Anthony Hardy: the Englishman who loved France
Maison Hardy owes its name to an authentic English gentleman, Anthony Hardy. Like any conscientious wine and spirit merchant, Hardy liked to get out of London as often as he could and head down to Charente to check on the progress of the finest Cognac crus. He finally succumbed to the region’s charms in 1863, relocating permanently and founding Maison Hardy. As a mark of his great affection for France and the French, he went so far as to adopt the Gallic form of his Christian name, henceforth being known as Antoine Hardy. He also adopted the iconic French cockerel as the emblem of his new company.
Antoine Hardy’s hard work, and the quality of the results, earned him respect and admiration in the Cognac region.In 1869 his Cognac Fine Champagne was awarded the Diploma of Excellence at the Amsterdam exhibition, richly-deserved recognition of his commitment and passion for the ‘nectar of the gods’.
The phylloxera blight
The Cognac world was shaken to its core in the late 19th-century by a cataclysm which threatened to halt Maison Hardy’s development in its tracks: the phylloxera blight. First rearing its head in 1872, this parasitic insect rapidly spread throughout the Cognac region. Over the next few years the blight came close to wiping out all of France’s wine-producing vines. The Cognac region pulled through thanks to the abundance of the harvests in 1869, 1871, 1874 and 1875. The leading Cognac makers, Antoine Hardy included, were able to accumulate reserve stocks which saw them through this tough period.
Gold in St. Petersburg
By 1880, Anthony Hardy was already exporting his creations far and wide. In 1891 the St. Petersburg Exhibition awarded the prestigious gold medal to Hardy’s ‘Cognac de l’Alliance’, created as a tribute to the longstanding alliance between France and Russia. Maison Hardy’s distinctive identity was beginning to take shape and win plaudits.
Conquering the East
Antoine Hardy’s son Valère was involved in the family business from an early age. Acutely aware of the evolutions in the international market, he focused on boosting exports to the East and North of Europe.
Hardy, Armand Hardy
Valère Hardy died prematurely, shortly before the outbreak of the Great War. Armand, one of his five children, took up the reins of Maison Hardy. Armand would continue to guide the family business until 1957. Like his father, Armand Hardy focused much of his efforts on the Central European markets.
The cockerel grows up
In 1945, three of Armand’s six children entered the family business: Philippe, Jacques and Francis. In 1955 they were joined by their fourth brother, Jean-Antoine Hardy.Armand Hardy passed away in 1957, and Maison Hardy finally became a limited company with Jacques Hardy as managing director. New markets were beginning to open up in North America, South America and Africa. The cockerel was growing up.
The birth of Perfection
In 1981 two major American importers prevailed upon Jacques Hardy to create a truly exceptional Cognac for the luxury market: Perfection was born. Prestigious glassmakers Cristallerie Daum were asked to craft a unique, bespoke carafe. Artist Jacques Carzou was commissioned to produce an original lithograph which would accompany this ground-breaking Cognac.Jacques Hardy continued to lead the company until his retirement in 1999, when A. Hardy et Cie was renamed Hardy Cognac.
A Grande Champagne Cognac bottled by Jacques Hardy in 1983 was finally released, housed in a precious wooden case and captured in a special Caryota carafe, designed by Marie-Claude Lalique. Cuvée Bénédicte was released in a limited edition of 333 numbered bottles, each bearing the signature of Bénédicte Hardy, direct descendant of Antoine Hardy.
The fifth generation
Bénédicte Hardy represents the fifth generation of Hardy Cognac makers. As Maison Hardy’s international ambassador, she has worked to build the company’s reputation in the USA.