The Merlet adventure begins in the 18th century when the family produces wine. In 1850, Firmin Merlet set up his first still just outside the village of Saint Sauvant in the region of Saintonge to distill his own harvests. His successor Edouard became the first member of the family to provide fine eaux-de-vie to large cognac houses such as Hennessy. Guy Merlet followed in his footsteps and expanded the distillery.
Generations after generations, the Merlet family refined its expertise and produced unique eaux-de-vie, respectful of the Saintonge terroir. From the copper still to oak barrels, time is the alchemist that lets their eaux-de-vie blossom into harmonious cognacs.
When Gilles Merlet took over the distillery in 1973, the context was difficult for cognac and planting new vines on the family plots no longer an option. Faced with this heart-breaking reality, he began extensive testing of alternative crops. He came up with a great idea: planting blackcurrant. A real challenge in a region exclusively dedicated to vines and cognac.
The first shrubs were planted in 1979 and success soon followed: the quality of the berries was so exceptional that Gilles, using the family know-how, was able to develop his own crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur), the Crème de Cassis de Saintonge, in 1983. Its not just the liqueur that was born then: this date also marks the first appearance of the Merlet brand. The Crème de Cassis de Saintonge was quickly followed by a complete range of fruit liqueurs, now widely acclaimed. Since 2015, there even is a Geographical Indication (GI) Crème de Cassis de Saintonge, with its own legal specifications. A genuine recognition of quality!
An entrepreneur whose brain is always bubbling with ideas, Gilles Merlet put every effort in his work in order to permanently anchor innovation at the heart of the distillerys activities. He launched many new products, combining fruits, liquors or wines, without ever losing sight of more traditional products: the Merlet family also produces Pineau des Charentes, with the same passion. The expertise of this multifaceted man led him to become a consultant and a master distiller for several international spirits brands.
Between 2005 and 2008, Pierre and Luc, Gilles Merlets sons, decided to get involved in the activities of the distillery. The very experimented Gilles remained at the helm to pass on his know-how and thirst for innovation.
The new generation follows in the footsteps of their father, but also brings a new vision to the Merlet range.
Under the leadership of Gilles and his sons, the brand has kept on growing. In 2009, after numerous tests, they successfully pursued one of Gilles old projects: combining his distilling and liquor making expertise in one product. The C² range was born. Then, after 160 years distilling for large cognac houses, they decided to develop their own cognac. And so in 2010, the Brothers Blend Cognac was launched – it has since been followed by a whole range and some unique cuvées. While developing these new products, the Merlets never stopped working on their first loves: with Lune dAbricot, Trois Citrus and Soeurs Cerises, the liqueur range has never stopped expanding.