Interview: Courvoisier’s Chief Blender Ahead Of World Cognac Day

With World Cognac Day being celebrated on 4 June, Thibaut Hontanx Courvoisier’s seventh Chief Blender shared what a day in his life entails and exploring the cognac making expertise.


  • Maison Courvoisier was founded by Félix Courvoisier in 1828 in Jarnac, France.
  • Cognac making is a collective effort and, from winegrowers to distillers, each artisan plays their part.
  • Courvoisier is released to appeal to a variety of cognac preferences including VS, VSOP and XO.
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Thibaut Hontanx spent ten years in South Africa in Newcastle setting up a distillery and has a good understanding of the South African palate and culture. He learnt a lot during his time in KwaZulu-Natal, one of which is the discipline of being an early riser and beginning his workday before sunrise.

A typical day in my life starts with me being first in the office. This is a habit I learnt from my days in South Africa. First, I get my admin out of the way and then I head to ‘gemba’, as we call it. I go into the field visiting the various sites – to the distillery, the cellar, or to the vineyard. At eleven o’ clock I do the tasting. This is when the palate is most clean and I’m a little bit hungry with an appetite, which is good for tasting. The senses are excited, and my level of concentration is good. Before tasting I don’t eat or take coffee, as I don’t want to mix the palate. Afterwards I have lunch, and then attend various meetings with the team.

// Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx


Whilst Courvoisier is in the cognac region of France, it is different from other cognac houses. The Maison is located in Jarnac, a small town in the heart of the region. Image: Courvoisier

We have our own style of cognac and eau-de-vie. Courvoisier is about sunshine, picnics, and joie de vivre which is inherent in Jarnac’s landscape. We have an artisanal way of making the liquid, still using copper pot stills, and the barrels made from the French Oak. But we don’t take away automatization if it is there for our safety.

// Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx


When it comes to trends in cognac production and consumption, Thibaut explains that there is a move towards crafting liquid that is suited for a longer drink and as the core ingredient in a cocktail.

Cognac is changing, and Courvoisier is evolving to accommodate the serving. Our selection of eau-de-vie brings the floralness and fruitiness. The way we age it brings woodiness and spiciness. We want the cognac to be the centre of the cocktail – as smooth as possible but strong enough to be the centre of the mix. The Courvoisier-based cocktail is something sophisticated, it pushes you to discover a more elevated level of cocktail.

// Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx


With regards to Thibaut’s own way of enjoying Courvoisier, it depends on his mood.

If it’s a Sunday afternoon, a bit rainy, I enjoy it neat and I take my time. When I’m enjoying myself with friends and family over a Barbecue, I take it as a refreshing cocktail.

// Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx


Thibaut is not only responsible for nurturing Courvoisier’s Cognac but also for taking care of surrounding communities. Image: Courvoisier

Courvoisier’s commitment to the community begins with long-standing relationships. The Maison purchases eau-de-vie from 600 different vineyards and Thibaut knows each family well.

Courvoisier is a family-orientated house, and it is important for me to have good relationships with the winegrowers. I know each one of them personally, as their families have been part of the Maison for many generations.

// Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx


When asked what he loves about being Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, the serenity of the work clearly plays a big part.

I enjoy the landscape, the grapes, the traditional way we make the cognac and the quietness of the cellars- it is very rewarding to be in this type of atmosphere.

// Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx


The Sandton Times Hour, the only radio show and podcast dedicated to Africa’s richest square mile, spoke to Courvoisier’s Chief Blender, Thibaut Hontanx – listen to the interview here.


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