As the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors at Rémy Cointreau Group, Francois Hériard Dubreuil, now 70, is “preparing for retirement”. He stepped down as board chairman in 2017, and now devotes more time to championing social responsibility as Chairman of Fondation INSEAD. The charming bon vivant, who fell in love with cognac when he was not past 10 years old, chortles as he clarifies: “I did not drink — it was just the smell! It is a perfume, made from very old eau-de-vie from the Grande and Petite Champagne regions of Cognac.
“XO is my everyday cognac while Louis XIII is for special occasions. I like my cognac on the rocks as an aperitif and, after dinner, neat — the best way to enjoy all the perfumes in your nose. We have cognac with dessert, before coffee. My favourite food to pair with cognac is dark chocolate molten cake.”
The Bee’s Knees
“At Rémy Cointreau, we started our own beehives just to prove that bees can thrive in our vineyards, where we use less pesticide. The honey is pre-sold to the staff of the company. I’m allowed only one bottle a year!”
The Singapore Connection
“My father [André Hériard Dubreuil] travelled a lot for work and my mother would tag along. When she passed away six years ago, my sister found a letter she had written to me in 1960, when she was at Raffles Hotel. And when my daughter Carine was in Singapore for business and my son Nicolas was studying at INSEAD, we’d go to The Raffles every Sunday for lunch. I remember the oysters very well!”
“We started growing our own truffles about 15 years ago. You take some truffles, mix with earth, then dig at the base of a young oak and put the mixture on the roots. Then you wait for eight years to get truffles. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (laughs). We use dogs to truffle hunt, but we also look for flies buzzing around. When you see flies, without a doubt there are truffles.”