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Otard, also known as Chateau de Cognac, is a French cognac house founded in 1795 by Jean-Baptiste Antoine Otard. The company has remained in the hands of the same family since its establishment. The firm is based in the Château des Valois (Château de Cognac), Cognac, Charente, its home since 1796.
The Otard family traces its origins back to the middle of the 9th century to a Norwegian warrior named Ottar. From the 11th to 17th century, the descendants of Ottar lived in Dun-Ottar castle in Scotland. Great supporters of the Stuart cause, they followed King James II of England when the later moved to France in exile after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
James O'Tard fought alongside Louis XIV of France and was created a Baron in 1701. It was his great-grandson, Jean-Baptiste Antoine Otard born near to the town of Cognac, who created the cognac trading house bearing his name in 1795. The family owned vineyards around the town of Cognac and were already distilling and ageing 'eaux-de-vie'. The following year he bought the Château de Cognac, built in the tenth century to protect the villagers from Norman invaders, as a base for his business. The cellars of the château, which can be visited, are still used for storing and ageing the casks of cognac.
The cellars of Château de Cognac have 3-metre thick walls and an extremely high level of humidity resulting from the proximity of the Charente river. This environment plays a determinant role in the maturity of the different brandies offered by the company.[2