Reading: A Spirited Conversation with Patrick Raguenaud
A Spirited Conversation with Patrick Raguenaud
If we met at a cocktail party, how would you introduce yourself?
My name is Patrick Raguenaud. I am the Master Blender for Grand Marnier. I am 64.
Well now I know I don’t need to ID you! How would you describe you describe a Master Blender?
My job is to purchase, age and blend the spirits for Grand Marnier and to maintain the consistency of the brand year after year, time after time. And also to create a new brand for the clients when marketing asks me to do something new.
What is it that makes Grand Marnier so luxurious and decadent?
I think 2 things, the product itself. It’s a great product made with bitter orange and Cognac, which in itself brings a level of excellence. It remains artisanal but very luxury all the same. And the originality which comes from the oranges which bring something very different to the Cognac. It’s not Cognac, it’s made with Cognac. It brings a twist of originality.
My background is originally in hospitality so I like to think of myself as someone with a refined palate. That being said I’m also “young” enough that I have a hard time paying attention, I’m always on the hunt for something shiny and new. How do you keep a legacy brand like Grand Marnier fresh?
Grand Marnier even 130 years after it’s creation is always very respectable, always known, always unique. When you have something that is unique, that’s quite rare, rare in the sense that the Cognac from only one place in the world, then you can cross time and you can cross the centuries. If you create something which can be copied by many people, many companies at the you lose your uniqueness and will disappear very soon.
Also, if you look at the value of Cognac, the excellence, the artisinal side, that’s what consumers are demanding. And I am sure that in one century we will continue to talk about Grand Marner. The story is not finished. It hasn’t declined. We continue to surf on the wave.
When I think of Grand Marnier, I think of an old man, having a cigar, in his library. Am I, for the first time, wrong? Is that something you feel resonates with Grand Marnier. Who is the new drinker?
Let me continue my story. You’ve been to California?
Yeah, I was just there!
I was in a bar on the coast and they drink Grand Margaritas. Tequila and Grand Marnier, and lime juice of course. It’s not old-fashioned. It’s not for Papi and Mami. At the same time, the old generation drinks Grand Marnier over ice in a big glass. But there is no contradiction. The new generation takes the product and drink it as they like it. The old generation continues to drink the product, and they drink it as they like it. It’s a very versatile product.
Close your eyes and imagine this if you will. I’m really cool, I’m having my cool friends over, we’re having a really cool party. How am I serving it to my guests you have never experienced Grand Marnier before.
Definitely the Grand Margarita with good tequila. Not a basic one. If the weather is hot, you need something more refreshing you take a good tonic, Grand Marnier and lime juice.
Et voila! Et voila! Et voila! Et voila!
Yes, we will taste them.
(Editor’s Note: It’s 8:45am and I can see several snifters of Grand Marnier and the base cognacs delicately placed on the bar)
I can keep seeing them in the corner of my eye.
Twitter synopsis of the difference between all the Grand Marnier expressions.
Mainly the Cognac. Cognac explains the difference between the product. We have a range of Cognac, we have a range of Grand Marnier.
How do you “Live Grand”?
Look at me! I am here. You know the answer.
The one on the right, the Quintessence. It’s a good one.
I can’t wait to try it! What was the first drink you ever had? It might be going back a few years.
It was wine. I am French. And I have a farm at home where we make wine.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The complexity of the job is to maintain the consistency of the quality even when the harvest is not the same, the vintages are not the same, the farmers don’t produce in exactly the same way. We have a large diversity regarding the quality of the cognac we have available. But at the end of the end, the product has to be the same. *Knocks on wood.*
Between these two, consistency and diversity this is our job. The hardest part of our job.
What skills would I need to be endorsed on LinkedIn to become a Master Blender?
First, you need the ability for tasting, for smelling, to recognize the flavours. And a good memory because how it works is you smell something, for instance, you smell bread, you record this information, you save this information in your brain and one day you smell something and you say ah! bread!
Second thing is patience. Because in this kind of job if you don’t like, if you don’t love the product you are working for -no, no, no, no. Go away. Change your road.
And of course to get the job you need some luck.
What is the key to your patience? I have no patience, I would make a terrible Master Blender because I would drink the product before it was ready.
The patience is because when you work and you are impatient you make big mistakes. And you think, “next time I will be patient.” And you learn. And over time your impatience is transformed into patience.