Bénédicte Hardy, who is on this wall ?

The central portrait is the founder of Maison Hardy, Antoine Hardy. So, he is my great-great-grandfather. Just below is Valère Hardy, his son.

On the left is a portrait of my grandfather Armand Hardy, who was head of the Maison until 1957, the year of his death. And on the right is Jacques Hardy, my father, who was CEO of the Maison until 1999.



Which family member has inspired you the most?

My father is the one who inspired me the most the join to Liquor industry. I was born and raised in a family where women were strong, and respected but none had really embraced the liquor Industry as I did. I had chosen Political Sciences and Law as my majors when in College and never thought that would end up in the family business.

My father who was the President of our company at the time and the Export manager as he spoke multiple languages had never tried to influence me in anyway.. but when I ended up not willing to start a law practice, and telling him that I wanted to switch to the wine industry, he mentioned that he would certainly enjoy working with me at his side .. My answer was Yes but at one condition: that I could take care of the United States .. a decision that I never regretted.

He specifically said that he would teach me about cognac, how to taste it, enjoy it but and that the road would be difficult .. I clearly remember that he said that being a woman and his daughter I would work harder, longer hours and would not be permitted any mistakes. I am sure that he would have never said that if I had being a son instead of a daughter ..

And he finally said: we need more women in our industry and he would be proud to add Hardy and Filles( daughters) considering that  my sister was working in our company at the time instead of Hardy et Fils ( sons)  as many companies did in the past.



Could you describe your childhood for us?

I had a happy and privileged childhood in the sense that my parents were attentive to their two daughters (my sister Sophie being my younger sister). They helped us believe in ourselves and build ourselves up in a world where women did not have the place they do today.

Clients were welcomed into our family, and it was not uncommon to start a conversation in English, continue it in Spanish, or finish it in German, depending on who was at our table. This gave us a strong appreciation for languages and sharing from a very young age. Early on, I saw that my parents had built an incredible network of enthusiasts/friends from all nationalities who came to buy Hardy cognac as much for the quality of the spirits as for the pleasure of being welcomed into our home. This convivial and generous aspect has always inspired me since my youngest age.

My mother was a fantastic cook who loved hosting and sharing her recipes with the clients of Maison Hardy. With my sister, we met cognac enthusiasts from all walks of life very early on and took the best from this cosmopolitan environment.

My father was a hardworking man, sharp and full of humor, who instilled in us the values of hard work, effort, and respect for others.

We were also into sports, particularly horseback riding, and I will never thank my parents enough for their patience and for spending entire weekends with their daughters at competition grounds.

Appreciating and discovering wines and spirits was also part of our education, but that takes us beyond childhood…



When did you first taste Hardy Cognac? Which one was it and what did you think of it?

My first experience with “cognac” was with my parents during a dinner with the importer Hardy in Kenya, with whom my father had formed a strong friendship. I had just turned 16 and this man was a big fan of our Noces d’Or cognac. He was of Indian origin and insisted on letting me taste a drop of this cognac that he particularly enjoyed.

It was both transgressive (who drinks cognac at such a young age?), disorienting as I was just starting to drink a little wine at the table, and the beginning of a learning experience. But this drop of gold, as he called it, remained etched in my memory as a rite of passage, an experience I have never forgotten. Strong indeed, but aromatic are the adjectives that remain in my memory.



What was your learning experience?

At the end of my law studies, I thought about returning to the world of wine because it was truly my upbringing and passion. My taste for cognac only really came with time and thanks to my father and my uncle, Francis Hardy, who was our cellar master before turning to politics and becoming the Mayor of Cognac.

It was a gradual and regular process (each time I returned from Bordeaux when I was a student) since these two mentors convinced me to drink very little of our brandies but to regularly taste them in order to understand their characteristics and subtleties. I must admit that I am still learning and that we continue to discover over the years how rich, complex and charming cognac is.


Why did you continue the family legacy?

Continuing the family legacy wasn’t an obvious choice at the start of my student life since I had chosen a completely different path. When I joined Maison Hardy at my father’s request, he didn’t hide from me that it would be difficult, demanding, but absolutely fascinating. I had no idea that I would still be at the Maison almost 38 years after accepting the position of North American Export Manager in 1986. The legend builds over time, but I swear to you that at the beginning, I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue after some unsuccessful attempts in the market (United States) that I had chosen.

Continuing to write the Hardy story was more obvious to our clients than to me… I had a terrible fear of disappointing them. But it was these same clients who gave me the breath and energy to continue the adventure. It was for them that I wanted to work on an angle that was little exploited in the 1980s. Apart from Rémy Martin with Louis XIII, who, for a small house of our size, would have bet on luxury and ultra-premium like my father did in 1981 with the launch of his great-grandfather’s cognac, Perfection?



What is your philosophy regarding Hardy cognac?

My philosophy: to be unique and different! Quality and exception have been my guides since the first day and still are today. Daring to do what no one has done before us and not copying others summarize my philosophy for the brand quite well. Collaborating with prestigious French glass or crystal houses such as Daum or more recently Lalique with Les Quatre Saisons was an unparalleled experience and a shared joy with our teams. If God grants me life, I have many ideas that should continue to surprise and please the loyal friends of Maison Hardy. Hopefully!


Benedicte Hardy’s comments were gathered by Nathalie Baylaucq.


Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.


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