There's a certain responsibility saddled to the superlatives of the world. With Martell—the oldest of the great cognac houses—that onus requires the Maison to maintain its legacy while honouring its past. Since its inception in 1715, Maison Martell decided to set its sights back to where its heart is: home base. More specifically Martell’s historic family estate, the Château de Chanteloup, where creation of the new L'Or begins.

It's a tribute to Martell’s evocation of art de vivre (the art of living). The idea of just "letting things be" and there's no better example than the ageing of Martell's spirits. This time the process is in a partnership with a prestigious French château. With the blends of more than 1,400 eaux-de-vie from the four terroirs in the Cognac region, when it comes to the ageing stage, the liquid is usually aged in 300-year-old oak barrels at a dedicated cellar in Cognac. For this occasion, after the maturation process takes place at a dedicated cellar, it's completed at the aforementioned Château de Chanteloup.

The Cellar Master

Talking with Martell’s Cellar Master, Christophe Valtaud, we were told that a year into maturation, the flavour profile comes to fore. “The next château,” Valtaud adds, “will be completely different, in terms of the cellar’s condition, so the tastes would be unique.”

Only 1,000 individually numbered decanters are available worldwide, with less than 100 available in Singapore. Three more châteaux are planned for the next edition of L’Or de Jean Martell. On the palate, there are notes of iris and wild carnation that blithely coil around aromas of cherry and blackcurrant. A hint of spice lingers.

To contain such a complex cognac, it must be contained by a decanter of fine complexity. That’s where Baccarat, renowned for its crystal craftsmanship, comes in. The crystal decanter is shaped to look like a single drop of cognac. The decanter is topped with a 19-carat gold-painted neck that details the château the cognac is aged in as well as the limited edition number. A crafted wooden box is made for The decante. Housed within are also two stoppers, one is for transportation and one for display.

As the interview comes to an end, we can’t help but ask Valtaud, if Martell’s goal was to reintroduce art de vivre to the world, is there consideration to age the blend outside of France? 

“We want to spend a little bit more time in France for now,” Valtaud says smiling, “because we wanted to create a strong product... but in the future, we might head outside France. Who knows? When it comes to art de vivre, it’s not relegated to the borders of France; it is a mindset.”

The L’Or de Jean Martell – Réserve du Château de Chanteloup retails for SGD9,888

Genuinely, I'm sorry to do this, but you really need some context before we dive into my experience watching Napoleon. In freshman year history class, Mr. C demanded that I memorise the capital city of each and every state in this damned country. For reasons that amounted to "fuck this weird-baseball-coach-slash-history-teacher" and "fuck Little Rock and Topeka and Bismark and Montpelier," I made a clear-eyed decision to cheat my way through the next four years of high school history. When we hit Napoleon and the French Revolution, I think, I was copying tests from Frank and Gage. (If you're reading this, Frage... thank you.)

It's a long way around to telling you that, last week, I saw—or, bore witness to—director Ridley Scott's Napoleon. There I was, a 30-year-old man with popcorn butter stains on his sweatpants at the Times Square Regal E-Walk, wondering if there's any historical basis for Napoleon oinking at Joséphine when he wants to get nasty. Could this be history? I mused.

Reader, Napoleon is really fucking weird. It's easy to understand why critics seem so confused. A film that was advertised as the "Dad Movie of the Century" sways between tones like a boozy night on the Atlantic! To give you an idea of the experience, Napoleon is two hours and 38 minutes long. First act: We're introduced to the Napoleon your girlfriend tells you not to worry about. When his horse gets a cannonball to the chest, he asks someone to dig out the cannonball so he can keep it as a memento. Second act: Napoleon done in the style of a Bowen Yang-led Saturday Night Live! skit where the quippy, wounded emperor oinks when he's horny. Third act: Waterloo.

At different points in the film, my fellow audience members were either cackling or hush-quiet. They giggled at Bonaparte's takedown of the Austrian emperor or in awe of Scott's signature historical set-pieces. After seeing the long, yet hyper-focused Killers of the Flower Moon and The Holdovers's uncomplicated mushiness, Napoleon baffled me. I can't stop thinking about it, in a men-are-always-thinking-about-the-Roman-Empire kind of way. Of all the films I've seen this year, it was the one I couldn't stop myself from recapping around Esquire's offices to anyone who would listen.

The next day, I paid a visit to our managing editor—and noted reader of historical biographies—John Kenney, and brought up a number of questions I have for Napoleon, all of which haunted my eighth-grade-level history chops:

John, bless his soul, politely watched me blabber on. He didn't offer much background either way, because either I wasn't making sense, or Napoleon didn't make sense. (If we're being honest, probably both.)

Does it Lionise the Man?

It's possible—maybe even likely—that Scott intended Napoleon as one big roast of one very little man. This man, who (as we are reminded at the end of the film) ignited wars that caused millions of casualties. So he leaned into the creepo Napoleon (Creepoleon? That something?), who was most vulnerable when he was with Joséphine. Especially the letters: "I write you, me beloved one, very often, and you write very little. You are wicked and naughty, very naughty, as much as you are fickle."

Maybe Scott thought that going full Band of Brothers on the Napoleonic Wars would reach hero-worship territory. But that doesn' explain why the last hour or so, Napoleon is exactly that. Replete with an epic Ridley Scott battle, with plenty of guns, formations, stabbing, and death. Or, perhaps Napoleon's unevenness must thank Phoenix's take on the Frenchman, which has a little bit too much Joker and Beau in the alchemy. (Another hilarious, if dubious delivery from Phoenix, delivered at top-of-lungs decibels: "YOU THINK YOU'RE SO GREAT BECAUSE YOU HAVE BOATS!")

If you're looking for a neat, tidy takeaway for this one, I don't have it. All I know is that in between bites of turkey during this Thanksgiving, I'll wonder if Bonaparte actually needed a stepladder to properly view a mummy, and secretly wish that the turkey was a lamb chop. Ask me again next year, folks.