Firmin Merlet, heir to a family of wine growers, established a small cognac distillery close to Saint Sauvant in the Saintonge area in 1850. So the Merlets became cognac distillers, supplying major houses such as Hennessy.
Gilles Merlet took over the distillery in the mid 1970s when the family business and indeed cognac in general was facing a tough economic situation. He was forced to uproot some of the family’s vines and decided to replace them with blackcurrent bushes. He started making crème de cassis liqueur and it proved so successful that he started producing other liqueurs. Today Merlet is perhaps better known for its liqueurs than its cognac and Pineau de Charente.
Gilles continues to head up the still family family-run business, joined by his sons Pierre and Luc in 2005. Pierre concentrates on the production side whilst his bother focuses on marketing. Merlet have been at the forefront of the development of new liqueurs, an example being Hpnotiq.