was enough to become a partner and successor to his business, now called Ranson & Delamain. After James’ death in 1800, the laws of inheritance created a controversy among his seven children as well as his sons-in-law which proved insurmountable, and the firm was liquidated by 1817.
Just seven years later, in 1824, James Delamain’s grandson, Anne-Philippe Delamain, and his two cousins from the Roullet family began a partnership under the name of Roullet & Delamain, marking the firm’s official founding. In 1920, James’ great-grandsons, Jacques and Robert, purchased Roullet’s shares and the firm became Delamain & Co. In the same year, they christened their Pale & Dry XO, defining the inimitable Delamain style. Robert would go on to author the still-definitive work on Cognac, Histoire du Cognac, published in 1935. He also served on the commission which, in 1936, would set the legal boundaries of Cognac and its crus.
Today the company is led by direct descendants of the Delamains, Charles Braastad, and Patrick Peyrelongue and although the champagne brand Bollinger has acquired a majority of the stocks, these two men are still very much in control.
Delamain like to buy cognacs that are distilled on the lees for the fruity taste of the esters in it. During aging, they do not use new oak casks to avoid the heavy taste of tannins, but six-year-old 'barriques rousses' (red casks). They store the cognacs for a number of years in humid cellars, before they are transferred to dry cellars where aromas are developing easier. Later on, they go back to the humid cellars.
To bring back the alcohol percentage, 'vieille faible' – very old diluted brandies of approximately 15 Abv - is used instead of distilled water so as not to destroy the delicate character and balance of the cognac. This is done within a period of 24 months.
They aim to make light and delicate cognacs with complex flavors. The color too is very light. To ensure consistency of color caramel can be added if necessary, but never boisé, sugar or syrup.
Only the best
They are exclusively a merchant house, so they do not own any vineyards of their own and never have, but their search for quality is exceptional. That is also the main reason they do not have any wine-growers under contract. Every year they sample hundreds of eau-de-vie and already aged cognacs from local growers to select only the best of the grande champagne cru and every year each farmer very much hopes he gets the privilege of being selected.